The South Canterbury Hawke Cup cricket team will be short on experience and without their two coaches for the crucial second-round match against Southland in Invercargill, starting tomorrow.
At least five front-line players will attend the wedding of former South Canterbury player Ryan de Joux this weekend and coach Bruce Carlaw and assistant coach Robin Beeby have also chosen to be there, leaving team manager John Davies as caretaker coach.
First choice players Craig Davies, Dan Laming, Glenn Matthews, Jeremy Liddy and Sam Carlaw will attend the wedding, while Beeby is in the official wedding party and Bruce Carlaw is “good mates” with De Joux.
Bruce Carlaw said he had “tremendously mixed feelings” about the decision, but he had faith in the abilities of John Davies to step in.
“He [Davies] has been with the team from the start and I’m sure he will do a great job.”
South Canterbury Cricket executive officer David Fisher said having both coaches away “was not ideal but unavoidable”.
Southland have won both of their Hawke Cup matches this season outright and a win over South Canterbury would all but assure them of top spot in the southern zone and a cup challenge.
South Canterbury will likely have two players on debut with Timaru’s left-arm spinner Zane Sanders and Indian-born batsman Dhananjaya Murari making the 12-man squad.
Bruce Carlaw said Murari was not considered an import player – only one is allowed under Hawke Cup rules – due to his long-standing work commitments.
Temuka’s Dylan Lees has earned a recall for his first Hawke Cup game after he played a pre-season one-day match.
Christchurch-based Ben McCord is unavailable, while Roncalli opening bowler Daniel Dorgan has been dropped.
Left-arm fast bowler Tahir Afridi has won the import spot over team-mate Ed Kilbee.
Bruce Carlaw said Kilbee had made himself unavailable for selection due to family commitments and he was “unsure” who he would have chosen if both Afridi, who is the leading wicket-taker and Kilbee, who is the top run-scorer, were available.
Afridi will be assisted with the seam bowling duties by Craig Hinton, who returns after missing the 10-wicket win over North Otago in round one, along with Temuka stalwart Kevin Teahen.
The young Celtic duo of Willie Wright and Jacob Naylor have earned recalls to cover for their absent clubmates. Bruce Carlaw said Wright would take the wicket-keeping duties from captain Richie Preston, who will be promoted to open the batting with Bill Walsh.
Carlaw said a first innings result was needed, and he was delighted with the hunger shown by the squad at training.
“Like I told the guys [on Wednesday] night, I’ve been really impressed by their commitment and determination at trainings and their willingness to improve.
“It has been a return to the old days of playing for pride.
“There is no doubt that getting a first innings result is important.”We feel we have the firepower in the bowling to get the job done and hopefully we’ll be able to get the runs we need with the bat.”
Bruce Carlaw said a decision on the playing XI would be made once they saw the pitch.
The squad is: Richie Preston ©, Bill Walsh, Dhananjaya Murari, Jacob Naylor, Mark Tutton, Willie Wright (wk), Tahir Afridi, Dylan Lees, Craig Hinton, Kevin Teahen, Ben Watson, Zane Sanders