South Canterbury’s preparations for provincial cricket’s Hawke Cup will step up tomorrow when they face cup-holders North Otago at Aorangi Park.

South Canterbury coach Richard Davidson has made a solitary change to the team which beat Mid Canterbury by 14 runs last weekend.

Captain Dan Laming returns after recovering from a knee complaint, to replace fellow Celtic player Matt Mealings. Davidson said it was a nice change of pace not to have to chop and change his team, especially during the pre-season.

“This week would be the first time [in three seasons] that I’ve had to tell someone that they won’t be playing this weekend, which was hard, and I didn’t really enjoy it, but it’s the position we are in.

“Usually we are scrambling around for players a week before we play the game, but this season it’s been good to have so many keen guys putting up their hands, and it means form in club cricket is quite important.”

He said he was not sure how strong the North Otago team would be, but he was focusing on his team winning their third game in a row.

“I don’t know if they will be at full strength,” he said. “They may keep their cards close to their chest.

“It won’t be a matter of who is bluffing who, but I can say we’ll be pretty much a full lineup.

“We are just looking to keep the momentum going from the previous two games.”

Davidson anticipates a hard and fast pitch at Aorangi Oval, with groundsman Mike Davies expected to have drier weather in the leadup than he did two weeks ago for the Christchurch Suburban clash.

Davidson said it would be a good test for his side no matter what team North Otago fronted up with.

“They’re pretty excited to have the Hawke Cup down there.

“They have 17 or 18 guys in the squad, so they’re obviously pretty keen to put their best foot forward.”

The two teams will clash again in the two-day Hawke Cup competition at the end of this month.

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