Hore making up for lost time
When Andrew Hore opened the Dunedin club season with a century on Saturday he was making a statement of intent about his cricket plans this season.
It was a powerful statement.
His University-Grange side was chasing 140 to beat Northeast Valley in their limited overs season opener.
Hore took the game by the throat and blasted his was to 107 not out as victory came in little over 20 overs of hurricane-like batting. He hit four sixes and 15 fours in his innings.
The taste he had of the first-class scene whetted his appetite for a more productive year this time around.
And, in an obvious reflection of player movement around associations in New Zealand at the moment, he said: "We've got to have someone in the team from around here."
In a way, the solid top-order batsman is making up for lost time.
At age 19 he looked assured of a bright future in the game. He was named in a national youth tournament side and had clear promise.
But a bad car accident blew his confidence away and it was five years before he got the enthusiasm back for the game.
That period is vital to the development of any player and for much of the remainder of his career, Hore has been playing catch-up.
Before last season his appearances for Otago were spasmodic.
And while he didn't set the Taieri River on fire last summer, he did get a full season to appreciate what his role required.
There were signs that he, as a mature head in a young side, had a role to play, and it is one he is keen to pursue this year.
He finished the season with seven first-class games to his name and an average of 20.54. Included among his runs was a maiden century of 102 scored against Canterbury at the Village Green in Christchurch. Among the 259 runs he scored in Shell Cup was a 73 against Central Districts in Oamaru during an opening stand of 120 with Chris Gaffaney.
The Oamaru connection was significant. Hore had his secondary schooling at Waitaki Boys' High School, which is in Oamaru, and he was one of four old boys from the school in last year's Otago side. Warren McSkimming, Neil Rushton and David Sewell were the others.
"I'm hoping to play the whole season again. And I'm hoping to do a little more with the ball," he said.
A medium-pacer, he is keen to be able to bowl four or five overs if required in Cup matches.
"I'm hitting it pretty well," was his description of Saturday's innings.
The encouraging thing was that his century was on the top of only basic winter preparation. Hore spent the winter attempting to finish the education degree he has been working towards for 10 years.
Central to his regaining his drive in cricket was a season he had in England in 1995.
"I got my confidence back over there, it definitely helped. Then going to Holland last year helped as well," he said.
Originally, he thought he would only be playing Max and Shell Cup cricket as an opener and got "a bit of a surprise" when he was included in the Trophy side as an opener.
"I don't think Glenn [Turner - convenor of selectors] was quite sure where I should bat. But he dropped Chris Gaffaney down the order and it seemed to work out for both of us," Hore said.
Otago has made it plain that it intends going places this summer. It has brought in former New Zealand captain Lee Germon for the one-day programme while former Canterbury and Conference coach Denis Aberhart is coaching the side.
"Denis is really good. He has shown he has really got his finger on the pulse and wants to get the arrowhead going. It is pretty important that we work as a team, especially when we are in the field together so long.
"He doesn't take any rubbish and he got into things straight away.
"I'm really excited about the way things are going. It is a lot better.
"And it is about time. I'm particularly motivated to get in and do it for Otago. There are other things I could be doing with my life but I want to make up for the time I have lost," he said.
If Hore is representative of a new attitude in Otago then some interesting times lie ahead.