Sunday, May 26, 2024

Grobbelaar recognised as club legend

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Donovan Grobbelaar, left, and current premier captain David Winn coming off Cornwall Park after a successful chase of more than 200 to win a T20 match.
  • By Jim Allnatt

Donovan Grobbelaar is the 13th player named a Playing Legend of Howick Pakuranga Cricket Club.

This honour is only given to very special players and is the players’ version of life membership.

Grobbelaar is very quietly spoken, modest, well-respected and popular with his team mates. So how did this 23-year-old South African immigrant forge such a fantastic playing career.

Grobbelaar suffered a stress fracture in his back, so typical of young fast bowlers while playing provincial cricket for his province in South Africa shortly before emigrating.

He came to a job working as a manager at Formosa Golf Course. Grobbelaar met a number of Howick Pakuranga Cricket Club players and was invited to join the club.

He intended to play social cricket as he wasn’t looking to play serious cricket again.

Grobbelaar went to try out at Macleans College and found it was a trial for the premier side.

He did enough to be invited to join the squad and established himself as an all-rounder over the next few seasons.

He joined the club as a left arm spinner but after showing what he could do as a quick, he took up that role on a regular basis.

Over the 14 seasons Grobbelaar played for Howick Pakuranga, he proved to be a regular match winner with an outstanding performance in any one of the three disciplines.

Grobbelaar, at the time the photo above was taken, had just scored an unbeaten 63 off about 30 balls and David Winn had also scored an undefeated half century. Their partnership yielded well over 100 runs.

His statistics are outstanding by anyone’s standards. Between 2007 and 2021 Grobbelaar played in 190 matches for Howick Pakuranga Premiers, scoring 3997 runs with one century and 15 50s included in that total. He also took 373 wickets at an average of 17.73 and took 67 catches.

It’s fair to say that a large number of opposing club batsmen were very pleased to see Grobbelaar retire.

It was six seasons before Auckland Cricket realised just how good a player Grobbelaar was. He was selected for Auckland in 2012 and was a team regular until 2019 when he retired.

During those seven years, Grobbelaar played for the Aces in all three competitions. He was first selected to play in the Ford Trophy and Super Smash sides and graduated to the Plunket Shield the following season.

Grobbelaar’s Auckland career statistics are just as impressive as those for his club even though the level was higher.

In 139 matches he scored 2535 runs, an average of 24.6 and took 158 wickets at 32.64. He also scored one century, ten 50s and took 10 catches.

Grobbelaar is a club player who is intensely loyal to Howick Pakuranga and two of his children are now playing for the club.

His own words sum up his feelings: “From when I first landed in New Zealand, Howick was my first home in terms of sports clubs which came by chance meeting someone from the club.

“Ever since, I’ve never looked back as Howick holds a special place in my heart as it became my home away from home.

“I was made to feel welcome and I enjoy the people who are involved in the club. It a real community club but you know you are representing Howick.

“I am very proud to say that I played for Howick Pakuranga because of the number of Aces and Black Caps it’s turned out.

“It’s a huge honour to be considered as a legend. I never thought it was on the cards and it’s something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

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