Takapuna Cricket Club’s Elliott Herd was this month named Auckland Club Cricketer of the Year. That’s something we reckon we should shout about. As well as being a promising North Shore born-and-bred cricketer (he attended Pinehurst School, Northcross and Westlake Boys), 24 year old Elliott is also a popular team member at Benefitz, publisher of Channel – this fine magazine! The Auckland Club Cricketer of the Year Award is based on Player Statistics across the entire 2016/2017 season. The CricHQ statistics take into account batting, bowling and fielding, with MVP points awarded in each match to provide an overall rating. Elliott just pipped Roneel Hira from the Waitakere for the top award. His Takapuna ‘Pirates' team mates Daniel James and Will O’Donnell were also in the top 10 for the season. Elliott’s bowling average for the season was 17 (he took 67 wickets), his batting average was in the 20’s and he also took seven catches. Channel Mag's Aidan Bennett put these questions to Elliott in April just a few days after he received the award at the annual Auckland Cricket awards evening held at Eden Park.
AIDAN BENNETT: When did you first start playing Cricket?
ELLIOTT HERD: I started around the age of 10. My brother Nick and I used to play a bit of backyard cricket at our lifestyle block in Dairy Flat where we grew up. It had lots of space and things would get pretty competitive quickly, almost always ending in a bit of a scuffle. My Dad then enrolled us both in junior cricket at Pinehurst School and the passion has never stopped since then.
AB: You are obviously an all rounder. Do you see yourself as a bowler that bats, a batsman that bowls or a true all rounder?
EH: That’s a bit of a funny question for me, as I feel that it’s been ever changing. I would like to say a true all-rounder, however, when I first started playing competitive cricket I was an opening batsman who bowled a bit of part time off-spin. At present I would have to say that I am more of a bowler and now bat in the middle to lower order. I am really enjoying my current role as it has given me a bit of freedom to express myself, when you’re opening the batting your role is a bit different.
AB: You were part of a pretty good Westlake Boys group of cricketers that had some pretty good success as well?
EH: My time at Westlake Boys was a pretty special time for me. I was surrounded by a bunch of talented cricket players and made some life-long friends along the way. Westlake has a great program for cricket starting from year nine with their sports institute, which I was lucky enough to do for both Football and Cricket. During my time playing first eleven cricket we managed to win the Auckland Gillette Cup competition twice which meant we travelled to Palmerston North for Nationals. Unfortunately we never managed to win this whilst I was there, however, we always finished in the top three. This was a great tournament to be involved in as a youngster, as it was a first taste of both quality cricket and amazing facilities.
AB: When did you start playing senior cricket at Takapuna?
EH: I started playing senior cricket around the age of 16. It was a real eye opener for me personally and couldn’t recommend it enough for keen young cricketers looking to advance their game. School cricket would finish around 5pm, so most of the time I would head down to the Takapuna Senior training straight after to get in a bit of extra practice. I will never forget my first couple of trainings with the Takapuna Seniors. There wasn’t a shortage of guys lining up to bowl two metre “no balls” half way down the pitch whizzing past your ears in the fading 7pm night light, followed more than often not with a sledge. Overall I could not have asked for a better bunch of people to start my club cricket career with. They were always very supportive and it was pretty special coming to training and playing with the likes of Black Cap Paul Hitchcock.
AB: Is there a particular player/coach that has helped you develop over the years?
EH: It would be very tough for me to narrow it down to a specific coach. I’ve been very lucky to of had a great bunch of players, coaches and general support group (family) that have each had a huge part in developing my game on and off the field. Cricket is a tough sport that is filled with ups and downs and the high moments can be few and far between. So I feel it is very important to surround yourself with people that will kept the joy of the game alive. At present I have a few different coaches such as Nick White and Shoruban Pasipati who are a huge help to my development, they know my game inside-out and keep a watchful eye when I stray.
AB: Who is your favourite cricketer on the world stage?
EH: I have a few… At the moment I would have to say Nathan Lyon and the retired Graeme Swann. They are two players that I look up to on the bowling side of things and those who know me well would be quick to say that I have spent a few hours watching highlight packages of them on the internet. They all think I’m a bit of a cricket tragic, but I feel that it’s important to look up to some of the greats and pick up a few learning from watching the way they go about their business.
AB: Who are the best cricketers you have played with?
EH: I’ve been lucky enough to have played with a lot of great cricketers. Takapuna cricket club has been home to a few Black Caps that I’ve managed to play with such as Andre Adams, Lou Vincent and Paul Hitchcock. All of which have been great players. The best thing about playing with guys with such talent is that you are able to watch the way they prepare themselves, train and read the game. When you are a youngster coming through you really look up these guys, so it’s always awesome to see them involved in club cricket after playing for New Zealand.
AB: Do you enjoy the shorter or longer forms of the game?
EH: I would have to say that I am a bit of a purist and think that the pinnacle of cricket is the longer first class format. However, over the past few years I have a more balanced view and now thoroughly enjoy the shorter formats as well. The great thing about the shorter formats is the great atmosphere that surrounds them, particularly in competitions such as the Australian Big Bash and IPL. It’s just awesome to see the diverse interest in the game that it’s creating, which is very positive for the future for cricket.
AB: Where did the name ‘Pirates’ come from for your Takapuna Senior side?
EH: The ‘Pirates’ name arose on the Takapuna cricket scene around five years ago. A couple of our senior players came up with the name and seems to have stuck with us. It originates from some of the players love for Rum, which sure doesn’t go a miss when celebrating a win!
AB: The Pirates have had a pretty good year in 2016/2017 as well. Winning a couple of competitions as well as this award for you. It has been a good season all round for Taka hasn’t it?
EH: The 2016/2017 season has been one to remember for the Taka club. The Senior men’s managed to win the one day, two day title and also the 20/20 Plate cup. I believe no other club team has done this before. The Senior woman’s team had an amazing year also winning both of their one day competitions. All this success around the club contributed to the Takapuna Cricket Club wining the Auckland “Club of the Year” which is a very special award to claim and is testimony to the culture that currently embodies Takapuna.
AB: You’ve played regularly for the Auckland second eleven in 2016/2017, are you confident of going to the next level in the 2017/2018 season?
EH: Over the past couple of years I’ve been lucky enough to have involvement with the second eleven and a bit with the Aces. This has been a great environment to be a part of as you get access to quality coaches and facilities which all helps in aiding in your personal improvement. For me, the 2016/2017 season has been a rollercoaster ride, it’s been full of ups with regards on field successes and the lows were untimely injuries and sickness. However, I feel that I have come out on top and have kept my drive which has always been to play first class cricket. So if that is to happen in the 2017/2018 season it will be very special to me but I am very aware that it won’t come easy and depends on a variety of outcomes that are not always in your control. I feel that the best is to come but this season has been an incredibly important experience.