The unexpected rise of a country cricket team

BIG KNOCK: Henry Workman finished unbeaten on 75 to help Cheviot to a seven wicket win over Temuka on Sunday.

Two years ago Cheviot struggled to put together a team in the second tier of country cricket. Now they’re a win away from representing Canterbury at the national club championships.

After gaining promotion to the Canterbury country premier competition in 2017, they went on to win the one-day competition last year.

On Sunday they defeated South Canterbury champs Temuka and will now face Christchurch metro winners St Albans for a spot in the national week-long tournament in Auckland in April.

Cheviot’s rise to prominence has come about due to a combination of former junior players returning to the club after high schools such as captain Harry Fitzpatrick, who has represented Canterbury at under-19 level.

They have also been aided by some smart recruiting from Sidey brothers, Henry and Charlie, who convinced a number of their former Christchurch Boys’ High
School teammates to join them at their boyhood club following school. A large chunk of Cheviot’s team is now made up of players who were part of CBHS’s back-to-back Gillette Cup-winning teams of 2016 and 2017.

“Boys’ High finished their season and then my cousins grabbed Ben Hartland and Jack Harris to come and play for us. A few of us older boys were keen to let the young guys take over, so they brought more of them out,” said club vice-president Sam Sidey.

The latest CBHS product to make the move to Cheviot is promising rugby and cricket star Louie Chapman, who is set to debut for the team at the weekend.

The connection to CBHS doesn’t end there. The school’s coach Mark Lane has also recently started working with the premier team.

“I think it’s all about playing with your mates . . . they have a bloody good time off the field and I think that makes its way onto the field,” said Sidey.

Cheviot have made a major transition from three years ago when lettuce-pickers and other seasonal workers in the area, with little cricket experience, would often help make up numbers.

“The standard of cricket in the Canterbury country competition has improved immensely over the last couple of years . . . you go back three or four years ago and you would never hear of these young guns like Ben Hartland or Louie Chapman thinking about coming out to play in the country,” said Sidey.

Cheviot will go into the final next Sunday as considerable underdogs against a classy St Albans outfit.

St Albans created history last month by becoming the first team to win 10 premier one-day Christchurch metro titles. Cheviot are currently third in the Canterbury country one-day competition with three wins and two losses.

“As a group, we’re quietly confident but we’re going to take the underdog tag into the game,” said Sidey.