The old lesson of not peaking too soon rang true for the young Hamilton Boys’ High School First XI cricket team at the annual Super 8 tournament in Tauranga last week.
Despite losing two thirds of last year’s team, Hamilton eased to a seventh consecutive Super 8 championship and an 11th overall since the inception of the event in 1998.
This outcome was in stark contrast to the National Championships in December.
Hamilton started the Nationals imperiously, crushing defending champions Christchurch Boys’ High School and King’s High School to top the standings after two days.
Inexplicably Hamilton fizzled out in their remaining three fixtures to finish in a disappointing fourth place.
Hamilton began Super 8 by predictably beating the Tauranga Boys’ College Second XI (the solitary second XI at the tourney), but Hamilton captain Kristian Clarke was unsatisfied with his team's display.
“The first day was a bit of wake-up call. We expected to get it over and done with quickly, but we struggled and got a tune up from the coaches,” Clarke complained.
Hamilton was far better on day two when they achieved their biggest victory of the tournament over Hastings Boys’ High School.
“Hastings was really good. We wanted to improve in a couple of areas and we did. To bowl Hastings out for just over a hundred was really satisfying,” Clarke acclaimed.
All-rounder Clarke is in his fourth season in the First XI. How did Clarke guard against a late week slump?
“We had a much older team last year so it was really disappointing to fall away at Nationals. I think we lost focus of what we needed to do and got too far ahead of ourselves. The loss to Wellington College on day three was poor.”
“I try to be a balanced captain. I like the boys to think for themselves, but I’ll offer advice when I think it’s needed. I like to be aggressive, but I will be cautious when I need to be,” Clarke responded.
Hamilton were on the offensive against New Plymouth achieving a crushing eight wicket win, but in the final a measure of restraint was required.
Tauranga Boys' First XI batted first and made a good start, losing their first wicket with 46 on the board.
Opener Taylor Bettleheim carried on the momentum and top scored with 59. When Bettleheim was dismissed in the 39th over, Tauranga Boys' were 140/6. Hamilton’s bowlers tightened the screws and bowled their opponents out for 157. Shaanveer Bhatia grabbed four wickets with Ethan O’Donoghue and Banroj Sidhu taking two apiece.
“The final was swapped from Ferguson field to Tauranga number one which wasn’t ideal,” Clarke observed.
“We got an old, slow pitch which was hard work to score on. I was surprised at how Tauranga played. They were poised to get a good score, but threw wickets away,”
Hamilton wobbled in pursuit of the modest target, two down with just three runs on the board. However experienced opener Jacob Parker and Clarke combined to put on a 132 run partnership to anchor their sides six wicket victory. Clarke finished with 86, his highest score for the First XI.
“I guess I started in the First XI as a batter and have become more of a bowler. It was nice to contribute a big score,” he said.
Clarke made 177 runs in four innings and took six wickets at 12 during the Super 8. At Nationals Clark claimed 10 victims to finish among the top five wicket takers. His best spell was 4/28 against Christchurch.
Parker made three half-centuries in the Super 8 and 225 runs at 45 at Nationals.
Hamilton will attempt to qualify for the 2019 Nationals at the end of Term One. Is the Super 8 sufficient preparation? Clarke has never lost the Shield.
“I think it’s much the same. Every team goes through cycles so each one is different. We are hopeful of making Nationals, but were not getting too far ahead of ourselves,” Clarke concluded.
Hamilton are managed by former New Zealand representative Chris Kuggeleijn and Tim Aughton.
Hamilton Boys’ High School Results
Final: Tauranga Boys' College 157 (Taylor Bettelheim 59, Tim Pringle 22; Shaanveer Bhatia 4/23, Banrog Sidhu 2/14, Ethan O'Donoghue 2/39) lost to Hamilton BHS 159/3. (Kristian Clarke 86, Jacob Parker 57)
Pool Play: New Plymouth BHS 105 (Sebastion Lauderdale-Smithe 31, Kristian Clarke 3/31) lost to Hamilton BHS 106/8 (Jacob Parker 30, Jack Parker 3/31)
Pool Play: Hamilton BHS 222/6 (Jacob Parker 61, Shaanveer Singh 47, Joshua Dinan 35) defeated Hastings BHS 112 (Jacob Murdoch 57, Ethan O'Donaghue 4/24)
Pool Play: Tauranga Boys' College 2nd XI 164 (Ben Vyver 49, Shaanveer Bhatia 4/21) lost to Hamilton BHS 168/4 (Kristian Clarke 56, Joshua Dinan 36no, Shaanveer Singh 33no, Tomasso Pini 2/17).
Third Place: Palmerston North BHS 26 (ZB Betteridge 3-4, JG Gard 2/1, CL Logan 2/7, BF Frewin 2/13) lost to New Plymouth BHS 29/2
Fifth Place: Napier BHS 209/6 (L Hall 53, S Pawson 52, LT Trower 49; JR Greville 3/30) defeated Hastings BHS 97 (J Murdoch 31; L McCarthy 3/21, L Hall 3/23)
Seventh Place: Gisborne BHS 87 lost to Tauranga Boys' College 2nd XI 88/2 (H Dickson 37no, B Vyver 31 no)
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