Young cricket guns set to go
The 2016 cricket season may be in its last overs, but young players at Winchester School can celebrate its end in style.
Last week, at a community picnic on the school grounds, the school officially opened an allweather cricket wicket.
With the game enjoying a high profile at the moment courtesy of Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson, and with some respect and reverence for the late Martin Crowe, the eager young players and their volunteer coaches are looking forward to many an innings on the newly installed pitch.
‘‘Cricket has really taken off with the kids,’’ says principal Dan Murphy.
‘‘Now they are able to host other teams here. It will save them having to travel away all the time.’’
The young cricketers of the school’s three teams, and (of course) their parents, regularly drive to play in Feilding, Levin and Pahiatua for their age-grade 25-over matches.
Patron of Manawatu Cricket, Vern Chettleburgh sent the first ball down the $14,000 wicket, before facing some of the school’s talented bowlers. The former city councillor donates a new ball every year to the team, something Dan says he has done for the last two decades.
The wicket was sited with advice from Manawatu Cricket, so that other sporting codes can also use the grounds.
Nine-year-old Harvey Myers got his like for bat-and-ball-games when living in the US. Cricket he sees as a substitute for baseball.
‘‘I really like it. It’s a really cool wicket and fun to play on.’’
The young bowler delivers pace and spin, but prefers the fast ball, and as for current cricketing heroes, is a fan of Trent Boult.
‘All rounder’ 10-year-old Billy Easton has a preference for retired Kiwi captain Brendon McCullum.
As the boys send balls down the wicket, some at a frightening speed, the talk is of ‘‘inside edges’’ and ‘‘in the block’’ amid sporadic cries of ‘‘catch it!’’.
‘‘They’ve got all the lingo and the attitude,’’ Dan laughs, but if these primary-aged kids are anything to go by, the future of Kiwi cricket is looking pretty rosy.
Manawatu Cricket patron Vern Chettleburgh faces opening deliveries from Winchester School’s ‘demon quicks’ on the new all-weather wicket, while keeper Billy Easton, 10, waits to pounce on any hint of an edge.