The Queenstown senior cricket side’s international import this season is from one of the sport’s smallest and most remote outposts.
Medium-fast bowler Paul Connolly, 25, represents the Channel Island of Jersey, just off the coast of France, but is having the time of his cricketing life in Queenstown.
“One of my mates came here on holiday and he said it’s probably one of the best places he’s ever been, so I got in contact [with the Queenstown Cricket Club].”
Connolly’s played for Jersey since he was about 18.
His best figures are a five-wicket bag, including a hat-trick, against Netherlands A.
A highlight for him was Jersey’s upset win against Hong Kong in a qualifying tournament in Ireland last year for the World Twenty/20 contest in India this March.
Jersey, population 100,000, is in division five of the World Cricket League, whereas Hong Kong’s a top-six associate nation.
Despite also beating Nepal, Jersey didn’t qualify for India, but Hong Kong did.
“We were a bit gutted we didn’t go through in the end.”
Connolly, who’s playing for Queenstown’s top Ballarat side in the Central Otago competition, says the standard of local club cricket is higher than in Jersey.
“I’m surprised how committed people are here.”
Connolly, who’s also playing for the chart-topping Boydtown Chargers in the Mountain Scene Twenty/20 cricket league, says he’s struggling to take more than two wickets an innings - “the pitches are quite flat, I was expecting a bit more out of them”.
He says he’d love to come back next season.
“I’m just going to see what my options are and weigh them up.”
Ballarat captain Brett Anderson says their Jersey import is a great addition to the team.
“A fit young player, he is very good in the field, which is especially handy when the core of the team is carrying injuries, weight issues and alcohol problems.”