Jake Jonas has become a vital cog at the top order for Red Star. PHOTOS/FILE
Burger King Red Star go into today’s Coastal Challenge semifinal against Levin Old Boys in Levin confident they can take the next step and make the final.
After a slow start in the combined Wairarapa, Horowhenua-Kapiti, and Whanganui competition, in which Red Star had a washout and two losses in their first three games, they have won five out six games and finished fourth in the 50-overs tournament.
That has included convincing wins over defending champions Whanganui United and two-time champions and last season’s runners-up Paraparaumu.
Their only loss since November was to Whanganui Tech Old Boys, who play United in the other semifinal.
Red Star captain Peter Sigvertsen said the good run of form has seen the confidence rise in the team.
“We’re starting to grow as a playing group. We’ve had a good season. We targeted the top four and we’ve made it, and hopefully we can get another game in.”
Sigvertsen was well aware of the threat posed by a Levin Old Boys side with several representative players.
“They have three-quarters of the Horowhenua-Kapiti side, with three key batsmen — Matt Good, Chad Law, and Dion Sanson. We need to knock off the top of their order and restrict their batting,” he said.
“We played them in the first game up and won the toss and batted first on a green top when we probably should’ve bowled.
“We had them four down and Stefan [Hook] was bowling the fastest I’ve seen him bowl, so we missed a chance in that game.”
Levin Old Boys have been the dominant team of the championship having won seven games with their only loss coming last Saturday against United.
Red Star have been forced to make one change to the side that convincingly beat Paraparaumu by 119 runs in their final round robin match last Saturday.
Wairarapa representative Robbie Anderson is unavailable and his place at number three is taken by Tim Burling, who has stepped up from the second team with some success throughout the season.
In his most recent outing in the tournament, Burling scored 43 in the win over Whanganui Collegiate on December 21.
Much depends on the openers giving Red Star a good start and a lot of the onus falls on Rathkeale student Jake Jonas, who scored a watchful 84 on a tricky Queen Elizabeth Park Oval pitch in the win over Paraparaumu.
“Jake’s only 16 and he’s become one of our vital players. If he can bat through the innings, it gives us a really good base to work on” Sigvertsen said.
The experienced Brock Price, at number four, Stefan Hook, who has developed into a useful allrounder, and wicketkeeper Nathan Elliott also have the potential to score big runs quickly.
Hook, Sigvertsen, and Jacob Osborne, who has made a habit of picking up key wickets at vital times will shoulder the seam bowling duties.
Ojas Patel, Price, and Cole Freeman are capable spin bowlers and should play a vital role with Donnelly Park noted for providing slow pitches.
Making the semifinals in their second season in the competition signifies a remarkable turnaround for Red Star, who finished 10th and last in the 2018-19, with only one win.
If Red Star win, they will play the final in Whanganui against the winner of the Tech Old Boys-United game.
Red Star team:
Peter Sigvertsen [captain], Jake Jonas, Richard French, Tim Burling, Brock Price, Stefan Hook, Nathan Elliott, Anthony Sprowson, Cole Freeman, Jacob Osborne, Ojas Patel.