01 April 2019

St Albans Cricket Club to represent Canterbury in National Club Championships

The search is on for New Zealand’s top cricket club and all six contenders will need to be top of their game.

The elite field for the 2019 NZCT National Club Cricket Championship — traditionally the final act of the New Zealand cricket season — is shaping as the strongest in 25 years.

Some of the biggest hitters in The Ford Trophy and Burger King Super Smash — the ilk of the Knights’ Brett “Hammer” Hampton, who will be turning out for his Greerton club, and Wellington Firebirds powerhouse Michael “Beast” Bracewell who will be trying to regain the title for Wellington’s Eastern Suburbs — will be out to lift the national title from defending champions Napier Technical Old Boys in the week-long showdown at Auckland’s Cornwall Park.

A dynastic force on the Hawke’s Bay club cricket scene in recent years, NTOB (nicknamed the “Texans”) is the only club to have returned from last season’s championship, after again qualifying from the Central Districts Cricket Association region. In line for a third title overall, it’s the club’s ninth appearance at nationals since 1995 in the long-running tournament hosted by Auckland’s Cornwall Cricket Club, and an opportunity to add to crowns they won in 2003 and last year with player-coach Jesse Ryder, Christian Leopard and youngster Izaiah Lange to the fore.

The club can also draw on powerful Central Stag and ex-County player Kieran Noema-Barnett who is looking to add a club champs medal to the Burger King Super Smash and Plunket Shield mementoes already in his collection from his summer.

Eastern Suburbs also bring a strong recent record, however — not to mention a strong, experienced squad that also includes Wellington A rep and occasional Firebirds allrounder Jamie Gibson who was the individual star of their winning 2017 campaign and awarded Player of the Tournament for two years straight. Easts won the title back-to-back in 2016 and 2017. One of Wellington’s most successful senior club sides in recent years, this week will also be their ninth appearance since 1995, likewise on the hunt for their third national trophy overall.

The Parnell Cricket Club, which turned 161 years old this season (established 1858), won Auckland Cricket Association’s Jeff Crowe Cup to qualify and will be putting their best foot forward for the host city while Canterbury representatives St Albans have headed north with high hopes after having put together “one of our best squads ever for this time of year”.

Dunedin’s Green Island has won back-to-back national titles twice (in 1999 and 2000; and again in 2005 and 2006) and returns to the nationals for the first time in 11 seasons looking to give their veteran retiring captain Dion Lobb a winning send-off.

Lobb will have at his disposal current or recent Otago Volts Christi Viljoen, Gregor Croudis, Blair Soper and Brad Wilson (who retired from Domestic representative cricket at the conclusion of the Plunket Shield two weeks ago) as well as young Southland leg-spinner Jack Mockford and former Northland wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Kneebone.

Each team plays each other once across the 50-over, round-robin format, all with an initial goal of qualifying in the top two by close of play on Saturday 6 April. The top two clubs will then meet in Sunday’s 1v2 final on the number one oval to decide the 2018/19 national champion, while the remaining teams concurrently battle it out for the minor places in the 3v4 and 5v6 playoffs on the two adjacent ovals. All matches are free admission to the public.

The six finalists of 2019:
• Greerton (from Tauranga in Northern Districts)
• Parnell (Auckland)
• Napier Technical Old Boys (from Hawke’s Bay in Central Districts)
• Eastern Suburbs (Wellington)
• St Albans (from Christchurch in Canterbury)
• Green Island (from Dunedin in Otago)

NZCT National Club Cricket Championship
Cornwall Cricket Club, Auckland
2-7 April 2019

Round One
10am, Tuesday, 2 April 2019

• Parnell v Green Island, Cornwall Park No.3
• St Albans v Eastern Suburbs, Cornwall Park No.2
• Napier Technical Old Boys v Greerton, Cornwall Park No.1