Heat on as ACOB face Stoke-Nayland
Story by: WAYNE MARTIN - Nelson Mail - Photo by: Chris Symes
Athletic College Old Boys' cricket coach Garry MacDonald knows from years of experience the dangers of dwelling on former glories.
ACOB will meet Car Company Stoke-Nayland in Sunday's Nelson Twenty20 final at Saxton Oval, ACOB emerging as the top qualifier with eight wins from 10 round-robin matches. Stoke-Nayland won seven matches.
Previous results suggest ACOB have Stoke-Nayland's measure, ACOB winning by 55 runs in round four at the Marsden Rec and again by 27 runs in last weekend's 10th and final round at the Botanics. But those results are meaningless to MacDonald.
"It means nothing. It's a final and all that other stuff is totally irrelevant to us," MacDonald says.
"Stoke-Nayland have got a very good side and they've powered up. I think they've got five [players] back from when we beat them at the weekend, and finals are on the day.
"To be quite honest, from a coach's point of view, I stress in the round robin trying to get to the final, but once we get there, I'm always very relaxed at final time, and I've been in a few as coach, because I just know that it's on the day and one individual performance can swing it.
"As I said to our boys [at Wednesday's training], it's now your time and history for you to make."
ACOB will be without their key all-rounder, Marty Kain, who is playing for the Central Stags in the Ford Trophy one-day final against the Auckland Aces at Pukekura Park.
However, ACOB are used to operating without him and have based much of their success around disciplined, energetic fielding. Add the experience of English allrounder Jake Milton, the explosive batting of Greg Chitty, Simon McGowan and skipper Luke Toynbee and some generally tight bowling to the mix, and ACOB are well equipped to substantiate their top billing.
Stoke-Nayland skipper Ryan Edwards is respectful of an ACOB side which, he believes, warrants their position as top qualifier.
"I think obviously they probably go in as slight favourites. They have played some pretty good Twenty20 cricket this year and Garry MacDonald has got them going pretty well, especially in the field and with the ball," Edwards says.
"That first time they beat us at the [Marsden] Rec ... that 20 overs or hour and a half fielding they showed was one of the best I've seen for a long time, whether it be Twenty20 cricket, one-day cricket or two-day cricket."
Edwards says a lot of responsibility obviously falls on his top six batsmen and their ability to exploit the middle stages of the innings.
He is also confident that his experienced bowling attack, led by in-form Nelson representatives Marty King and Darius Skeaping with support from allrounder Connor Neynens, will help to counter some previously effective ACOB batting.
Those three players and bowler Dylan Eginton were missing from last week's side, although wicketkeeper Mitchell Drummond is unavailable.
Edwards says there is another significant reason Stoke-Nayland are "hungry" for success on Sunday: the big prize – the Colin Aitken Trophy – is named in memory of the Stoke club stalwart who died last year.
Sunday's game starts at Saxton Oval at 3pm and will be preceded by the second-grade final, also between ACOB and Stoke-Nayland.
ACOB (from): Greg Chitty, Simon McGowan, Ben Gully, Jake Milton, Tony Watkins, Luke Toynbee (captain), Marc Allsopp, Jack Gully, Jake Cooley, Jaap Dickman, Glen Baumfield, Clinton Harvey.
STOKE-NAYLAND: Mark Douglas, Ben Homan, Ryan Edwards (captain), Connor Neynens, Alex Coles, Jacob Beleski, Todd Marwick, Dylan Eginton, Marty King, Darius Skeaping, Mitchell Ross.