Nelson has not held the Hawke Cup since 17 February 1997. Twenty-two years later — to the day, the district association will have a chance to update that stat after having earned the right to challenge current holders Southland.
Nelson dominated the Zone 3 qualifiying final at Blenheim’s Horton Park at the weekend with both bat and ball, 18-year-old paceman Thomas Zohrab claiming 5-25 — after Marlborough had elected to bat first, before the experience of 34-year-old stalwart Greg Hay shone through with an imposing innings of 180 at first drop in a mammoth Nelson total of 450.
Hay, the Central Stags’ Plunket Shield captain who has struck his richest vein of form over the past two seasons, shared a 164-run seventh wicket stand with young fellow first-class representative Felix Murray (92) as Nelson took any thoughts of control away from their neighbours in an all-CD Zone 3 final this year at the top of the South.
Meanwhile in Zone 4, Southland successfully defended the Hawke Cup in Invercargill against Mid-Canterbury, setting up a trip to the deep south for Nelson for the next challenge that will start at 10.30am on Friday 15 February.
One of New Zealand’s oldest cricket associations, Nelson has a mighty proud record in the historic Hawke Cup — the biggest prize in New Zealand provincial cricket.
Many of the competition’s all-time records are still held by Nelson players.
Former New Zealand Test representative Ian Leggatt, who played between 1948 and 1968, still holds the record for the most Hawke Cup career runs: 1,968 from 38 matches, and he also took 134 wickets to rank him third on the all-time bowling list.
He is closely followed by two teammates, former CD rep Laurie Reade in second spot with 1,951 from 35 matches and the late left-hander Graeme Lowans, also a former CD rep, in third with 1,811 runs from 30 matches.
The highest individual score in the competition’s history is meanwhile still the unbeaten 272 by Charlie — known better as Mick — Kinzett against Marlborough at Trafalgar Park in December 1933. Opening batsman and all-round Nelson sportsman Kinzett played only four Hawke Cup matches, between 1933 and 1936, but left a lasting impact. The late Wayne Hodgson’s 265 against Taranaki in 1983/84 is the third highest all-time knock — another former CD first-class player.
Those statistics are a strong clue to Nelson’s dominance with the bat back in those days on the old Trafalgar Park ground.
Having first lifted the Hawke Cup in 1922, Nelson still holds the record for the most consecutive defences — their epic 28-match streak from December 1958 to February 1965 way out in front. Then there was a 14-match tenure between February 1979 and February 1983. Current Nelson Cricket general manager David Leonard appears towards the end of the latter era, and finished with 1,483 Hawke Cup runs and 152 wickets from 68 matches between 1985 and 2005.
Over the decades, Nelson has successfully defended the trophy a total of 71 times and, when a Hawke Cup team of the century was named at the beginning of 2011 to mark the centenary of the competition, four Nelson players — Leggatt, Roger Pierce, Barry Hampton and Dave Spence — were all named in the XI.
Former New Zealand captain Bevan Congdon (21 matches at 50+ average) and current NZC match referee Richard Hayward (23 matches) are among others to have produced notable Hawke Cup careers for the team.
Nelson’s most recent Hawke Cup challenge was made by a youthful side against then-holders Bay of Plenty in February 2017, Bay of Plenty having retained the trophy on the first innings at Bay Oval.
HAWKE CUP CHALLENGE MATCH
Southland (holder) v Nelson (Zone 3 challenger)
Queen’s Park, Invercargill
10.30 a.m. February 15-17 2019
Livescoring at www.nzc.nz
Article added: Monday 04 February 2019