TE ANAU is proving a real force in Southland cricket after winning the PGG Wrightson Championship – Combined Country Division 1 2021-2022 campaign.
Team captain Greg Taylor said this season had been the best for player numbers he could remember. “We have been lucky that Covid-19 hasn’t affected our team or any of our games.
“This season was a real team performance, with different people stepping up each week. We had six of the top 11 run scorers in our competition, also four of the top 13 wicket takers.’’
The team also competed in the Southland 20/20 competition, winning the division.
‘‘It was a good effort considering we’d only ever won one 20/20 game in the previous seasons. We lost to Marist in the semi-finals by just a couple of runs. But showed we weren’t far away from the Premier teams,’’ he said.
Taylor has been playing in the team since Year 7 and has had a passion for the game since he was 5 years old, following his father Barry. He was one of the first under-19 Southland representatives selected from Te Anau in 2006, enabling him to play against an Australian Invitation team.
Te Anau Club president Johnathan Hodson said his role this year had been getting the kids’ teams up and running.
“The biggest change for our club this season was fielding a Year 5/6 and Year 7/8 teams in the Saturday competitions for the first time, as well as having a lot of new players come into our senior team that offered youth and experience.’’
Hodson is an ex-Southland team player, making his debut as a 17-year old during the 1999-2000 season. He played his 50th and last Hawke Cup fixture in 2015/2016 campaign.
Another important contributor to cricket in Te Anau is club life member Shayne Mercer, who first played for Te Anau in 1990.
He was instrumental in reviving the team to become a force to be reckoned with in the Northern-Southland competition. The 1993-1994 season was a memorable one with the club winning the Sandstone Cup, ending the season unbeaten in the 40-over competition.
The team also won the Lou Holland Shield, losing only one game to win the 45-over competition.
The early 1990s saw many Southland clubs fold, which was how the Combined Country Competition came into play including teams from throughout Southland and West Otago.
‘‘The success of our Te Anau club comes from the efforts of all players who turn up for practice and play on Saturday, those who organise the practices and games, look after the grounds, do the administration side and sponsor and support the club,’’ Mercer said.