Young cricket guns set to go

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

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.

PHOTO: LAU­REEN KING/ SUP­PLIED

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.

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