Caleb Montague can’t stop scoring runs.
The St Patrick’s College Silverstream opener smashed a century in the College Sport Wellington Twenty20 competition against Onslow College this week after making 145 not out against Scots College on Saturday.
Montague is the leading run-maker in the Premier Youth Grade having amassed 492 runs at an average of 98.40.
Montague attributes much of his success to his parents and long-time coach Neeraj Chawla.
“Neeraj has been coaching me for three years. He has helped me develop my game by spending so much time with me. My parents got me in to cricket in the first place and have always been supportive,” Montague acclaims.
Montague started playing cricket when he was five and briefly dabbled in football, rugby and basketball. He has decided to make cricket his solitary focus after a ground breaking National Under-17 tournament for Wellington.
Montague scored 359 runs at 59.50, including his highest score of 166 against Northern Districts.
“The Under-17’s was a great experience, playing at good grounds against strong opposition,” he says.
“The 17’s taught me a lot about how to approach my game and prepare better.”
Silverstream are presently second in the Premier Youth Grade having lost to National Champions Wellington College in their top of the table clash this season by three runs.
Silverstream missed the Nationals last year at the expense of Wellington College. What do Silverstream have to do to tame the Wellington beast?
“We have to do the little things better such as reducing our extras, improving our catching and fielding and not playing silly shots,” Montague observed.
“Wellington are a strong all around team, but there isn’t a lot between us.”
Montague has shown an aptitude to score rapidly, but has also exhibited patience in 2019. In the two day traditional against St Pats Town he scored a pair of centuries. Montague models his game on Black Cap Martin Guptill.
“Martin has been my favourite player since his international debut. I like the way he bats. He’s aggressive and strikes the ball hard and straight.”
Montague is a handy bowler as well and has best figures of 7-57.
“I consider myself a batting all-rounder. I struggle for consistency with the ball, but if I fail with the bat its nice to know I can contribute with the ball.”
Montague will be looking to contribute both when Silverstream tackles Wellington College in the Premier Youth Final on April 1 at the Basin Reserve. The winner will head to the Nationals in December.
Premier Youth Grade
Onslow College – 11
St Pats Wellington – 119
Hutt Valley High School – 46
Wellington College 2nd XI – 80
Wellington College First XI – 49
Hutt International Boys’ School – 42
Scots College – 145*
Palmerston North Boys’ High School – 73
St Bede’s College – 8, 30
St Pats Wellington – 102, 120*
Otago – 28
Northern Districts – 166
Auckland – 21
Central Districts -24
Northern Districts – 44
Ruben Love has created a unique piece of history.
The Year 13 student at Palmerston North Boys’ High School has become the first player selected in both the New Zealand Under-18 Māori rugby and cricket teams.
The Under-18 cricket side has only just been convened and Love admits he had no idea the side even existed.
“I got a message from Manawatu cricket saying I’d been selected. I’ve never met the coach [long-serving Cricket Wellington coach Mark Borthwick] and I’m not sure who's idea it is, but I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
Love is a wicketkeeper-batsman in his third year in the Palmerston North BHS First XI. His highest score is 106 against Napier Boys’ High School, while he made 100 last month in the Manawatu men’s Premier competition.
Love is one of only four Year 13’s in the First XI. He concedes the team underachieved at the Super 8 tournament in January, embarrassingly bowled out for 26 against New Plymouth Boys’ High School, but things are starting to come right.
“We went through a rough patch, but we kept the Challenge Shield by drawing against Napier Boys’ and the younger boys are improving each week,” Love observed.
The National Māori team was selected by long-term Northern Districts’ administrator Pat Malcon and New Zealand Cricket (NZC) Talent Identification Manager Paul Wiseman. It will be coached by Mark Borthwick.
NZC Network and Participation Advisor Andrew Tara said the introduction of the Māori Schools side was part of his organisation’s push to better connect with Māori. There were 46
nominations for selection and Love’s maturity and consistency has earned him a place for the one-off fixture against a Governor General’s XI on March 7 at Karori Park in Wellington.
“I think we’ve got a pretty exciting team. I’m know Ollie White from Auckland Grammar pretty well. He’s a good player,” Love acclaimed.
