For two young English cricketers, their stay in South Canterbury went to script. Chris Esh and Matthew Barnes arrived in the country in October to help bolster a Geraldine side struggling for numbers and left yesterday with a championship under their belts.
On Sunday, Geraldine beat Star on the first innings to secure their first Tweedy Cup two-day triumph in nine years.
Batsman Barnes made a tidy 53 in the run chase and ran out one of the openers, while Esh took one wicket from his 24 overs.
Their contribution in getting Geraldine to the final was, however, far bigger.
Off-spinner Esh took 18 wickets, including a hat-trick in the two previous games, almost single-handedly ensuring his side made the final.
Barnes, who was appointed captain, was the top run scorer in senior cricket, scoring two 100s and three 50s along the way.
The talented batsman, however, chose not to play representative cricket, so had more opportunities than Celtic’s prolific Dan Laming. Barnes was happy with his time.
“If you said when I arrived I’d score 614 runs and have a club championship, I’d be delighted.
“It’s not an individual game and everyone has to play their part, which Pags [Stephen Pagan], Ben [Millar] and Drens [Hamish Drennan] did.”
Esh said he wished he wasn’t heading home.
“I’d love to be staying and I’d obviously love to come back.
“I guess early on it didn’t go my way and I didn’t take enough wickets, but I was happy with the finish. It’s been a fantastic time.”
Esh said Phil Chapman the number 11 batsman who scored the winning runs through four leg byes would be a legend in Geraldine forever.
“I was wondering if it would go our way.”
For the 18-year-old, coming to New Zealand was his first time on a plane and he said it was a great experience.
“I love New Zealand.”
Both cricketers also wanted to thank the sponsors who made their trip possible and the two families who had looked after them in Geraldine.
Esh and Barnes return to Bedfordshire, where both want to continue with their cricket and hope to return next season.
The pair also worked for South Canterbury Cricket delivering the Milo and Kiwi cricket programmes to rural schools.
South Canterbury Cricket spokesperson Richard Davidson said the boys had contributed to Geraldine’s success.
“They were struggling for numbers, but in the end had to pick a team from 14 players.
“They also contributed well to rural schools, including Fairlie, Geraldine and Waimate.”