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They are the new kids on the block, and my word have they charged in through the gates and taken North Shore by storm. Angus McKenzie’s (Gus) Belmont Intermediate year eight side, having cruised through the regular four games of the season, vanquished the challenges of the playoffs and now stand atop as Auckland Champions.
Having the calm head of Bruce Warner to guide them through the whole process, and Gus’s all-star ability to lead the way forward Belmont have been spectacular in a tournament that is unrelenting when it comes to playing under the pump due to its knock out format. They took care of Rosmini first to win the North Harbour title and entered the quarter final bout against Blockhouse Bay. Brushing aside that challenge they came face to face with Balmoral in the Auckland semis and it was onwards and upwards from there beating Kings to be crowned Auckland Champions.
Gus who struggled a bit at the start has shifted gears as the tournament has progressed to the harder stages and hit cruise control with an innings of 63 against Rosmini, 76 against Blockhouse Bay and a cool and calm 38 not out in the Auckland Final. The thirteen year old whose idols are none other than Sachin Tendulkar and Adam Gilchrist attributes unity in the side to the success. “It’s our team spirit that has got us through, we play like a team especially when we are out in the field, we gel together well and keep talking and supporting each other.”
The game against Balmoral is a case in point. Gus’s side was up against it when the opposition needed just 20 more to win chasing a paltry hundred. They had seven wickets in hand and things seemed done and dusted for Belmont Intermediate; then a wicket fell and they snatched victory out of the deeply clenched jaws of defeat. “We kept on geeing each other up, wickets started to fall in a heap Jacksey bowled an excellent second last over for just four runs and I finished it off with just six in the last…..we ended up winning by five runs!”.
Mitchell, Ashton, James, Toby and Gus serve Belmont Intermediate well in the batting department. While they are in the safe hands of Toby, Jack Collinson, Ashton, Turley, Guss and Gray when it comes to bowling. A team comprised mostly of all-rounders has given the Coach Bruce Warner a lot to cheer about and it is no wonder that the team really respects all the effort he and the parents have put in behind their success.
Most of the Belmont kids love playing at North Shore and want to come back and take up the senior roles after high school. It won’t be too far fetched to think that Gus would one day in the not so distant future be able to come back and make his dream come true of captaining the North Shore outfit given his aptitude for the job during this run.
They take on the mighty Tauranga Intermediate today for the Northern Districts title and this fairy tale might still have a few more lines to it, but no matter what the result there turns out to be, Belmont Intermediate have given their parents and North Shore Cricket Club something to be extremely proud about.