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Cullen Crowe, left, has his eyes fixed on the ball as he plays a classic cut shot. Photo: SUPPLIED/LEON SMITH

Hauraki cricketers dominate higher-ranked opponents

Something akin to Thames Valley playing for, and winning the Ranfurly Shield, is how the performance by Hauraki Plains College cricketers in defeating Whangarei Boys High School in the third round of the national secondary schools Gillette Cup competition last week could be regarded.
In the fixture played at a neutral venue – the picturesque Kaipara Flats cricket oval – Hauraki completely dominated their higher-ranked opponents in all aspects of the game, winning by more than 150 runs.
Hauraki made a slow start to their innings against accurate bowling by the experienced Whangarei Boys bowlers. The well-groomed but heavily-grassed outfield also made run scoring difficult, but once Nihindu Wickramathunga and Hunter Crowe came together and began finding gaps in the field, the momentum changed.
For the rest of the innings, the Hauraki players showed the benefits of intense pre-season preparations and completely dominated proceedings against their bewildered opponents.
As the innings progressed, Anthony Barker and Cullen Crowe continued the run gathering at an increasing rate. When Trent Ball came to the wicket with nine overs remaining, he settled in for a minimum number of balls before launching an all out attack with clean straight hitting which completed silenced the ‘chirpy’ bowling line up from earlier in the day. Whangarei’s openers made a solid start to the team’s innings before brilliant catching, secure ground fielding and accurate throwing from the outfield simply squeezed the life out of the run chase. Jaxon Haskall was outstanding in this aspect, while his team mates lifted their work rate also. All Hauraki bowlers were rewarded for their accuracy and enthusiasm, supported by well set fields by captain Hunter Crowe, with Dan Sproul again to the fore with four wickets to his credit.
If this game was a ”Ranfurly Shield” victory, the next game for Hauraki Plains College – against Hamilton Boys High School always rated near the top of New Zealand’s cricketing secondary schools, will be like playing the “All Blacks”. However, David did defeat a giant many long years ago. It’s time it happened again!
Match details: Hauraki Plains College 263 for five wickets off 50 overs. Nihindu Wickramathunga 70, Trent Ball 53 not out, Cullen Crowe 45 not out, Anthony Barker 30, Hunter Crowe 25, defeated Whangarei Boys High School 112. Dan Sproul, 4 wickets for 16 from six overs.
– Mike Cotter