Cole McConchie spent much of the winter refining his batting technique and he’s reaping the rewards.
At the end of last summer, the 25-year-old sat down with Canterbury cricket coaches Gary Stead, Brendon Donkers and senior players Andrew Ellis and Peter Fulton.
The consensus was if McConchie wanted to feature regularly in all three forms, he needed to develop greater consistency with the bat.
McConchie made his Canterbury one-day debut in November, 2011, as an offspinner, who could chip in with handy lower order runs.
He’s transformed himself into a middle order batsman and been a quiet achiever in Canterbury’s journey through to Saturday’s Ford Trophy final against Wellington at Rangiora.
Batting at No 6, he’s been instrumental in the closing stages of the innings, providing valuable runs to lift Canterbury to defendable totals and wins.
McConchie comes into the final in top form, having hit unbeaten knocks of 50, 40 and 28, mixed in with a 38 – the only time he has been dismissed in his past four innings.
“I stayed in Christchurch over the winter and worked really, really hard,” McConchie said.
“The more training I put in, the better and better it got. It kind of fuelled me to keep going. There was plenty of hours at the indoor. It’s really good to see the benefits of it coming out now.”
McConchie battled for 50-over opportunities in his early years in the Canterbury set-up, making just six appearances over four summers.
The past two seasons, he’s become an established member of the white ball side, playing 18 Ford Trophy matches and lining up often in the Twenty20 competition.
McConchie is an asset in limited overs cricket with his sharpness in the field. Many rate him as one of the finest in a strong Canterbury fielding unit.
Being in and out of the Canterbury side early in his domestic career was tough for McConchie, who sometimes wondered whether he belonged in first class cricket.
He said it strengthened his resolve and made him appreciate the progress he had made.
“I certainly had a couple of those doubts. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.
“It’s always been a massive hunger of mine playing for Canterbury – going down to watch them play as a young kid. There’s always been that burning fire inside of me wanting to play for Canterbury and New Zealand.
“Through those hard times you kind of look back on that stuff and it keeps you heading in the right direction.”
McConchie has enjoyed a breakout summer, bringing up his maiden domestic century during a Plunket Shield match against Otago in Invercargill in November, where he scored 103.
For the first time in five years, he’s become an option in all three forms.
Canterbury captain Ellis rated McConchie as among the most improved cricketers in the province.
“You see cricketers that come from the start and you know they’re going to be class acts. Then someone like Cole, who has all that talent, but he’s probably had to work harder for his opportunities,” Ellis said.
“It’s great to see his progress. He works bloody hard.”
Ellis said McConchie was a natural leader and believed he had the future ability to step in as skipper.
McConchie is a proud Riccarton lad. He attended Riccarton High and has played premier cricket for the Riccarton club since debuting as a 16-year-old.
He was in the Canterbury side, who lost last year’s Ford Trophy final to Central Districts in New Plymouth, which still stung.
Canterbury were smashed around the tiny boundaries of Pukekura Park, giving up a mammoth 405 runs, which they never threatened in reply.
“I know myself included, a lot of people were hurting after that. To fall at the final hurdle was a real shame.
“We know if we play a good 100 overs of cricket, we’ll be there or there abouts to get the trophy.”
Article courtesy of Brendon Egan – Stuff