Quiet performer emerges from the shadows

Last updated 05:00 17/11/2012

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If he follows the same path as his idol, it'll be another four years before Carl Cachopa plays test cricket.

Dating back to March this year, the 26-year-old Central Districts batsman has reeled off five centuries in his last six first-class matches. The third of those games hardly counts; rain meant Cachopa didn't actually get a bat.

Still, it's a magnificent run of scores and has turned the Bloemfontein-born right-hander into something of an overnight sensation when, in reality, he's anything but.

Cachopa made his first-class debut, for Auckland against Wellington, way back in 2005. He even enjoyed the distinction of catching West Indies great Brian Lara in a test match the following year, as New Zealand's substitute fieldsman.

Only, until this March, that catch at square leg off Shane Bond's bowling was about the most noteworthy aspect of Cachopa's career.

But his is not a tale of early promise unfulfilled. It's more the story of a methodical man who set himself the task of building a batting technique he was happy with and has now finally done so.

You don't have to be too prolific on the New Zealand domestic circuit to become talked about as a potential Black Cap. But in the same way that Cachopa has been in no hurry to hone his game, he's not breaking his neck to play international cricket either.

"People just have to be patient, especially with batting," Cachopa said ahead of CD's Plunket Shield clash with Northern Districts which starts in Gisborne today.

"Everyone develops at their own pace and I knew I had to be patient and work hard.

"Some people don't have that patience and they want results now, but you've just got to be patient with yourself.

"That's why I take a lot from a guy like Mike Hussey [who was 30 when he made his test debut for Australia]. He broke in later, but he knew his game so well and he's gone on and had a very successful career to this day."

A three-season stint in South Australia is evidence of Cachopa's desire to learn. He could've hung around Auckland, where he'd arrived from South Africa aged 15, and drifted in and out of the Aces squad.

Instead, he decided a summer in Adelaide would help broaden his skills. Except after the first season he wasn't satisfied, nor the second, and it was only after the third that Cachopa felt he had achieved what he went for.

The challenge then was to find a team back here that might have him. He sent a CV to then-Black Caps coach John Wright, who circulated it around the six Major Associations. Only CD were interested, but not enough to offer Cachopa a contract. So he joined Hastings' Cornwall club and set to scoring as many runs as possible.

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"I knew I had to start at the bottom and I wasn't expecting any favours. I'd been away for three seasons and nobody really knew me," he said.

They do now, along with younger brothers Brad and Craig.

Brad plays for Canterbury, having also played with Auckland, while Craig's with Auckland after spending last summer in Wellington.

You can hardly scrutinise a domestic scorecard these days without seeing a Cachopa on it.

"I know, I get a lot of stick from my team-mates," the eldest Cachopa said.

CD come into this match second on the ladder while ND is last.

Stags skipper Kieran Noema-Barnett is in slight doubt of not playing, owing to a groin strain.

Former captain Jamie How will lead the side if Noema-Barnett is ruled out.

- The Dominion Post

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