By Ahmad Khawaja
Christchurch is gearing up for the hosting of its first Club Nationals tournament since 2009 next week, with the tournament set to kick off next Thursday 13th September up to the finals on Saturday 15th September.
A record 40 teams have entered into grades featuring the Premier Men’s, Open Men’s, Over-40s (Masters) and 21 & Under Boy’s. The Open Men’s and 21 & Under Boy’s grade competitions will take place at the newly refurbished Howzat Riccarton Indoor Sports whilst the Premier Men’s and Over-40s Men’s grade competitions will be held at Action Indoor Sports Hornby. The earliest matches each day will commence at 8.30am while there will be a throwback to indoor cricket times gone by with a 10.30pm finish for some teams on Thursday night.
“A lot of excitement around the country for this tournament”
ICNZ Executive Mark Cini is looking forward to the prospective hosting of the tournament of a city which has fallen on hard times, but which has just come off a successful stint as the venue for the Junior Provincials Tournament. He has sensed some real excitement around Club Nationals this year, with the record number of teams entering the event just one indicator.
“The earthquake had disrupted the hosting of the event in Christchurch in recent years, so it’s brilliant to have it back. We have an unprecedented number of teams entered into the event this year, with a Gold Coast Over-40s team from Australia entering for the second year running. It’s a very popular competition”, said Cini. He was also delighted in seeing teams from other regions come back into the National spotlight. “Dunedin will be entering a side in the Open’s competition, as will be Nelson. They haven’t been at Nationals for a few years, so it’s great to get them back into the mix. We had them compete at the South Island Championships earlier this year”, Cini noted. “It’s also great to build on the Junior side by having the 21 & Under Boy’s play – expect there to be a number of boys in the 13-17 years of age bracket in there, guys who have already competed at the Junior Provincials and who you could well see at the Junior World Series”.
The majority of umpires being utilised at the tournament will also be non-playing, which Cini noted was a change from previous tournaments. “Around 90% of the matches will be umpired by non-players, which is really good to see. It just means they have their direct focus on the games at hand and do not have to have the additional burden of playing. The other positive aspect is that a lot of these umpires will also be umpiring at the Junior World Series later this month so this will be a good gauge for them”, Cini exclaimed. He continued “Led by Wayne Robertson (Umpires Co-ordinator), the guys have done a fantastic job this season. The likes of Glen Stevenson and Kat Wenborn have really stepped up this season and it has been great to see; this will hold them in good stead coming towards a World tournament at the end of this month”.
The tournament commences next Thursday 13th September with matches starting at 8.30am that day. The finals (semi-finals and grand finals) of all grades will be played at Action Indoor Sports Hornby, with the Premier Men’s final taking place at 4pm followed by presentations.
The draw for the tournament is available on the website at the following link: https://indoorcricketnz.org.nz/events-results/nationals/