Firstly, hats off to the Black Sox for their win at the Intercontinental Cup. Any time a trophy goes in the cabinet it’s hard to argue the campaign wasn’t a success.
But the team got so much more than just silverware and it’s why this team continues to succeed.
The Black Sox departed for Prague with a 17-man squad but a big component of it was the names in it – six rookies and no Mark Sorenson or Nathan Nukunuku.
The team were always heading over to win – as defending world champions you can’t have any other mindset – but they also wanted to use it as a learning experience on multiple fronts.
Prague hosted the team this year and they’ll do the same in nine months but on a much grander scale when the world championships head to the Czech Republic for the first time.
So the first experience gained was getting a scope for the diamonds, a feel for the city and a better understanding of the culture the team will immerse itself in next year when they look to defend their title.
And of course, there were experiences gained on the diamond as well – but not just from the rookies.
Yes, the likes of Daniel Chapman and Reilly Makea showed their talents superbly throughout the tournament and gained invaluable knowledge from it but without the likes of Brutus and Nate there, it also served as time for other leaders in the senior group to step up.
And look at the results – they did just that.
While only players inside that 17-man unit can say what happened off the diamond in camp, stats from the Intercontinental Cup show the senior group delivered when it mattered.
Nik Hayes had a dominant week on the mound, posting a 0.47 ERA in 19 innings of work.
Thomas and Ben Enoka both brought up 50 caps for the Black Sox and funnily enough finished with the same batting average of .294.
With players also taking experience from ISC campaigns, the upcoming Super Cup and a whole Kiwi summer before next year’s world champs, it’s looking like another promising campaign is on the cards.
We may need a bigger trophy cabinet.