Young Cantwell gets dream opportunity
Nelson, New Zealand - Nick Cantwell was handed the ideal preparation this week as the young Southland cricketer eyes his biggest cricketing challenge which is the New Zealand under-19 provincial tournament starting at Lincoln on January 13.
Cantwell - along with his Metropolitan Cricket Club team-mate Jared Simpson - was asked to bowl to both the West Indies and New Zealand teams at their training sessions in Queenstown on New Year's Eve.
It was the perfect scenario for the Te Anau 18-year-old as he has tried to find ways to get in good training during the festive season in the leadup to playing for Otago in the national under-19 tournament.
The young quick said it was a great experience to test himself against international quality opposition and he got a major confidence boost when he was able to nick out New Zealand's Colin Munro and West Indies' Keiron Powell during the training sessions.
"It was interesting, the West Indies were pretty entertaining," he said. "It was perfect training really. It was good to have some good batsmen to bowl to, they punished you if you missed your length."
Cantwell said given both the New Zealand and West Indies teams were focused on their own training there wasn't too much feedback but they did offer some encouragement.
"They would tell you, 'well bowled' and stuff like that. [West Indies player] Darren Sammy was good like that."
The Otago University pupil has been regarded as somewhat of a bolter in this season's under-19 team by some, given he hasn't previously been part of the Otago age-group setups, but he has raw pace and has been picked by coach Mark Bracewell because of his ability to hurry up batsmen.
"He's told me he's picked me to bowl fast, he doesn't mind if I go for too many runs, he just wants me to take wickets."
Simpson, 17, was also delighted to get the unique experience to bowl to international quality opposition in Queenstown this week.
"It was just such a great opportunity to bowl against international players and to rub shoulders with the bigger boys and to find out how they train and warm-up," the Central Southland College pupil said.
"The West Indies' guys talked to us a wee bit more. Ottis Gibson, the bowling coach, set a field to bowl at and we told him where we were going to bowl. That was quite good."