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Rain reigns over summer sport

Bar a few events, the summer, or should it be the rainy sports season, has pretty much come to an end, and it’s time to reflect on what has been a frustrating six months for players, officials, and administrators.

Rain, rain, and more rain. That’s the story of what could barely be described as a summer of sport, with countless cancellations, deferrals, and washouts, and no code was spared.

So where to start?

Cricket

The highlights are individual rather than team efforts.

Top of the list is 16-year-old Emma McLeod, who represented New Zealand in the inaugural Women’s Under-19 T20 World Cup in South Africa, making an immediate impact with a rapid-fire 59 in their win over Rwanda on their way to the semifinals. McLeod then highlighted her massive potential with 53 on her Hallyburton-Johnstone Trophy debut for the Central Hinds against Canterbury Magicians.

All-rounder Ocean Bartlett toured India with the national development squad and again impressed for the Hinds, claiming a career-best 4-60 against Canterbury.

Veteran Central Stags medium-pacer Seth Rance made a rare appearance for Wairarapa count with a record haul of 9-26 in the first-innings win over Whanganui in October. Unfortunately, Rance’s season was cruelly cut short. Surgery for a serious shoulder injury will see him out of the game for up to 12 months.

The Whanganui match was also a boon for captain Jared van Deventer, who scored a magnificent 160, which is believed to be Wairarapa’s third-highest representative score.

Four centuries by hard-hitting left-hander Robbie Anderson, including a first rep ton, is also worthy of mention.

On the representative scene, the senior men were fifth of six teams in the Furlong Cup-Hawke Cup elimination series and a meritorious fourth at the Chapple Cup tournament, which was reduced to T20 games because of [you guessed it] rain. The Southey Sayer Wairarapa Korus were fourth of five teams in the women’s Mike Shrimpton Trophy.

The rain had the biggest impact, though, on the Coastal Challenge, with the region’s sole representative, Burger King Red Star, missing out on two of their three home games because of the big wet.

To say the standard of club cricket was poor is an understatement, and there was no better example than the premier club championship, the Bidwill Cup, won by Red Star, who barely raised a sweat making the final, which they won when the rain ended the contest on the first day.

The franchise T20 competition won by OG Strikers was, however, a success.

Sadly the overall standard of club cricket was no better than a low-level social grade.

SOFTBALL

Is there a sport as poorly administered as softball? Ask Masterton’s Giants Club, and you won’t get any argument.

Giants Blue did walk away with the Intercity premier two title, winning all but one game. Their 7-0 thumping of Demons in the final underlined their dominance, but confirmation that the decider would go ahead last Saturday was not relayed to Giants until late Thursday.

The drama came in premier three, where Giants Red were controversially defaulted from their semifinal by Intercity Softball, who would not accept the club’s dispensation, along with other clubs, because most of the team members were playing in the National Evergreens tournament.

Confusing? Definitely, but was it incorrect? Possibly not, but it smacks of pretty amateurish administration.

The Giants women continued their rise up the ranks, making the Hutt Valley premier three semifinals. Again, though, their season was racked with defaults and cancellations.

TENNIS

The interclub season wrapped up last Sunday, with Martinborough winning a fourth title in five years beating Carterton 5-4 in the final, which was deferred from Saturday because of rain.

Although only three teams contested the premier Gawith Shield, the general consensus was that the standard of the top players was good and very even.

German teenage girl Mara Beyerle was an interesting inclusion in the men’s ranks, going through the interclub season unbeaten. Beyerle and veteran Matt Spooner combined to win the pre-Christmas interclub Shirley Corlett Trophy.

The senior season will conclude this weekend with the Wairarapa rep side making a return to the lower North Island Hexangular tournament after a four-year absence.

On the junior scene, William Orsborn continues to shine in the Central Region, and sister Olivia was selected to represent Central at the national age group tournament next month.

BOWLS

More of a year-round sport now with the advent of indoor facilities and outdoor artificial surfaces, but most major events are still played throughout summer.

The representative season finished disastrously with the Wairarapa men sixth of seven and the women sixth and last in their sections at last week’s national intercentre championships in Christchurch.

The men had previously finished fourth and the women eighth at the lower North Island octagonal tournament. Their annual quad tournament with Wellington, Kapiti, and Manawatu was washed out.

Martinborough retained their interclub men’s and women’s titles and will represent the province at the national playoffs next month.

Although now representing Manawatu, former Solway College student Olivia Mancer highlighted her potential with selection in the national Under-26 team for the Oceania Challenge in Auckland in April.

OVERALL

A frustrating season for the four major summer codes, with rain reigning on many of their events.

As for the playing depth, the general impression from knowledgeable people within their sports is that enthusiasm is high, but there simply isn’t the depth to be a force at a higher level.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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