Last week St Paul’s Collegiate School hosted the Vettori Shield on the school campus, seeing schools from all over New Zealand compete in the prestigious tournament.
On the opening day of the Vettori Shield, St Paul’s took on Mount Albert Grammar School. Mount Albert’s top-order batsmen made the St Paul’s bowlers work hard for their wickets, building steady partnerships throughout the innings. Finn Bell (2/28) and Louie Austin (2/32) were the most successful of the bowlers, with Finn also picking up a run out from a direct hit. Mount Albert finished with a solid 220/8 off 50 overs. In response, St Paul’s got off to a flying start with openers Archie Joll and Lucas Hale putting on 50 in the first 10 overs. Wickets then fell regularly as captain Jay Benefield (39) attempted to hold the innings together. Some late-order hitting from Finn Bell (37) gave St Paul’s hope, but eventually, the final wicket fell with the score at 177.
Day two saw St Paul’s play Hutt International Boys School. Batting first, the innings followed a similar trend to the previous day. Regular wickets followed a brisk opening partnership as the St Paul’s batsmen struggled to convert promising starts into big scores. Campbell Boyd (46) batted maturely to hold the innings together and finished as the top scorer. St Paul’s finished with 173 all out after 44.4 overs, leaving 5.2 overs unused. Hutt International approached their run chase with positive intent putting St Paul’s bowling attack under pressure. Jackson Hay stepped up with a gutsy bowling performance picking up 2/46 off his 10 overs against a quality batting lineup. Wicketkeeper Liam Joll put in an excellent performance with the gloves, involved in three of the four dismissals in the innings. Ultimately, the classy Hutt International batting lineup chased St Paul’s total down with six wickets in hand. The final day of pool play meant a matchup with top of the table Otago Boys' High School. Batting first, Sanvir Harike (29) batted fluently to give St Paul’s a promising start before rain-delayed play. Upon resumption AJ Lake (46) and Campbell Boyd (38) compiled an excellent 87-run partnership, setting the platform for a 200-plus total. However, a middle-lower order collapse saw St Paul’s eventually bowled out for 185, a competitive total. Two early runouts set the tone for an outstanding bowling and fielding performance from St Paul’s. All of the bowlers applied pressure through their accuracy and were well supported by an exceptional fielding display. Finn Bell (4/17) continued his wicket-taking form, while Campbell Soanes (2/10) bowled accurately and captained the side thoughtfully. Eventual finalists, Otago Boys' High School bowled out for just 89, an impressive win for St Paul’s.
The last day of the tournament saw St Paul’s up against Christ’s College. St Paul’s batted first again, with steady contributions made throughout the innings. The highlight was a 76-run partnership between Lachie Young (48 off 53) and Leyton Birch (72 off 52). Both boys batted with positive intent, striking the ball cleanly to help St Paul’s reach 261 all out. With nothing to lose, the Christ’s College batsmen started their innings aggressively, reaching 60 within the first nine overs. St Paul’s pulled the scoring rate back through some tidy bowling from Louie Austin (2/42) and Leyton Birch (2/34), an excellent all-round performance from Leyton. Christ’s College batsmen continued to bat positively, setting up a tense finish. In the end, Christ’s College held their nerve, chasing down the 262 required with two wickets and two overs to spare. A great game of cricket to end the week.
Overall, an excellent week for the St Paul’s Colts XI Cricket team. Comfortably the youngest side in the tournament, the boys competed well against some top young players from across the country. Most importantly, the team played with great spirit and love of the game. This bodes well for a successful year in 2023. Thank you to Michael Rameka for his organisation of the tournament, Josh Hay for managing the team, Indi Senarathne and Kieran Taylor for coaching, and the parents for their tireless support.