North City raring to go out and bat
The new cricket season is almost upon us – well, maybe.
Traditionally, the summer code kicks off over Labour Weekend, but a dreadful winter has meant many grounds are not in the best shape. There have been concerns the start of the season – scheduled this coming weekend – may be delayed, but the North City seniors are ready to walk out onto the wicket.
They are set to play two Twenty20 games at Kilbirnie Park on Saturday and a one-dayer against Collegians at Linden on Monday. New Norths skipper Russell Kyne has assumed the mantle after the retirements of Sam Fairley and Ben Jansen. They will also be without Michael Martin, who is studying in Hamilton, while Firebirds Mark Gillespie, Dewayne Bowden, Ili Tugaga and Joe Austin-Smellie – the latter two earning Wellington contracts for the first time – will be absent on rep duties during summer.
‘‘Ben and Sam wanted to move on; we might get them back for the odd game, but it just means the rest of us have to step up,’’ Kyne says. ‘‘We still have that core of senior players [ such as Aaron McCash, Fraser Quarterman, Michael Pollard and the returning Nick Angus] and we’re looking forward to a good season. We’re fit, been training for eight weeks now and everyone’s ready to go.’’
The bowling attack will still be strong with Gillespie, Quarterman, Tipene Friday, Tugaga and new spinner Raj Chawla giving Kyne plenty of options, at the outset of the club season at least. Angus will help shore up a top order that will surely miss Fairley and Jansen.
After making the two-day final in 2008, last season was one where relegation was briefly flirted with, before settling midtable. Kyne is confident they will ‘‘push for the finals’’ in 2011, saying the top four is their target.
‘‘We’re the sort of team, who, if we get on a roll and win a few games in a row, can really be a threat.’’
He admits the departure of coach Duncan Murray, who wanted more time with his family, is a blow, as he breathed life into the senior players when he came on board three seasons ago.
‘‘ He definitely brought an energy to the team and got us up when things weren’t working so well and heads dropped. He’s going to help us out when he can but we have to learn to help ourselves more.’’
Kyne is no stranger to captaincy, having previously skippered Wellington at under-17 and under-19 levels. This will be his sixth season in the Pearce Cup, so he knows what is expected intends to relish the new role.
‘‘I’ve always thought of myself as a leader and I’ve been in charge of a few games [for Norths] in the past. I’ll take this chance with both hands, and it will help having guys like McCash and Pollard around me. They have such a good knowledge base.’’