Hawke Cup Challenge
Hamilton vs North Otago
Galloway Park, Hamilton, 26/27/28 January 2002


North Otago 211 ( M. Wilson 94no, P.A. Todd 44, D.J. Drew 44, Orchard 5-34, Martin 4-79 ) & 154 ( G.J. Billcliff 34, D.J. Drew 26, S.A. Simpson 24, Martin 4-50, Irwin 2-23, Orchard 2-30 )
Hamilton 301 ( G.G. Robinson 59, M.G. Orchard 58, J.P. Nolen 52no, N. M. Daley 35, A. Somani 28, B.P. Martin 21, Sewell 4-40, Rushton 3-60 ) & 66-0 ( G.G. Robinson 36no, P.T. Otto 27no )
Hamilton won by 10 wickets
Scorecard for the match

David Sewell

Since North Otago's last challenge for the Hawke Cup, then called the U-Bix Challenge, in 1991 there had been a number of changes in the format of the competition. Due to restructuring of the competition North Otago found itself in the Otago zone or the Southern Zone of the competition along with Southland and Central Otago. Previously North Otago had played South Canterbury and Mid Canterbury/ Ashburton along with Southland and Central Otago in order to earn a challenge against the current holders. Otago Metropolitan had been part of the Southern Zone, however after wining the Hawke Cup in 2000 with a team stacked with Otago first class players, major metropolitan sides were banned from taking part in a Hawke Cup Challenge, this left North Otago with two teams to beat in order to win a challenge.

The North Otago team of 2001-02 was the most competitive team that the association had provided for the past few seasons. The team consisted of four players who would at some stage in their cricketing careers would play first class cricket for Otago (Neil Rushton, David Sewell, Duncan Drew and Craig Smith) and Smith would in 2004 play for the New Zealand under-19 team in the under-19 World Cup. Another who would have considerable cricketing success is Scott Simpson who, as a member of the Green Island cricket team in Dunedin would help them to becoming the first New Zealand club champions.

Neil Rushton

North Otago started its Hawke Cup campaign with victory against Central Otago, Billcliff taking 6-38 in the first innings and Rushton taking 6-42 in the second. In the return match North Otago had a comprehensive win by an innings and 137 runs, with the team putting up 297-8 declared in their only innings. Four batsman made scores over 30 (Duncan Drew 49, Chris Cunningham 41, Neil Rushton 33) while Grant Billcliff top scored with 59. In the bowling once again it was Billcliff and Rushton who performed superbly with Billcliff taking 4-22 in the first innings and Rushton taking 5-27. The home game against Southland was rained out which left North Otago only needing first innings points against Southland in Invercargill. Southland came close to taking the points away from them but North Otago recorded a first innings lead of 1 run meaning for the first time in 11 years and only the third time in history, North Otago would challenge for the Hawke Cup.

Hamilton was the holders of the Hawke Cup. After the success of the Otago Metro side, the following season saw a knockout competition take place between the top four second class sides in the country to determine the holder of the Cup. Hamilton had qualified for the final after taking first innings points in the semi-final against the best South Island side, Canterbury Country with future black cap Peter Fulton scoring 119 for Country. In the final against Hawkes Bay, Bruce Martin was to take 8 wickets, with Hamilton winning by a comfortable 7 wickets.

Bruce Martin
(from cricinfo)

The following year the Hawke Cup reverted back to a challenge basis. With North Otago's success in the Southern Zone it was the first team to challenge Hamilton for the Cup. During the week it looked like Robbie Hart might be selected to play for the holders, but selection for Northern Districts made him unavailable. Despite the unavailability of Hart, the Hamilton side still presented a formidable prospect for North Otago. Included in the team were New Zealand Representative Bruce Martin and Northern Districts Representative Mark Orchard.

The North Otago team that took part in the Hawke Cup Challenge was:
Mark Wilson (captain), Duncan Drew, Neil Rushton (Union), Paul Todd (player-coach, Valley), Daniel Gard, Grant Billcliff, Craig Smith (St Kevin's College), Chris Cunningham (Albion), Sharuban Pasupati, David Sewell (Oamaru) and Scott Simpson (Waitaki Boys High School).

After the successful defence Hamilton would hold the cup until the last challenge of the season when it was lost to Manawatu. The following season saw Manawatu lose its first defence ironically against Hamilton.

