South Canterbury cricket coach Richard Davidson is asking South Canterbury cricket clubs to help him give the representative team the best chance of winning the Hawke Cup this season.

He said South Canterbury had a good chance of getting a Hawke Cup challenge this season. With zone rivals North Otago being the current holders, their first challenge must come from the highest placed team in their zone.

Davidson said at the annual meeting he would like to see clubs use their batsmen in the same position as they bat for the representative team. He said it was the only way players could get used to their roles, for the season ahead.

“There have been players playing at club level who have batted higher up in the [representative] side, so the plea was made to the clubs [at the annual meeting] to encourage everyone to make themselves available for the [representative]side … and to bat people where they are probably going to bat in the [representative] team, to give them every chance of performing.”

Davidson said Celtic’s dominance of South Canterbury cricket in recent seasons had played a part in batsmen being under-prepared for provincial games.

“We’ve got guys batting in one club, Celtic, dare I say it, who are batting six or seven for Celtic, but in the past, have batted four or five for the [representative] side.

“They’re not getting the chance at club level, and Celtic, as strong as they are, they’re coming away 15 or 20 not out, which is not good enough to compete at two-day level, but they are just about first pick for the [representative] side because we haven’t had players like we have this year who have put their hands up and said `I want to play’.”

Davidson said he had a strong squad lined up, with the bowling likely to be made of South Canterbury bowler-of-the-year Kevin Teahen, Glen Matthews and Craig Hinton, while the batting would be spearheaded by new captain Dan Laming and Craig Davies, who averaged 56 last season. Richard Preston expected to don the wicket-keeping gloves after a three-season absence.

Positive performances against North Otago, Mid Canterbury, Central Otago and Southland could see them have an opportunity to lift the cup which they have not won since 2000.

“I’m convinced that if we play our top side, I’m convinced we are going to do well.

“If we play our top side and play and get beaten, well, we can’t have any excuses, but if we have a team, where people make themselves unavailable, and most of them have said they will make themselves available … then we will have excuses, but I am confident.”

Davidson said he was comfortable to have the “nucleus” of the team come from Timaru, but refused to rule out “two or three players” who were playing outside the province, but had played in South Canterbury in the past.

Davidson said the loss of 100-game veteran and captain Todd Elliotte would be a big one, but he was confident other players, including Laming, could step up.

Canterbury have three warmup games left, with the next against Christchurch Suburban in Timaru on October 31.

Their first Hawke Cup game is against North Otago on November 27 and 28, just two weeks after they play them in their final warmup match.

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