It certainly was a busy time with us hosting-the two Volts games-three Sparks games-Otago U17 v Pelichet Bay Invitational X1-Central Otago Wanderers v Ken McKnight X1 (Australia)-Otago Country SIBSBT Team v Invitation Team with all but the U17 game being played on Molyneux Park No1. Thanks so much to Andrew Douglas the groundsman for his outstanding work and co-operation in allowing the boys and the Wanderers the opportunity to play on the ‘hallowed turf’. Andrew also won praise for the standard of the pitches he produced for all the games.
The Primary Boys and Primary Girls have recently finished their tournaments in Dunedin and Christchurch respectively. The boys had a tough draw and acquitted themselves very well. The girls narrowly lost their 3 v 4 play-off game against the Canterbury Black side. Congratulations to Harriet Cuttance, Harriet Neilson and Lilly Paterson who were all named in the Tournament Team.
Well done to both groups of kids for the skills and commitment they showed. We look forward to following your progress in the future.
It was with sadness yesterday that I learnt of the passing of Noel Hamilton. Noel was a tireless worker for cricket in the Otago Country area while based in Clyde. He had a special interest in youth cricket and was an umpire who stood in many Hawke Cup and Crosby Morris fixtures during the 70’s and 80’s. After finishing his umpiring career Noel continued to have involvement through being secretary of the OCCUSA during the 1990’s. Noel was also a regular at Molyneux Park helping out for many of the big games and often was a sightscreen attendant. The thoughts of the OCCA go out to Marie and the extended Hamilton family. RIP Noel.
Just on Christmas we received funding from the Bendigo Valley Sports and Charity Foundation funding agency. This grant was to help with Rep Team’s accommodation and is greatly appreciated. Thanks go out to them for this generous grant.
While our farming communities have welcomed the rain over the last few weeks it has had some effect on our cricket with the scheduled Crosby Morris game between Lakes and Maniototo being washed out again! Both teams agreed that there would be a coin toss to decide the next host and Sam Pringle called heads. Tails it was so Lakes will host South Otago as listed below. This will be followed by the Vincent challenge a fortnight later.
February 14th. Lakes v South Otago @ Queenstown Event Centre.
February 28th. Holders v Vincent
Early December saw our annual clash for the Stewart McKnight Trophy at the Oturehua Domain. It was noted that some members of the Dunedin side were astounded that such a ground existed in a little country village. Below is a brief history of how the artificial pitch at Oturehua was transformed into the excellent grass surface it is today. Al McKnight wrote this piece after many a discussion with Stewart himself. Both men still work on preparing the ground although the Oturehua Club is still in recess.
A Brief History Of The Grass Wicket at Oturehua.
Stewart McKnight returned from an overseas tour with a New Zealand Districts team in 1964 having played in England, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Canada. Having played on many different types of pitches, he felt the grass wicket produced the best and most enjoyable cricket. He had an idea that a grass wicket in Oturehua would benefit many cricketers in Central Otago. He approached the club members for support and got underway.
Not all members were completely in favour. In particular, Bill Becker, who was a huge man and a fine sportsman and cricketer. Apparently he was not at all amused to find Stewart and Owen Becker filling in a very deep trench at “his” end of the existing concrete pitch. This trench having been made by his very long strides bowling each Saturday. It was probably not very easy for anybody else to bowl at that end. He was further upset when after the grass wicket was established and put to use they dared to uplift his beloved concrete pitch. To his credit, Bill did come to realise the benefits of the grass wicket and get in behind the idea. Stewart states that Bill was a real mentor for him as a young rugby player and cricketer and who set him on his own path as an administrator in many sports.
The old concrete pitch was in fact on the rugby field. At the end of the season it was covered up with turf or sod rolled in strips. At the beginning of the season it would be scraped off and taken away again. With a grass wicket block established, it wasn’t long before there was recognition that perhaps Maniototo A fixtures should be held there. Again, this would benefit those representing Central Otago at Hawke Cup level. At a sub association meeting this was proposed. One Patearoa cricketer delivered an expletiative-ridden sentence about the idea of playing Maniototo matches at Oturehua! He was asked to withdraw the comment, as it was inappropriate! The proposal stood and the ground became a firm base for representative cricket.