The Oamaru Mail published two articles on the match, one on the 23rd of January under the title "Wilson leads way in cup challenge" containing information on the first two days play, and then the second on the 24th of January under the title "Cup cricketers fall short" with information on the final days play. Both articles were written by Phil McCarthy and are reproduced in full below.

The first article:

Hamilton's grip on the cricket's Hawke Cup looks secure after the first two days play against challengers North Otago. However, North Otago coach Paul Todd says his team is intent on getting a result today - either way.
The cup holders resumed on 293 for eight at Hamilton's Galloway Park this morning looking to build on an 84-run overnight lead over North Otago's first innings effort of 211.
Todd said his team needed to take the last couple of Hamilton wickets quickly, then try and get some quick runs to set a target for the home team.
The Hamilton batting effort was exactly what was required to hold on to the cup. Their batsman eased to 295 of 117 overs at a pedestrian run rate of two-and-a-half an over.
"Basically they been playing negative cricket. It's much easier to retain the cup. I think we'd do exactly the same thing," Todd said this morning.
North Otago's first innings started brightly after the early loss of Daniel Gard, with Todd stroking a breezy 44 in partnership with captain Mark Wilson. At 57 for three the innings was looking shaky, but Wilson and Duncan Drew (44) steadied the ship with a 115-run partnership, taking the score through to 172 before the fourth wicket fell.
This precipitated a lower order collapse as former New Zealand representative leg-spinner Bruce Martin and pace man David Orchard stamped their mark on the game. North Otago's last seven wickets fell for 39 runs as Martin (four for 79) and Orchard (five for 34) soured the visitors day.
The high point of the innings was Wilson's stoic 94 not out, representing a true and much needed captain's knock.
The Hamilton reply also began shakily. Opener Grant Robinson had lost three partners as the score ticked past 50, but solid contributions from Robinson (59) and the versatile Orchard (58), got the chase back on track.
The difference between the team was the lower order batting, as Hamilton passed the North Otago total with just six wickets down. They continued to build a handy first innings lead, with captain Adil Somani (28), Martin (21), Nathan Daley (35) and James Nolan (48 not out) all making useful contributions.
North Otago left-arm pace man David Sewell bowled with fire to return four for 40 of 24 overs. Neil Rushton (one for 55), Grant Billcliff (one for 79), Sharuban Pasupati (one for 49) and Craig Smith were economical without being threatening.
Todd said the team had to play for a result during the final day today.
"Whatever happens they're giving 110 percent - everybody should be pleased with these boys. We're going to go out with all guns blazing today."

The Second article

A valiant effort form North Otago in its Hawke Cup cricket challenge against cup holders Hamilton was repulsed yesterday, as the home team cruised to a 10-wicket win on the final afternoon of play.
Needing an outright win to left the cup North Otago took the field, with Hamilton resuming on 295 for eight. They cleaned up the final two wickets for the addition of just six more runs.
North Otago trailed by 99 runs on the first innings and looked to build some sort of lead.
The early loss of player-coach Paul Todd for 10 and first innings hero Mark Wilson for three had the visitors even further on the back foot. Otago representative Duncan Drew and middle order stalwart Grant Billcliff resurrected the innings from 19 for three, before Hamilton wicketkeeper Nathan Daley had Drew stumped for 26.
Billcliff went for 34 from the pace of Mark Orchard, but it was the slow bowlers who did the damage down the order.
Leg-spinner Bruce Martin picked up the tail cheaply, with three stumping's by Daley, to finish with four for 50 as the Galloway Park pitch began to take some sharp spin.
Youngster Scott Simpson batted well for 24 as North Otago tried to push the score along. He was well supported by Sharuban Pasupati (18).
North Otago got through to 154 in 43 overs, setting the Hamilton team a modest target of 64 runs in order to seal an outright victory.
Opener Grant Robinson complimented his first innings half century with a fluent 36 not out, which should put him back in contention for the Northern Districts squad.
In partnership with Phillip Otto (27 not out), Robinson took Hamilton through to 66 without loss to complete a successful first defence of the Hawke Cup this season.
North Otago coach Paul Todd said his team needed 60 to 70 more runs in the first innings to seriously challenge the strong Hamilton team.
"The effort was great and the experience will do them the world of good, especially the younger lads," he said.
The pressure to score runs quickly in the second innings was too much against an experienced bowling attack, he said.
Todd praised the effort of his own quick bowlers Neil Rushton and David Sewell, who toiled well in hot, muggy conditions throughout the match.
"I'm very proud of them all," he said.

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