The team will stay at the Tapu Te Ranga Marae in Island Bay and at Mana College, the former site a residence of the successful Under-18 Maori rugby team which Love was part of last year.
“The Māori Rugby team was special. We spent two weeks together and by the end of the campaign we were like family. I hope the cricket team is the same in teaching us our Māori history and bringing the boys together,” Love enthused.
Love scored a dramatic intercept try in the Māori team's shock 21-20 win over the New Zealand Barbarians (see footage of this try below), but missed the second match against Fiji with a hematoma in the quad.
Love is a fullback and wing in the winter and has been training with the Boys’ High First XV in addition to cricket. Love warns the First XV is building a “good vibe” a dozen players back from 2018.
Love isn’t a fluent Te Reo speaker but insists Māori culture is a big part of his life and his understanding of his ethnicity has grown hugely in the past 12 months.
“My whanau in Wellington are all fluent speakers and I hope to learn some day. I’m really proud of my heritage. I learned a new perspective of our history with the rugby team last year,” Love shared.
The New Zealand Māori Schools Cricket team is:
Above: Love Scoring an intercept try for the NZ Māori U18 rugby team against the NZ Schools Barbarians last September.
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The youngest member in the Wellington Blaze squad is excited about getting the chance to take on the table-topping Auckland Hearts this weekend to earn a place in next week’s Women’s domestic competition one-day final.
With a couple of other players including good friend and now White Fern regular Amelia Kerr having left school, Year 13 Queen Margaret College player Xara Jetly is the only current schoolgirl in the Blaze squad for this weekend’s must-win Hallyburton Johnstone Shield double round of 50 over matches.
“It is very exciting for me to get selected in the Blaze squad for this big round of matches,” said Xara. “In the last round I played against Canterbury at Karori Park and I got to bowl and bat, so this is a massive opportunity for me.”
Xara was first picked in the wider Blaze squad at the very start of this season as one of two training partners. “They just called me up and asked me to turn up to training and we will go from there. I went along and next thing I know I was asked to be 13th and 12th man for some of the Super Smash Twenty20 games.”
Xara, who is primarily an off-spin bowler, currently trains with the Blaze twice a week and also does individual sessions with Blaze coach Ivan Tissera.
She plays club cricket for North City, as well as for school Queen Margaret College and for the Wellington U18 and U21 representative teams in their respective national tournaments earlier in the summer.
This is only her fourth season playing outdoor cricket, after making the U15 reps in her first season aged 13.
She is also passionate about another form of cricket.
“My first form of the game I played was indoor cricket, which I started when I was 12 playing with my brother’s team and I love it.”
The Kerr family have had a big influence on her in indoor cricket.
“Robbie has helped me out and I have played with both Amelia and Jess in indoor cricket, and Amelia is one of my role models,” she says.
“I currently play indoor cricket for New Zealand and for Wellington and for fun.”
She played in the U18 Indoor Cricket World Cup last year. “We lost the final against Australia unfortunately. The tournament was supposed to be in Dubai, then South Africa, before finally being moved to Christchurch, so I still got to travel to play!”
In indoor cricket she tends to bat in the second half of the innings. “It is because I can handle pressure, I can just ignore what is happening around me and play my game.”
These mental skills will serve her well transferring to outdoor cricket in the future, along with another key skill of fielding. “I love fielding. Everyone asks if I am a batter or a bowler, but I am a fielder too.” She likes to stake her claim in the field in the cover to point zone.
Cricket isn’t the only sport that Xara plays.
“I play football, futsal, netball, badminton and also volleyball – I did everything last year.”
When the outdoor cricket season comes to a close she hopes to pick up some of those other sports once more. “I will also be training for indoor cricket as I made the New Zealand U21 training squad. There are camps coming up and games against Australia in September.”
With this weekend at the forefront of her mind, to qualify for the domestic cricket grand final, the Wellington Blaze (on 23 points) must realistically beat Auckland (34) twice in a row on Saturday and Sunday, and hope the Central Hinds (28) stumble at least once against fourth placed Otago (18)
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