Smith stars in Boys' High victory
A timely shot of aggression has helped the Southland Boys' High School first XI to its first Southland club cricket one-day title.
The students won a rain-affected match at Queens Park by 25 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis system, thanks in part to player-coach Craig Smith's efforts with both bat and ball.
A recent interschool match against a strong King's High School had shown the Boys' High players just how hard cricket can be played, and they had talked about producing a similar effort in the club final against Metro.
The students had appeared in two previous club one-day finals, but never tasted victory.
"The boys got stuck in, in terms of the team backing each other up and making things happen, rather than sitting back and waiting for it to happen," Smith said.
Boys' High made 187 in an innings which was shortened to 47 overs because of rain.
Smith made 75 from 93 balls including an 80-run stand with fellow player-coach Chris Neylon, while Jerome Diack chipped in with 23 off 33 balls.
Metro were in trouble throughout their run chase and found themselves 92-6 when they were called off the ground because of heavy rain.
While the two teams came close to getting back on as darkness approached, the game was eventually called with Metro 25 runs behind the asking rate.
Metro vice-captain Mark Beer, who leaves today to play cricket in England, said he'd never encountered such a willing Boys' High team in his decade-long time in Southland cricket.
He also hailed the performance of Smith, his Hawke Cup team-mate and former Otago representative.
"He's just a very good cricket player," Beer, who took three wickets and was left 41 not out in Metro's reply, said.
Smith said it was a great result for the school after the team's place in the senior competition was being questioned last summer due to a run of poor results.
"With school cricket it does go in roundabouts. We knew this year we'd have a competitive team. When we heard there was talk of us dropping down we wanted to give it a good crack this year and it's paid off. The boys have worked hard all year and put in the effort," he said.
"We were definitely underdogs going into the final. Metro have been dominating all season. We knew deep down that we could do it if we played well and the boys certainly did that."
Boys' High would start rebuilding next summer, Smith said.
"We've got five year 13 boys, which is a reasonable chunk, so they'll leave at the end of the year and we'll need a few to step up.
"It bodes well for the clubs because obviously the boys are going to filter through next year and in the years to come. Hopefully they can push on for higher honours. There are a couple on the radar of Otago under-19, and the Southland Hawke Cup team as well."
- The Southland Times