Sports stars shine early for cricket devotee

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 19/12/2012

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In the 1987 South Island primary schools cricket tournament, future All Black Jeff Wilson took a record 37 wickets from five matches, and Christchurch's Derek Cockburn saw it happen.

Two years later, pint-sized future Black Cap Craig Cumming scored three centuries in five matches for South Canterbury, and Cockburn saw all of that too.

There's not much at the tournament that Cockburn hasn't seen. The 76-year-old saw Justin Boyle take all 10 wickets in an innings and Sir Richard Hadlee "only get three bags of five in four games" in 1965.

There have been 49 boys' tournaments run by the Christchurch Junior Cricket Association and Cockburn has seen them all.

The association life member and patron will be at the organisation's inaugural girls' tournament, which begins today, ironically at Christchurch Boys' High School. He's already excited about the next 14-team boys' event, on January 7-11, Cockburn's 50th tournament.

"I just really enjoy the cricket," he said. "Some of the best cricketers to play for New Zealand have come through our tournament.

"The likes of Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, they obviously stand out, [All White captain] Ryan Nelsen was another one, he was brilliant, but there are so many."

Cockburn said more than 40 players that had come through the South Island tournament had gone on to represent the Black Caps "and probably about 100 others in other sports".

He's just as excited about the first girls' event, which features six teams.

"It's really neat that that tournament is going ahead this year," Cockburn said.

"We've been trying to make it happen for a long time now."

The association encouraging past players to attend next month's tournament and is hosting an informal dinner on January 6.

For more information, see cjca.org.nz.

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