September 20, 2000

Mather and Jonas could be lost to cricket

Stephen Mather and Glenn Jonas, two former Wellington players who spent their last two summers in Dunedin may be lost to cricket this summer.

Jonas, 30, is a definite non-starter in all but some club games. Mather, 27, is hopeful of at least attempting to win selection for Shell Cup play for Wellington.

Jonas admits to a high level of frustration over his experiences in Dunedin and is having a year out of the game.

Mather, who had his best season in the first-class scene last year scoring 288 runs at 48.0, has a job he enjoys and doesn't think he will have the time to be involved in a full-scale 10-round Shell Trophy programme.

Mather has returned to Wellington and would have been a key player in the Capital's hopes of resurrecting its playing fortunes. After several seasons struggling to make the most of his undoubted talents, Mather looked to be at a stage in his career where he could expect to have the rewards for his efforts.

"My job really satisfies me. Last season I finished the season disappointed with everything other than where my cricket was going.

"Now I'm exercising my mind in other ways and at this stage my job is more important," he said.

Mather said his time in Otago had seen some improvements in his play. Team selector and former international Glenn Turner had initially sorted out some problems with his backlift, especially Mather's trademark chopping action before striking the ball.

Mather developed other aspects of his play by working with Otago team-mates and finally figuring things out for himself.

"I ended up having the confidence to back my own judgement.

"I would like to play again but I finished last season broke again and wondering what I was going to do.

"Hopefully I'll be able to play some one-day cricket this year although nothing has been resolved with Cricket Wellington. I've been doing quite a bit of fitness training and will train with the Wellington squad on Thursday," he said.

Jonas is more definite.

"I might play the odd club match and if I'm interested next year we will see about playing," he said.

Jonas has developed an outstanding record on the local scene and although hardly used by Otago last year he still managed to take 19 Trophy wickets at 12.73 and his career statistics show he's taken 132 wickets at 22.90.

He played much of the Shell Cup campaign last while suffering pneumonia and got back into the Trophy side towards the end of the campaign.

However, he did get to enjoy Hawke Cup cricket again. Before heading to Dunedin three summers ago, he had been part of the Hutt Valley team, which won the Hawke Cup from Nelson.

"Dunedin Metropolitan had a team in it and they asked me to be captain. I have to say I think the decision that the Cup has gone back to minor associations is fair enough. I don't disagree with it at all for teams like the Auckland and Wellington sides but I think the Dunedin guys will miss it.

"But we turned up to challenge South Canterbury for it in Timaru with nine first-class players in the side and you could see the disappointment on their [South Canterbury's] faces. They tried hard to defend it but couldn't match us.

"I don't think the Dunedin guys really knew what the Cup meant. But as we played more and more defences and the first-class guys were called up to Shell Trophy younger players came in and they really appreciated it.

"They thrived on the level of competition it gave them and the defence aspect was rubbing off on a lot of players. A small city like Dunedin will struggle without Cup play because they don't really have that good a club cricket scene.

"Hopefully the return of the Provincial 'A' team competition will help the guys out," he said.

Jonas, who admitted he was an unlikely captain, said the experience had been quite bizarre. He said his field placings were not all that orthodox and often he would move a fielder, sometimes against the bowler's wishes, and a catch would go to the person he had moved.

"It was always attack as far as I was concerned and everything seemed to come off. I really enjoyed it," he said.

And when he did make it back into the Trophy squad he was able to make the most of his chance that he should have been back in the squad earlier.