The Secondary School Boys’ cricket First XI Cup (First XI Cup) began in 1990 and is among the longest-running competitions in secondary school sport. Many first-class and international cricketers have made their name in this tournament.
The 2016 national finals are being played at Lincoln University from 5-9 December. College Sport Media is profiling the six teams involved.
Squad: Allistar King (Captain & Nelson Mens), David Zohrab ( Nelson U17), Thomas Zohrab (Nelson Mens), Fergus Hughes (Nelson U17) Nick Clark (Nelson Mens) Ben Hazlett, Patrick Howes, (Nelson Mens), Felix Murray ( NZ U19), Jarrod McKay (Nelson U17), Josh Simpson (Nelson U17), Sam Berkett, Alby Murray, (Nelson U17)
Nelson College beat New Plymouth Boys’ High School by 47 runs in the Central Districts qualifying final at Palmerston North’s Fitzherbert Park in March to confirm their second appearance at the tournament in three seasons.
Nelson cricket has grown and flourished under the guidance of former senior representative and present coach Garry MacDonald.
“Josh Clarkson is our most recent first class player. Some years ago the School was stacked with first class and New Zealand old boy reps. This has diminished somewhat in the last 20 years but we are confident it wont be long before we see more of our old boys playing at higher levels,” MacDonald enthuses.
Nelson cricket lost direction but MacDonald has achieved historic results earning Nelson their first Nationals spot two years ago. This season the team is especially strong in batting.
“If our batting can fire then we will be competitive. We have no real superstars but collectively the team fights very hard,” MacDonald says.
Nelson has moved up into the senior mens competition in Nelson where they are competitive without threatening to win any of the competitions yet. To earn their place at Nationals, Nelson had to win the Top of the South Island Colleges tourney, then win the Central districts top four Colleges tourney. MacDonald recalls some of the matches along the way.
“The lads have been involved in many tight games during this campaign as we have to scrap for every win. Our qualifying final against New Plymouth Boys’ was spectacular in as much as we were getting badly beaten for a time but fought hard, set a partnership and finished off with some inspired bowling and fielding.”
Nelson have retained two players from their 2014 appearance. Their roster also includes four Year 13’s and a Year 10. Left-arm spinner Felix Murray is the top wicket taker while Nick Clark is statistically the best batsman to date.
Nelson has a number of outstanding all-round sportsmen in their team. Ben Hazlett is a First XV rugby player. Nick Clark represents the school in basketball, volleyball and underwater hockey while the Zohrab twins and Josh Simpson are all scratch golfers who play for the Tasman Mens team.
MacDonald is grateful for the support of the Nelson community.
“We have massive support from our Headmaster Mr Gary O’Shea, plus the parents are simply amazing. The whole Nelson community have shown an interest in the team, including the Mayor who regularly has a chat to see how we are going. Nelson Cricket do everything they can to assist in our preparation as well. We have some great sponsors on board including Freeman Roofing, Port Nelson, Talleys, Sealord fisheries and Poulos Brothers,” MacDonald finishes.
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