South Canterbury cricket player-coach Nick Horsley feels the season has been a success despite mixed results on the field.
The side finished second on 25 points behind North Otago in the Southern Zone of the Hawke Cup with an outright win, a first-innings win, and a loss.
One fixture was also rained-off.
A couple of goals were set by the squad at the start of the season and Horsley felt they had achieved them.
“I definitely feel we ticked off what we were trying to achieve with the side.”
A major focus was preparing mentally and be able to dominate certain parts of the match, he said.
“Everyone did step up in this area which is great. We had batsmen valuing their wickets more and working a lot harder.
“We felt if we toughened them up mentally, they could perform better at a higher level.”
Horsley said creating depth was something they had also achieved.
“We now have 15-16 players who we can call on that would happily step up to representative level and do the job we’ve asked.
“It has also created more competition among the squad itself and everyone is working harder.”
The second innings run chase and fight shown by the team against Mid Canterbury and a spurring speech by captain Sam Carlaw are two events which really stood out for Horsley.
“To come back and win a game that we were well an truly getting beaten in is a great effort.
“Sam’s effort to spur the boys on and deliver a speech to the bowlers Stan [Mair] Hinto [Craig Hinton] and Jack [Harper] was great because Stan stood up and took those wickets we needed.”
He said the best individual efforts of the season came from the bat of Harper and hand of Mair.
“Jack did really well to score his hundred, it was a great innings when we needed it and Stan bowled really really well down in Invercargill picking up eight wickets on that pitch. He showed he is going to be a real coup for South Canterbury in the coming years.”
Like anything there were a couple of things Horsley felt let the side down.
“We were a bit light on runs in the first innings across the season and against North Otago we just couldn’t capitalise when we were in a good position.”
He said it was great seeing certain players improve from the beginning of the season.
“Jack, Adam [Beck], Stanley, Drakey [Glen Drake] they have all come a long way this season.”
Another person who had come on leaps and bounds was Alex McDuff.
“He has done really well. I’m really happy with where he’s heading. The father and son connection between Alex and Craig is working because Hinto is helping him improve. Alex will go very close to being a regular in the side next season.”
Finding someone to support Adam Beck will remain a focus for next season.
“I’ve really enjoyed seeing Adam open this season I think he’s done a really good job of it.”
“If James [Laming] is available then he is certainly someone we’d look to reinstate up the top because we enjoy that right hand left hand combination but at the same time we have not ruled out asking Jacques [Marais] if he’d like to give it a good go next season and do it at club level as he has a good technique and strong temperament.”
“If we can solidify that top three then we would go a long way to securing a challenge because getting good starts is crucial.”
He said keeping the nucleus of the squad together will be a focus for next year.
“Hopefully we will get together in winter sometime and begin training towards next season,” he said.
He said there is good depth around the region.
“Bowling wise for next year we will still have Alex [McDuff], Hinto, Stan, Sam, Drakey, Jacques, Jack, [Grant Watt] Watty so that’s plenty and then there’s Tom Pavletich and Blair Brown if they keep performing, while with the bat we have a strong lineup in Drakey, Sam, Arthur [Prabodha Arthavidu], Jack and Willie [Wright],” he said.
The 35-year-old has loved his time as a player-coach but said it’s looking unlikely he will return next season.
“It’s a 60-40 chance I won’t return to coaching or playing but if that is the case then I’d love to be a selector. Also my boys are playing now and I’d quite like to watch them.”
“I am disappointed with my performance this season. I haven’t contributed like I wanted too.”
He is confident the side has what it takes to earn a Hawke Challenge in 2017.
“It’d be nice if it was North Otago with it but we have to wait and see.”
At a glance – All South Canterbury games
Prabodha Arthavidu 378 at 47.25
Jack Harper 231 at 46.25
Adam Beck 230 runs at 28.75
Glen Drake 199 runs at 24.86
Nick Horsley 182 runs at 26
Stan Mair 18 wickets at 11
Craig Hinton 12 wickets at 24.1
Jack Harper 8 wickets at 25.88
Sam Carlaw 8 wickets at 26.62