Early pitches were prepared by a puddling method with water applied by hoses and rolling at the same time until a smooth muddy surface was achieved and then baked hard in the sun. Later it was realised that it was better to keep grass growing on the block. This meant rolling the wicket in a drier state and using the roller to bring moisture up from underneath. This is the method used today.
The original soil used came from the Becks area, however grass didn’t grow well on it. Kakanui Tar from North Otago has been used ever since. It produces a hard non-crumbly surface for play. The same soil is used throughout New Zealand, even Eden Park in Auckland. Stewart has provided advice to ground staff all over the South Island on pitch development and preparation.
The Oturehua Club went into recess in 2001-02. But such was the reputation of the pitch we were asked to somehow keep it going. Stewart, Barry Becker and Al McKnight in particular have managed to keep the ground in use. Local primary school children play their home games there and the new Maniototo men’s club also. They are the only club players left now and they compete in the Vincent /Lakes competition. This is sad when in the late 1990’s we had a six-team competition in the Maniototo.
We annually host a match between Otago Country and a Dunedin selection. At stake is the Stewart McKnight trophy. This is a fitting tribute to Stewart’s legacy in Otago cricket as a player, and administrator, to the highest levels in New Zealand cricket. Malcolm Jones, himself a long serving administrator and scorer drove this initiative to play this game annually. The Dunedin players in particular are often staggered to find a pitch of such quality before Christmas and in a little village called Oturehua. They also appreciate the hospitality that a rural village supplies as well. Our ladies lunches are legendary! Many fine cricketers have played here over the years.
Thanks to an idea from Stewart all those years ago, along with some helpers with a passion for cricket and some attention to detail, a beautiful cricket ground remains just that.
Our Hawke Cup Elimination programme has also been affected by the wet start to 2016 with the game against South Canterbury rained off after a handful of overs. The selectors have chosen a reasonably ‘fresh looking’ side to play against Mid Canterbury this weekend in Alexandra. This game is a ‘dead rubber’ as North Otago has qualified to be the Zone 4 challenger for the Hawke Cup. The Maniototo trio of Sam Pringle, Willie Miller and Reuben Pyle join Blacks Hill’s Drew van Boxtel as debutants. Reuben is following father John and brother Jimmy as an Otago Country Hawke Cup player. Congratulations to them and best of luck to the team. The team for the game is;
Drew van Boxtel
A reminder that the Zone 4 Hawke Cup Elimination series this season is being ‘Live Scored’ and a link to the games is available on our website. If you can’t make it to the games keep up to date with how the lads are going on your computer/laptop/tablet/phone just as you do with the BLACKCAPS/Volts etc. If you require any help to get onto this link contact me. Our thanks to Peter Mayell at NZC for enabling us to Live Score this series.
Our two Cricket Development Officers, Willie Miller and Emma Campbell are both busy again in their roles. School visits are about to start for Term One. Just a reminder that Willie can be contacted on 0212790979 or email Willie @ otagocricket.co.nz and Emma can be reached on 0211242266 or email email@example.com If you have any questions please contact these two or myself.
Keep an eye on the Otago Country Cricket Association Facebook page for news updates. You will notice the latest FB posts go on the ‘home page’ of the website as well.
No sporting organisation can run without the help of sponsors and funding partners and the Otago Country Cricket Association would like to thank the following for their brilliant help for the 2015-16 season.
The Bendigo Valley Sports and Charity
The Lion Foundation
NZ Community Trust
Mark Wilson, Marketing and Fitness Consultant
Please support these people and organisations where possible as they have supported us.
I would also like to thank Alli Jones and her team at Promo-X in Dunedin for the outstanding job they have done with our rep teams uniforms this season. Nothing is a problem to these people (even two days before Christmas!!!). Check out their website if you need any team clothing and monogramming done.