South Canterbury have their backs to the wall, in their third round-robin Hawke Cup match against Otago Country.

The batsmen are under fire after two consecutive poor efforts against North Otago and Mid Canterbury, including being dismissed for just 62 in the second innings in Ashburton a fortnight ago.

South Canterbury coach Richard Davidson has made two changes to the team which lost by eight wickets in that match. With Maulik Patel and Jacob Naylor unavailable, Timaru Boys’ High School’s Blair Brown comes in to the 12, while pace-bowler Glenn Matthews returns after recovering from a hamstring niggle he picked up against North Otago three weeks ago.

Davidson said it was time for the experienced top-order to step up this weekend.

“Craig Davies was a run-scoring machine for us last season, and he needs to find that again, as does Dan Laming.

“Jimmy Laming has been the shining light in the middle-order so far.

The Molyneux Park pitch in Alexandra is a domestic first-class wicket and is expected to be batsman friendly.

Davidson said team morale was good, despite the setbacks.

“It’s just a matter of getting a first-innings total to get our confidence back.

“Defending 200 [runs] is not an option.

“I think they [the players] realise they let themselves down in Ashburton, and they’re keen to put things right.”

He said having the extra pace of Matthews would give the bowling-attack variation, while he also looked to Temuka bowler Kevin Teahen to act as a “workhorse”.

Davies and Sam Carlaw will shoulder much of the slow bowling responsibilities.

Otago Country earned first-innings points against Southland two weeks ago.

Otago Country made 304 thanks to Fraser Wilson’s 123, and then skittled Southland for 222, with four for 22 from Sam Blakely, being the main reason.

Davidson said South Canterbury had not given up hope of a Hawke Cup challenge.

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