The Wellington Men’s Under19 side bought home the National U19 title yesterday, ending a long drought for the capital’s age group side.
Although the final against Auckland was rained out, Wellington were deserved winners having topped the table after pool play and shown their strength in the knockout stage.
Cricket Wellington Pathway Manager Chris Nevin was delighted with the result,
“We knew at start of the tournament, when you looked at the players that didn’t make the cut, that we were taking a strong squad to Lincoln.
“It showed the character and depth of the side that when faced with some difficult situations, different players stood up day in and day out to get the team across the line.”
The strength of the squad was evident in their win over Central Districts to reach the final, where Luke Georgeson hit a powerful century at the top of the order before others contributed as they amassed 306 for 4. Haydon Smith then led the bowling unit with a 5-wicket bag as CD fell 58 runs short.
Smith, Nick Greenwood, and Rachin Ravindra were impressive with the ball throughout the tournament, with Ravindra finishing as the second-highest wicket-taker. Greenwood and Smith were economical and effective in their wicket-taking with both bowlers topping the strike rates and averages for the tournament.
While the side’s coaches, Rhys Morgan and Sri Krishnamurthy, rotated players through various postions in the batting line-up, they found a winner in their opening pair of Georgeson and Jakob Bhula whose partnerships in both the semi and rained-out final passed 100.
A feature of the batting throughout the tournament, however, was its depth as Nick Greenwood (twice), Gareth Severin, and Jono Tuffin all contributed vital 50s. Tuffin ended the tournament with the highest strike rate (126.58), largely tanks to an emphatic innings of 66* off 38 balls against Northern Districts.
Nevin paid tribute to the work ethic of the players and the programme in place for the squad,
“The players had been preparing for the tournament since June; from early morning fitness sessions with Firebirds trainer Andrew Smith and specialist sessions with Firebirds’ pace bowler Hamish Bennett, to training throughout the winter and in the lead-up with team coaches Rhys Morgan and Sri Krishnamurthy.
“That preparation is something we need to replicate to ensure quality players continue progressing through the pathway. It was also highly beneficial to be able to train on the grass nets at the Basin Reserve since September.
“We were also lucky to have high quality management and selection to support the coaching and thanks to Jeremy Sprott and Keith Bitchener for providing this”
Following the conclusion of the tournament, New Zealand’s squad for the ICC Under19 Cricket World Cup was named with Wellington providing four players to the side.
Ravindra will return for his second U19 World Cup, with Wellington’s impressive opening duo, Georgeson and Bhula, joining him alongside wicketkeeper Callum McLachlan.
Nevin, himself a former New Zealand U19 representative, was understandably happy for Wellington’s latest national representatives,
“Reflective of the team performance, it was great to see Rachin, Jakob, Luke, and Callum selected in the New Zealand Under19 World Cup squad and we wish them all the best for what will be a special occasion for them on home soil.”
The New Zealand U19 side has a training camp in Tauranga beginning on 17 December 2017, before playing Zimbabwe and Pakistan in non-official warmup matches.
The final preparation before the global youth tournament will see official warmup matches against Zimbabwe U19 and Papua New Guinea U19, on January 8 and 10 respectively.
The World Cup is being held from 13 January to 3 February.