Cricket: Academy key to breakthrough success of John McGlashan

Practising slip catches with sports co-ordinator Michael MacKenzie (right) are John McGlashan...
Practising slip catches with sports co-ordinator Michael MacKenzie (right) are John McGlashan College cricketers (from left) Michael Rae (14), Chris Pearse-Smith (14), Ben Baker (14), Barry Schmidt (17) and Nick Pearse-Smith (17) at the McGlashan sports field yesterday. Photo by Linda Robertson.
When it comes to Otago secondary school cricket, it has been the likes of Otago Boys' High School, King's High School and even Kavanagh College which have dominated proceedings.

But there is a new player on the scene - John McGlashan College.

Better known for its academic achievements than its endeavours on the sports field, the college has emerged as a real force.

The school has just completed its best summer, with its year 9-10 team finishing sixth at the national age-group tournament and its First IX beating Southland Boys' High School in the southern regional final to clinch a berth in the finals of the Gillette Cup - New Zealand's premier secondary school tournament.

But the success has not simply been left to chance.

While the stars have aligned to a certain extent, with a group of talented boys gracing the corridors, the school, fed up with losing to the likes of OBHS, started a cricket academy in 2006.

The school's First XI manager Martin Jenkins was instrumental in helping kick-start the academy and sports co-ordinator Michael MacKenzie has continued the good work.

MacKenzie, a stalwart of the Taieri Cricket Club, is an avid fan of the game and his encouragement has undoubtedly helped.

And the school's chaplain, Roly Scott - former Otago seamer Bradley Scott's father - also takes a keen interest in the cricket programme.

But MacKenzie puts the breakthrough down to the cricket academy and the school's willingness to back the programme.

"The academy has been going for about three or four seasons now and what we do is we contract out to Otago Cricket," he explained.

"The kids get specialist coaching from the Otago Cricket staff under Mark Bracewell's guidance.

"That is starting to bear fruits now.

"We always knew it was going to take three or four years before we started to see some results."

"But until we start beating Otago Boys' and King's consistently, there is still a lot of work to do."

The First XI finished third in the Dunedin second grade competition but its best result came with a rare win against OBHS and of course the fabulous win against Southland Boys'.

"It is the first time in the school's history we've made the Gillette Cup.

"So it is a big coup for the school. The key now is competing once we get there."

Where and when the 2010 Gillette Cup finals will be staged is still to be determined, but the tournament has traditionally been held in Palmerston North in early December.

As for future stars, time will tell.

But year 10 pupil Michael Rae shapes as one of the best prospects.

He is a strapping fast bowler with a solid action.

Opening batsman Fergus Bevin-McCrimmon (year 11) and legspinner Hamish Cotter (year 9) are both showing promise.


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