February 17, 2003

Family atmosphere a vital part of ND success

Bruce Blair

Northern Districts had a very successful State Shield campaign although the final outcome may have appeared a little against the odds.

To do well in any season a team needs to have good management, quality individual performances and a little bit of luck. Certainly ND experienced each of these components along the way to winning the State Shield.

The quality of the competition in the State Shield this season was evident by the narrow point range that separated the top and bottom sides all the way through. All teams should be congratulated on the evenness of the competition.

In our 10 round-robin games we beat and lost to each of the other teams.

Owing to the fact that recently ND have contributed a number of players into the Telstra Clear Black Caps, it is obvious that for the Knights to perform well they have to get the best from those players who might have limited opportunities.

This presented a number of interesting challenges.

At the start of the State Shield the expanded squad of 16 met and highlighted the importance of each player setting the highest standards of personal performance and remaining focused to the task and ready to perform to their best on call was highlighted.

The wider squad was involved at every opportunity in ND's preparation and this produced a solid benefit in terms of continuity and seamlessness in times when there was a frequent transition of players in and out during the campaign.

A number of people lend considerable support to the Knights and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them:

  • Robbie Hart on the high quality of his leadership (tactically and in keeping the group on task and tight).

  • The players for their understanding, commitment and effort (every player made a significant contribution to our win) and that is important.

  • Our management team of Shane Derry (manager and physiotherapist), Jason Wheadon (fitness manager) and Rosanna Stanimirovic (mental skills manager) - you all do a great job and the players and I enjoy your involvement and appreciate all your good work.

  • ND staff and Board members who understand and support our philosophy of development and are solidly behind the team.

  • The ground staff at Westpac Park for your tireless efforts during the summer.

  • We have great support (It's like a family at ND) and the players really appreciate it.

  • Our sponsor base for their ongoing involvement with ND which enables the players to work away at developing themselves with few distractions.

  • State for their sponsorship of domestic cricket in New Zealand.

We now turn our attention back to the State Championship where at round six of the competition we find ourselves mid-table. Again, there is not a huge spread between the top and bottom sides. A couple of wins could see the Knights challenging for top spot in the competition.