Mark Beer primed to embark on UK adventure
Cricketer Mark Beer will bring the curtain down on a decade playing for Southland and a Hawke Cup victory this weekend would be the perfect way to finish.
Beer will line up for Southland in their three-day Hawke Cup challenge against holders Manawatu, in Palmerston North, starting tomorrow.
Win, lose or draw it will be the 27-year-old's finale playing for Southland as he heads overseas at the start of April and at this stage has no plans to return.
The all-rounder, who played his first game for Southland as a 17-year-old in 2004, had not done a lot of reflecting just yet on his time playing for Southland.
"I guess when the game finishes I'll have a look back on things, but I honestly haven't given it much thought," he said yesterday.
"I don't want to rule out [returning] but it's highly likely it will be my last game. You don't want to say never though, I might be back one day."
What he did recall fondly was the friendships he had built up over his years of playing in Southland.
"You make all your good mates playing sport, I've definitely made most of [mine] playing cricket."
This weekend's showdown with Manawatu will be Beer's third crack at challenging for the Hawke Cup and he sees no reason why it can't be third time lucky.
"I think we've got as good a chance as ever. I guess not playing Hamilton is a little bit of a mental freshener for us because they've pumped us both times we've played them. So to be playing someone else, you're starting mental fresh."
The Metropolitan Tigers player will head to England at the end of the club season where he will join up with the Oxford Cricket Club as an overseas player.
Ironically another former Metropolitan, Southland and Southland Boys' High School cricketer, Brad Sutherland, is already part of the Oxford setup.
"It's just an absolute fluke we're at the same place because it was obviously organised with a third party agent - it's a small world really."
After a decade playing in Southland Beer is looking forward to lining up with and against a new group of people.
Despite heading straight from one season to another in the UK, without a break, he is excited.
"You're starting from scratch. When you play the same people for so long they know a bit about you, but when you play someone that knows nothing about you you've sort of got to prove yourself again, which is a new challenge. It's exciting."
Beer has a reputation of winding up opposition and enjoying the verbal banter, which threw him a bit when he was doing some research on his new Oxford team.
"They've actually won the Conduct Cup [for good behaviour] for like the last five years in a row, so I might have to chill out a wee bit," he joked.
As well as stepping away from Southland cricket Beer will also depart his role at Rugby Southland as their strength and conditioning coach.
He said he was thankful for the opportunity he had had at the organisation.
"One of the great things about Southland is it is a small place and if I was from anywhere else I wouldn't have got this job and I wouldn't be in the position with five or six years experience in a field that's pretty hard to get into," Beer said.