South Canterbury cricket coach Robin Beeby believes he has the best players possible to bring the Hawke Cup back to the province for the second time.
This is despite missing out on the services of all-rounder Ben McCord for the province’s first Hawke Cup challenge in 13 years, against Bay of Plenty at Rotorua’s Smallbone Park, starting Friday.
Beeby and team manager have been pursuing McCord for most of the season, as they believed his fast bowling and middle-order batting would have give the team the perfect balance.
However, McCord’s call-up to the Canterbury team as well as niggling injuries have thwarted them at every turn.
Beeby said this time New Zealand Cricket did not give them dispensation for him to play since he did not live in South Canterbury.
It was good news for veteran Simon Murphy who would have carried the drinks as 12th man if McCord had been available.
The former Canterbury Country quick, who, with Dan Laming and Nick Horsley, is one of only three players in the team to ever contest and win the Hawke Cup, will now be part of a three-pronged pace attack with Craig Hinton and the consistent English import, Matt Woods.
Beeby said the experienced campaigner was fizzing about the opportunity.
“He’s really been putting in at training and he said to me [Monday] that he was really looking forward to it.
“That’s a great thing for us because he has ‘been there and done that’ when it comes to the Hawke Cup.”
Beeby said he didn’t think the players fully understood the magnitude of the match but still expected them to rise to the occasion.
He said he believed the batsmen had the ability to score a big first innings total.
Meanwhile, the bowling in partnerships philosophy which had been so successful this season would continue against a Bay of Plenty team they knew little about.
“It’s a huge effort to get but we’ve had three outright wins this year which is pretty impressive.”
He said the likes of Ritchie Preston former Northern Districts batsman Horsley could repeat their century heroics of earlier this season, while 18-year-old Glen Drake proved he was a talent with an unbeaten 81 in the successful run chase against Otago Country a fortnight ago.
“Nick and Glen batted really well together and I spoke to Glen after and asked him how he found it and he said ‘I’ve learnt a lot’.
“That’s what can happen when you bat with a guy who knows his game and has the temperament Nick has.”
Beeby said fitness would be another major issue, with Hawke Cup challenges lasting three days.
“It could be their fitness that has to get them through and that’s something we’ve worked on at training over the past couple of weeks.”
He said the team knew they were underdogs to repeat their Hawke Cup won of 2000 over Canterbury Country but there was a quiet confidence that comes with three wins from four matches this season.
“If guys like Presty and Nick can bat for a long time – even Glen – and we can get some handy contributions down the order, then I can definitely see us making a score of 500 plus which have been regular totals in challenge matches this season.”
South Canterbury team: Nick Horsley (c), Ritchie Preston, James Laming, Glen Drake, Craig Davies, Dan Laming, Glenn Matthews, Sam Carlaw, Matt Woods, Craig Hinton, Simon Murphy, Zane Sanders (12th man).