Grattan's passion for province
Every time Mike Grattan steps out for the Southland cricket team the passion bubbles away.
The 30-year-old from Gore never takes the opportunity to wear the Southland cap for granted given at one stage he never imagined he would ever get the chance to play for his province.
At 29 years of age, Grattan last season made his Hawke Cup debut and he has now developed into a regular feature in the setup.
It's been an impressive rise from playing in the Combined Country competition a few seasons back to now being the frontline spinner in the Hawke Cup squad.
''For me, every time I put the shirt and cap on it means a lot to me, I think it really means a lot to the country boys to play for Southland, I'm not saying the town boys don't appreciate it but it really does mean a lot for us. To have the results I did last season was a bit of a dream come true.''
Grattan said he now felt comfortable in the Southland team and felt he belonged there.
''When I first made my debut, I'm not going to lie, it was tough, it was awkward but now you know you're just one big unit and everyone gets along and it's a great team culture.''
Grattan says he has a lot to thank coach Steve Jackson for in showing confidence in him and also helping him develop as a spin-bowler.
His love for cricket started as a five-year-old in Counties where he played age-group cricket and at 11 he made the move to Gore.
He was whisked into the Gore High School first 11 as a third-former where he impressed and after his time at Gore High he joined the Albion club.
Albion however were playing in the second tier Combined Country competition and it was hard to push for higher honours not playing in the senior grade.
In 2009 the Albion club took a punt to move up to the senior grade and it has paid off with Grattan's progression in the Hawke Cup ranks to one of the shining lights.
Grattan said there was a good feeling with what the Gore-based club had achieved and feels there is still plenty more room for improvement.
''It's been very good but we've still got a long way to go yet,'' Grattan said.
''We've now got a second team and we've got some really good young talent coming through so we just want to hold on to these young guys. It means the guys from the country don't have to travel into town to play senior cricket if they want to.''
Grattan's next big assignment will be the two-day Hawke Cup game against South Canterbury starting in Invercargill today.
A win would put Southland in the box seat for a Hawke Cup challenge and for Grattan that prospect is a mouthwatering one.
''I said to Jacko the other day that for a lot of us it would probably be the closest thing to first-class cricket that we are going to get if we get to challenge for the Hawke Cup.''
Jason Domigan c, Mark Beer, Bibwas Bibhas, Shaun Fitzgibbon Jonathan Hodson, Hamish O'Brien, Mike Grattan, Craig Smith, Sam Ward, Rheubyn Prattley, Jared McKenzie, Simon Wadworth.
Jimmy Laming (c), Richie Preston, Gerrit Roux, Jack Harper, Glen Drake, James Ellwood, Sam Carlaw, Adam Beck (wk), Nathan McNicol, Craig Hinton, Ben Watson.
*Today and tomorrow at Queens Park in Invercargill.
The Southland Times