13th man: Queenstown cricketer Toby Hart surrounded by his New Zealand A teammates during their game against West Indies last weekend. PICTURE: JAMES ALLAN PHOTOGRAPHY


In a dream scenario for any young cricketer, Queenstown’s Toby Hart got to rub shoulders with the New Zealand A team last week.

The 17-year-old fast bowler, who was named in the national under-19 development squad this winter, was minding his own business at home last Thursday night when he got a call from one of his coaches, former Black Cap Paul Wiseman.

Wiseman told him one of NZ A’s bowlers, Michael Rae, was out with concussion, and he was needed for ‘13th man’ duties for the team’s three-day match against the West Indies the next day.

Toby reckons he wasn’t chosen for his fielding skills.

‘‘I’m just one of the only cricket players that Paul Wiseman knows from Queenstown, and I think he just had to get someone in quickly.’’

The next morning he found himself nervously doing warm-ups with the likes of test regular Henry Nicholls.

‘‘I didn’t get much time to think about it … I was trying to get a good night’s sleep, but it was racing through my mind all the possible things that could happen.’’

But Toby says he was soon put at ease by the ‘‘really nice’’ players, and got stuck into his duties running out drinks, gloves and replacement bats to his teammates.

The highlight came on Saturday when he spent about half-an-hour fielding, even getting his hands on the ball once.

‘‘I was hoping they wouldn’t hit it too hard at me — the West Indies players can hit a hard ball.’’

As well as being a member of the national U19 squad, the Wakatipu High School Year 12 student is in the Otago U19 training squad, and this coming Tuesday will find out if he’s made the cut for the team going to the national tournament.

It’s been a sudden ascent to rep cricket for the 196cm-tall Toby, who was  only named in his first rep team, Otago U17s, in January.