Back To The Future: Former Central Stags Captain To Coach Cd Under 19
Excitement is brewing for the first national age-group cricket of the season, the NZC Gillette Under 19 men’s tournament that begins on Saturday in Lincoln, Canterbury.
It’s the same place Kieran Noema-Barnett played his own Under-19 cricket back in the early 2000s, when the former Central Stags captain was a young Otago age-group allrounder from Dunedin, looking to make strides in his career.
He’d go on to be picked for the 2006 New Zealand Under-19 World Cup team, heading off on the plane to Sri Lanka with teammates that included Tim Southee, Colin Munro and Martin Guptill.
When he returned, he got picked for the senior Otago side for the first time and went on to a long and successful career with the Stags, also representing Gloucestershire in County cricket.
Under-19 rep cricket is an experience you never forget says Noema-Barnett who, for the first time, will give back as Head Coach of the Central Districts Under 19 team named for the nationals.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to test yourself against the best cricketers in the age group from around the country,” Noema-Barnett says.
“There’s a chance to be recognised nationally which is always nice.
“A couple of good performances at the tournament can also build a young player’s confidence moving forward, and be the catalyst for their game to continue to improve.”
Noema-Barnett joined the Stags in 2008/09, playing until 2020/21. It was the start of a wonderful career that saw him lift the Plunket Shield, and smoke a New Zealand record T20 half ton off just 14 balls, among 89 T20s, 72 one-dayers and 47 first-class games for the team.
There’s not much in the game that he didn’t get to experience. Now he’s keen to pass that knowledge on.
“I reached out to the Central Districts Association in regards to helping coach some younger players, and those not in the professional environment locally, which I've enjoyed. Then an opportunity to take this side became available, and I was keen to be involved.
“So, I'm really excited to coach the CD Under-19 side, and create an environment that allows the players to enjoy their cricket and time together.”
Taranaki men’s Head Coach Chris Coombe — who represented Namibia Under 19 in the 2012 ICC Men’s Under 19 World Cup — will be Noema-Barnett’s Assistant Coach for the tournament with the squad this year bringing together players from Nelson, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, Whanganui, Wairarapa and Manawatū and captained by George Mowat, who captains the Lindisfarne College First XI in Hastings.
“They’ll be plenty of learning — and hopefully I can play a role in accelerating that for the group,” says Noema-Barnett.
“I won't be putting a lot of pressure on them, but placing an emphasis on doing the basics well.”
Noema-Barnett’s counterpart leading the CD Women’s Under 19 squad will be Central Hinds representative Kerry Tomlinson.
Tomlinson combines her own active playing career with mentoring the next generation as she develops her skills and resumé as a leading female coach.
In September, she was appointed as Head Coach of the Samoa Women’s team at the ICC East Asia Pacific T20 World Cup Qualifier in Vanuatu, as an NZC coaching Pathway to Performance graduate. She went on to serve as Assistant Coach as well as playing when CD Māori Wāhine won the inaugural NZC Wāhine Māori nationals in October.
Tomlinson has been involved with CD’s Under 19 programme in recent years, and was the team’s Assistant Coach when CD won the title two years ago. It was an exciting season for Central Districts with both the men’s and women’s teams winning the national trophies - the first time CD had done the double.
CD has a strong record at national age-group level, overcoming the obstacles of geography in an Association spread across two islands and twin coasts. Squads come together for the tournament, but don’t have the luxury of training in academy-style set-ups or regular squad trainings like some of the city-based teams they will face.
“The beauty of playing for CD is that we need to really come together, which everyone understands,” says Noema-Barnett.
“The focus is always on playing a team-first brand of cricket, which is something that is authentic to our regions. The Association has a rich history of producing talented players, and that always helps as well.”
Tomlinson agrees. “We do have a very strong record over the past few years in age-group tournaments and I guess it goes to show that even though we don’t have a centralised programme, we make sure we connect and get into our work when we’re at Lincoln, and do that very well.
“We’ve been able to put a strong team together, and I’m really excited to be involved again this season.”
The NZC Gillette Venus women’s Under 19 nationals are also in Lincolnl, in the second week of January. Tomlinson says it’s given her a real buzz to see CD Under 19 players coming through to the Hinds level, and it’s always exciting to see young players of the future taking their opportunities in their Under 19 games.
“I’m playing now for the Hinds alongside Flora Devonshire, Ocean Bartlett, Emma McLeod, Ashtuti Kumar — all young ones that I’ve coached over the years at age-group level, and that’s really cool.
“I got my Level One Coaching Certificate way back when I was 16, I used to coach Milo Cricket in Gisborne. Then when I was coaching the Northern Districts Under 15s girls, I remember Rosemary Mair playing against us in CD Under 15s.
“Now we’re watching ‘Rocco' play for the Hinds and WHITE FERNS, all those steps along the pathway towards the top level.”
The coaching pathway can also open more doors for Tomlinson, who’s been playing Domestic Cricket since 2005/06 and also gained four ODI international caps for The Netherlands.
“The NZC Pathway to Performance programme has been really good in terms of my coaching progression,” she says. “It’s been a really cool initiative from NZC and [NZC Head of Female Engagement] Jess Davidson, and will be going forward for future coaches, as well.
“It helps us build up our female coaching network, and share ideas among each other and just stay involved in the game.”
Tomlinson will be assisted by Taranaki’s emerging coach Amy Foreman for the NZC Gillette Venus Under 19 Nationals that will take place over the week starting from 6 January, while the men’s one-day Gillette U19 Nationals will open this Saturday and conclude on 9 December with finals day.
2023/24 NZC UNDER 19 NATIONAL TOURNAMENT DATES
At NZC High Performance Centre, Lincoln, Canterbury
• NZC Gillette Men’s Under 19 Tournament
2-9 December 2023
• NZC Gillette Venus Women's Under 19 Tournament*
6-12 January 2024
2023/24 Central Districts Men’s Under 19 squad
George Mowat • captain, wicketkeeper, Hawke's Bay
Ethan Campbell • Manawatū
Jett Donald-Charnley • Manawatū
Josh Gard • Taranaki
Charlie Geange • Hawke's Bay
Angus Jaspers • Wairarapa
William Jull • Taranaki
Oscar Mabin • Whanganui
Jaiden Meyer • Manawatū
Ben Neale • Nelson
Samuel Payne • Wairarapa
Jerome Robinson • Manawatū
Matthew Rowe • Manawatū
James Church • Wairarapa
Charlie Pawson • Hawke's Bay
Van Prenter • Manawatū
Finn Reid • Hawke's Bay
Unavailable for selection
Koji Hardgrave-Abe • Hawke's Bay
Head Coach: Kieran Noema-Barnett
Assistant Coach: Chris Coombe
*Central Districts Under 19 Women: squad will be announced in December.