It may have been their first time qualifying for the Gillette Cup national finals, but this proved no barrier to the St Andrew’s College First XI, which played spectacular cricket to win the title, and reach the pinnacle of New Zealand secondary schools’ one-day cricket.
Coach Mike Johnston says the win over Hamilton Boys’ High School in the final match was a standout, when the St Andrew’s side scored 276/8 in their 50 overs, and bowled the Hamilton side out for 102. “The boys played a complete game of cricket and put on a magnificent display of batting, bowling and fielding. Everything we did clicked into place.”
Star players in the side included Rhys Mariu (named joint MVP at the tournament) and Jesse Frew (both Year 13), who were selected for the New Zealand U19 cricket team this year. Both scored well with the bat, with Frew achieving an outstanding 103 against Otago Boys’ High School. His off-spin bowling also proved dangerous, securing him 11 wickets for the tournament.
Zakary Foulkes (Year 12) was another century-maker in the team with an impressive 110 against Rosmini College.
Johnston says while the stand-out players performed well, the team’s strength was that it didn’t rely on them, with all 13 team members stepping up and contributing with the bat, ball, or in the field during the tournament. “Everyone played their role exceptionally well. Our pace bowlers all bowled well in their spells, and our fielders were superb, and definitely a class above.”
St Andrew’s batted first in all five matches, amassing impressive scores of over 300 runs against Wellington College, Rosmini College, and Otago Boys’ High School, which the team defended with ease.
The only blip came in the third round against Lindisfarne College, when St Andrew’s mustered 141/9 in their 50 overs, which was surpassed by Lindisfarne in 42.1 overs.
The win over Hamilton Boys’ High School in the final match secured the championship for St Andrew’s College, which is one of the very few co-educational schools to win the title since the competition began in 1990.
After making it to six regional finals where they were “pipped on the post” a couple of times, Johnston says winning the national title is particularly sweet. “Just to get to here has been a long time coming, so to win the title in our first year is something very special. It is definitely right up there as one of the highlights of my cricket and coaching career.”
A five-match tour of Australia in October set the players up well for their excellent results in both the regional and national sections of the tournament, he says. “The boys share a very strong bond, have a lot of fun together, and really enjoy their cricket. We also had a great support team around us, with co-coach, Robbie Frew, and manager Pete Darling both outstanding. We also received huge support from the St Andrew’s College community during the week, and the wider Canterbury community who turned out on the final day to support us.”
The St Andrew’s College First XI played spectacular cricket to win the title, and reach the pinnacle of New Zealand secondary schools’ one-day cricket.