HIBS impress ahead of regional tournament Gillette Cup

An impressive dress rehearsal suggests that Hutt International might be centre stage in the regional Gillette Cup tournament next week.

HIBS, who won both the premier one final and the Gillette tournament last year, made a slow start to 2015, losing two of their first three matches in the premier grade.

They lost to St Pat’s Town by five wickets in the opening round and could manage only 162 when chasing 202 against Wellington College a fortnight later.

But HIBS have been dominant in their four completed matches since.

They have topped 200 in their past three innings, including 293 against Scots and reached 214-7 from just 40 overs when reversing the first round result against Town last weekend.

The HIBS top order batted positively against a Town attack that had conditions to suit and had previously been been able to contain all their opponents. HIBS skipper Troy Johnson set the tone with 71 from 66 balls and opener Ben Sears made 59.

Town were left with a tough task to maintain their unbeaten record in the competition and were always struggling to maintain the required run rate.

Johnson also did his bit with the ball for HIBS, with 3-19 from eight overs and left-arm spinner Matt McComb conceded just 22 runs from his eight overs as Town were all out for 154.

HIBS look to be in the tougher of the two pools next week and will have to overcome Onslow and Wellington College to reach the local final but have represented Wellington at the national Gillette tournament in three of the past five years.

They have an imposing trio – Sears, Rachin Ravindra and Johnson – at the top of their batting order.

Johnson, a member of the national under-19 squad, and Sears have been the leading run-scorers in premier one and Johnson’s last four innings in the grade have been 71, 48, 90 and 131.

“I think we are building quite nicely and starting to hit our straps,” HIBS coach Mark Borthwick said. “We played poorly early in our early games but have been working hard at practice and it’s starting to come together now.

“The boys really did bat well last weekend. The ball seamed around a bit and Town bowled quite well. It was more good batting than bad bowling and Troy dismantled their attack quite nicely.

“But I think there will be some very even matches next week and it will be about who performs on the day.

“We need to keep doing the things we do well and make sure we perform against Wellington College in the opening match.

“It won’t be an easy pool but the formula is always the same – win all your matches and you win the tournament.

“Our top three [batsmen] have to make sure they get in and set a platform. We have others who hit the ball well but are not as capable of building an innings.”

Sears, who usually opens the bowling, as well at the batting, has been nursing a knee injury and did not bowl against Town, but Borthwick has been impressed by Tyler Simpson’s development. “His figures don’t reflect how well he has bowled. So many batsmen have been playing and missing.”

The pool matches at the Gillette tournament will be played at the Petone Rec, with the final at the Basin Reserve on Monday week.

The key matches in pool play are likely to be on the final day when Onslow, who share top spot in premier one with Town, meet HIBS in Pool B and Town and Silverstream clash in Pool A.

Onslow, who lost to HIBS in the Gillette final last year, showed that they are learning to win tight matches when beating Hutt Valley in a low scoring match last weekend.

Chris Leitch, who has had a big season, anchored the Onslow innings with 58 and was the only batsmen from either side to top 30.

Raveen Dias scored his first premier one century when making 101 for Scots against Silverstream. Dias came in when Scots were 6-2 and scored more than half his side’s runs.

It was not enough to secure a win, with Silverstream reaching 200 in the 31st over, with Callum McLachlan reaching 96.

AT A GLANCE

  • Gillette Cup
  • March 23, 25
  • Petone Rec Centre
  • Pool A: St Pat’s town, St Pat’s Silverstream, Hutt Valley, Tawa
  • Pool B: Onslow, HIBS, Wellington College, Scots
  • Final: Monday, March 30, Basin Resere