For a second successive season, Jay King’s batting has taken the spotlight away from his bowling in the Gisborne and District Cricket Association’s McIntyre Cup grand final.
Last season, barely able to walk due to shin stress fractures, he made four vital, unbeaten runs to help Gisborne force a tie, which was enough for the Dragons to claim the premiership.
This year he produced his best score of the season, and an equal career-high of 51 not out, to help his side bat out its 120 overs and post a score of 9-307.
He then backed it up with his bowling, taking three wickets to help the Dragons secure back-to-back titles.
It was no surprise when the umpires named King the Gary Sanders Medal winner for best on ground.
To put King’s 51 into perspective, all that is needed is a look at his performances with the bat this season. Before the grand final, he had hit 29 runs in nine innings. In his past two innings, he had hit three not out, and before that he had three ducks in four games.
Despite his lean form with the bat, King was promoted one spot up the order by coach Simon Harman for the grand final.
Speaking after his man of the match performance, King said he didn’t know where his batting performance had come from.
“I think I doubled my season’s score – it was good to do it when it matters,” he said.
“I tried to concentrate and things went my way – once you get in it comes a lot easier.
“I had to try and knuckle down a bit and bat some time and take the sting out of it. It was good.”
King said there was a weird feeling once the Dragons got the final wicket to seal the win after last season’s dramatic ending.
“We knew it was going to happen – it was a matter of when,” he said. “It was a little different to the last one.”
King, who has played in two premierships in his two years at the club, after moving across from Rupertswood, said it was the closeness of the Dragons players that had propelled them to successive wins.
King finished the year with 39 wickets, putting him in the top 10 in the McIntyre Cup.
“I’ve never played in a side with 11 people who get on as much as we do,” he said.
“All 11 of us are at training Tuesdays and Thursdays and always together on a Saturday night.
“It’s the buy-in from everyone and the belief – no matter what we’re all in it for the right reasons.”