PHOTOSPORT

Devcich retires after stellar career

Anton Devcich has been a household name for the Northern Districts men’s team for a long time. Having represented his region from the age of 19, Devcich has played an integral role in the success of the Northern Districts men’s side over the years.  Pat Malcon, Chair of Selectors at the club, tells the Anton Devcich story.

Anton Devcich made his debut for Northern Districts (ND) aged 19 in a first-class game against Otago at Harry Barker Reserve in Gisborne in January 2005. He was one of four 19-year-old debutants in that team, the others being Brad Wilson, Daniel Flynn, and Te Ahu Davis. Another 19-year-old, BJ Watling had made his debut a few weeks earlier. Batting at No.9, Anton was stranded on 94 not out when the last wicket fell in the first innings. The 9th wicket partnership of 96 between Anton and now ND coach Graeme Aldridge (29) was a major factor in a stunning ND victory.

That was to remain Anton’s highest first-class score for ND until he scored 123 v Otago at Seddon Park, some 10 seasons later in March 2015. He then followed with 132 v Wellington at the Basin Reserve in the very next game. That 2014/15 season was to be Anton’s finest first-class season, scoring 744 runs at an average of 49. Frustratingly, after such an outstanding start in 2005, it was the only season in which he averaged over 40 in first class cricket. However, he did add a further two centuries in 2017/18 (116 v Canterbury at Rangiora and 106 v Central Districts in Napier).

In his 53 first class games for ND, Anton has scored 2,606 runs at an average of 28, with 4 centuries and 13 half centuries. He has also taken 47 wickets, at an average of 35, and 32 catches.

Anton’s career coincided with the increased profile of white ball cricket, and especially the advent of T20 competitions worldwide. Perhaps the shorter versions suit his approach and skill sets better than the longer red ball format? Whatever the reason, he came to be seen as one of the best white ball players in New Zealand. His aggressive batting at the top of the order and his ability to access all areas of the ground with a range of shots put pressure on even the best bowlers.

In 73 List A (one day) games for ND Anton has scored 1,937 runs at an average of 30 (scoring one century and 17 half centuries). His century was 101no v Otago at Seddon Park in 2012.

In 109 T20 games for ND Anton has scored 2,395 runs at an average of 26 (one century, 15 half centuries and a strike rate of 137). The century came as recently as last season, when he blasted 102 off 49 balls v Central Districts at Pukekura Park, an innings which included 9 sixes.

Anton’s slow left armers have also been more effective in the shorter formats of the game. His undercutters, arm balls, and changes of pace have proved difficult to score from and he has often been given the new ball to use in T20s. There were times when he lost confidence in his bowling, especially in recent seasons, but he was a key bowler for ND in T20s for a significant period. His T20 figures of 66 wickets at 24 (economy rate of 7.4) shows how valuable a contribution he made in this format, more impressive than his 42 wickets at 47 in the one-day format. However, his best bowling figures for ND, 5/46 v Wellington at the Basin Reserve in 2018/19, came in the latter format.

Anton’s performances in domestic cricket saw him rewarded with selection for the BLACKCAPS in 12 ODIs and 4 International T20s. He was not out of place at the highest level. He scored 58 v Pakistan in an ODI in Sharjah, 59 in a T20 v Bangladesh, and scored his maiden first class century for NZ A v India A in India in 2013.

Anton’s performances for ND and New Zealand did not go unnoticed in other parts of the cricketing world. He epitomises the modern-day cricketer who finds a particular niche in T20 cricket. He has travelled the world and played in numerous overseas leagues – from the Big Bash in Australia to the Caribbean Premier League, the Pakistan Super League, and leagues in Ireland, Hong Kong, and Canada. 

Whatever the future holds for him, Anton will be remembered for his competitiveness, his aggressive batting, his parsimonious bowling, and his athletic fielding. There is no doubt Anton’s has been one of the great ND careers.

ND’s General Manager, Performance and Talent, Daniel Archer echoes the sentiment around the competitiveness of Devcich and the attributes he brought to the Club.

“Anton has been a key contributor to our cricket programme for many years. His competitiveness and passion in the way he played at all levels, was what brought the best out in him. He should be proud of what he has been able to achieve as a player and we thank him for all he has given ND over many years. We wish him and his family all the best it what life brings next.” said Archer. 

For Anton Devcich, there are many fond memories to cherish after a long-serving career. 

“ND has been a part of my life since I first wore the ND cap at the age of 12, so I am extremely proud and honoured to have played so many seasons for ND. I’ll hang on to some great friendships and memories that the game has given me. 

A favourite memory of mine was playing in the Champions League, where we had one of the best teams I think ND could ever put on paper. We held our own against some of the best teams in the world at the time and played some exciting cricket. It was awesome. Adding to that all the championships we won over the years was a highlight also. 

As we know behind every athlete is a great support crew, and Devcich acknowledges those special people in his life who made it all possible.

“I would like to thank my family and wife Brooke for the endless support over the years, it wouldn’t have been possible without you guys around. Also, to Chris Kuggeleijn who has been my coach since 13, you’re a legend mate, thanks for your help.” 

ND plan to recognise and celebrate Anton’s career at their season launch on Thursday 2 September.

Article provided by Pat Malcon and ND Cricket, VISIT www.ndcricket.co.nz

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