South Canterbury cricket coach Robin Beeby has described this weekend’s Hawke Cup fixture against Southland as “like a final”.
Chances are he is right.
South Canterbury will travel to Invercargill tied at the top of the ladder with the southerners, and whoever earns first innings points is likely to have a Hawke Cup challenge in March.
Beeby and team manager John Davies have made one change to the starting XI which earned first innings points against North Otago in Oamaru last weekend.
Timaru allrounder Zane Sanders ruled himself out after he believed an ankle injury suffered during the last rugby season could not handle two days of cricket in a row. It means last week’s 12th man, seamer Ben Watson will get a game.
Beeby said the biggest improvement from the North Otago match was the batting, where South Canterbury finally made a respectable first innings total of 276.
“I had a score in mind of around 280 so to get that close was good. By no means was it perfect so there is room for improvement.”
The bowling was lead by Star paceman Craig Hinton who took seven of the 13 North Otago wickets to fall.
Left-arm spinner Sam Carlaw will also be relied upon, as always, after struggling in Oamaru with blisters on his feet.
Beeby said the importance of a positive start could not be underestimated.
“It’s like a final – we have to at least get first innings because we don’t want to have to rely on other teams.”
Beeby said the improvement of teenage wicketkeeper Adam Beck was a highlight so far this year. “He has a lot of talent and his keeping will get better the more he works with Barry Ward.”
His first half century for South Canterbury helped set-up the first innings win.
South Canterbury team: Jimmy Laming (c), Richie Preston, Gerrit Roux, Jack Harper, Glen Drake, James Ellwood, Sam Carlaw, Adam Beck (wk), Nathan McNicol, Craig Hinton, Ben Watson
Southland team: Jason Domigan (c), Mark Beer, Bibwas Bibhas, Hamish Cooke, Shaun Fitzgibbon Jonathan Hodson, Hamish O’Brien, Mike Grattan, Craig Smith, Sam Ward, Rheubyn Prattley, Jared McKenzie (one to be left out).