Selection headaches are still on the cards for the South Canterbury cricket selectors despite the naming of a 13-man squad for their first Hawke Cup match of the season against North Otago, in Oamaru.
Four quick bowlers appear to be chasing two spots for the match which begins on Saturday.
Coach Bruce Carlaw and his fellow selectors Robin Beeby and John Davies have sprung a few surprises, with Celtic’s Glenn Matthews back in favour, despite struggling for fitness this season, while Ben McCord returns to the side, straight out of Christchurch club cricket.
There is also a new captain in Richie Preston.
Former captain Dan Laming still makes the squad, but his brother, James, is nowhere to be seen.
Temuka’s Dylan Lees also missed out despite three wickets on debut, in the one-day game against North Otago a fortnight ago.
The Roncalli pacemen of Daniel Dorgan and Ben Watson have also been included, as have both English imports, batsman Ed Kilbee and left-arm swing bowler Tahir Afridi, though under Hawke Cup rules, only one of them will be eligible.
South Canterbury Cricket Association executive officer David Fisher has written to New Zealand Cricket asking for a dispensation to play both Englishmen.
Carlaw said the batting was “still the focus” but the big questions remained as to who would spearhead the bowling.
Usual selections Craig Hinton and Kevin Teahen are both unavailable and if only one of the English imports is allowed to play, then Carlaw said it would be Kilbee thanks to the 510 runs he has scored at an average of 72, so far this club season, leaving a quick bowling option in Afridi on the shelf.
“He (Kilbee) gives us someone who can score a lot of runs and get a big score.
“It is a tough decision on both guys.
Carlaw said both Watson and Dorgan would be assessed during their South Canterbury under-18 campaign in Christchurch this week.
He said Matthews was getting back to full fitness, an opinion shared by Celtic captain Craig Davies, who watched him get through six wicketless overs on Saturday.
Carlaw said Lees missed out because of his lack of speed.
“There is no doubt, Dylan’s debut was impressive, but we are looking for a little more pace.”
Carlaw said McCord would offer them a seam-bowling option, as well as some middle-order runs.
“He will be a bowler who bats for us.”
Carlaw said Celtic’s Jeremy Liddy and Christchurch-based former South Cantabrian Bill Walsh would open the batting with the hard-hitting Preston likely to drop down to the middle order.
Carlaw said the spin of Sam Carlaw and part-timers Davies and Walsh, could be vital on a pitch he felt would be similar to the batsmen-friendly pitch at Aorangi Oval.
He said while they had decided “to go in a new direction” in giving the captaincy to Preston, he hoped Dan Laming would be invaluable as a top-order batsman and a medium-pace bowling option.
Carlaw said he hoped to have a team announced after Wednesday night’s training.
South Canterbury squad for the Hawke Cup match against North Otago: Richie Preston c wk, Bill Walsh, Jeremy Liddy, Craig Davies, Dan Laming, Ben McCord, Ede Kilbee, Mark Tutton, Sam Carlaw, Tahir Afridi, Glenn Matthews, Daniel Dorgan and Ben Watson (two to be omitted).