Things are heating up in the Taranaki premier two-day cricket competition as top teams try to secure semifinal spots.
Leading the way and unbeaten with four wins after four of the seven qualifying rounds in the Revital Fertilisers competition are New Plymouth Boys' High School and reigning one-day champions New Plymouth Old Boys. Both are on 38 points
Close behind are New Plymouth Marist United (35), Hawera United (31), Stratford (26), Woodleigh 25. Bringing up the rear, but still in contention for a playoff spot, are Francis Douglas Memorial College and Inglewood, both on 24 points.
Boys' High have been the surprise package of the season so far. Not only are they joint leaders in the two-day competition, but this week the team won a semifinal spot in the Twenty20 competition.
The Boys' High lineup has been gutted since Christmas with six senior players, including Taranaki reps Rupert Young and Billy Sanger, having left school at the end of last year.
"That's our top four batsmen and two opening bowlers," Boys' High player-coach Dion Ebrahim said.
It remains to be seen if the new- look squad can continue to be as competitive. Ebrahim believes the foundation has been laid that will ensure the schoolboy rookies are well prepared to make the step up.
"Over the last four or five months we have been rotating a handful of younger players to give them a taste of premier cricket and 1st XI cricket," the former Zimbabwe international said.
"We're now starting to the see the benefit of that. We've got three or four guys ready to step in and fill the leavers' boots. We've got the people to fill those spots, but we're still waiting for the boot to fit, I suppose."
On his side's form in the two-day competition so far, Ebrahim described it as patchy, leaving room for improvement.
"In my opinion we haven't yet strung together a complete performance. I know what they are capable of."
On their playoff chances, Ebrahim said to seal a top four spot his side needed at least one further outright victory.
"I'm hoping we peak at the right time."
Today on day one of round five, Boys' High are away to Inglewood.
Inglewood will be smarting and seeking revenge at Karo Park after missing out on a semifinal spot to the school in the premier Twenty20 competition last Tuesday.
Old Boys host Francis Douglas at Western Park and the home side will fancy their chances of picking up maximum points. In the other matches, Stratford are at home to Marist United, and Woodleigh take on Hawera at Sutherland Park in New Plymouth.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you think New Plymouth's recycling collection system is up to scratch?Related story: Council wheels out new approach to recycling
Get Taranaki's frequent news and sport updates