A home tournament next week presents a great opportunity for Wakatipu High’s top cricketers to kickstart their year.
The school’s one of eight playing in the third annual Queenstown Schools Cricket Carnival.
An Aussie rep team from the Orange District Cricket Association is the sole overseas side – it plays every second year in a reciprocal arrangement with Wakatipu High.
A Canterbury school, St Bede’s College, is playing for the first time.
Dunedin sides Otago Boys’ High and John McGlashan College are back along with Invercargill’s Southland Boys’ High, which won last year, and Southland Combined Schools, who were runners-up.
Also returning is an Otago Country side who’ll include about five Wakatipu High school leavers.
Carnival organiser, Queenstown lawyer Russell Ma-whinney, says he got the idea for the tournament when the school competed in the Western New South Wales Cricket Carnival in 2016.
“We were just losing players ‘cos there was nothing to go to – we didn’t have the numbers.
“Whereas now everyone has to train ‘cos they might not get picked if they don’t.
“It’s good to have good hard cricket in our home patch, which is going to help our players develop.”
Mawhinney says after Wakatipu High didn’t perform brilliantly in the first two carnivals, “this year will hopefully be the year where we play to our potential”.
Boding well is that the team finished third in the season-opening McCullum Cup played by schools around Otago and Southland.
The nucleus of the team – players like Angus Herron, Quinn McDonald, Tony Anstiss, Reece Collin and Mawhinney’s son Seth – have been together a while, but there are also “some good new kids coming through”, Mawhinney says.
Next week’s carnival, played on three Events Centre pitches and the Jack’s Point wicket, comprises 110-over declaration matches on Monday, Wed-nesday and Thursday, and T20 matches on Tuesday.
“We have a long-term goal to grow the carnival into a truly international cricket event.
“For Carnival 2020 we already have an entry from a team from Australia [from Bathurst] who have not been here before, plus strong interest from teams elsewhere in Australia, India and the North Island.”
Apart from stunning cricket grounds, Mawhinney says another unique feature he doubts any other New Zealand tournament could match is the quality of player-of-the-day awards and spot prizes – tourism attractions like bungy jumping, rafting and jetboating.