The South Canterbury selectors have shown faith with their 12-man squad for the first Hawke Cup zone match of the season against North Otago, starting at Aorangi Oval in Timaru today.

The only big name missing is last year’s captain Ritchie Preston, who was unavailable for personal reasons.

The Christchurch-based top-order batsman had already been relieved of the captaincy, with coach Robin Beeby and selector John Davies eager to have a captain who was involved in the South Canterbury club scene.

Beeby said it was “frustrating” Preston withdrew after they had given him every chance to be selected for the match.

The duo have chosen Celtic spinner Sam Carlaw as the new captain, a role he fulfilled in the warmup game against North Otago last month.

Beeby said with Carlaw recently becoming a father, he hoped it would help him level out his game.

“Hopefully the experience has given him an increased sense of maturity and this can flow through to his cricket.”

The team boasts three senior club captains, with Celtic’s Craig Davies, Timaru’s Zane Sanders and Waimate’s Glen Drake all likely to play a part with the bat.

Beeby stressed the importance of the top seven making big scores, especially on an Aorangi Oval pitch which rarely gives a side the chance to take 20 wickets for an outright win.

“It all comes down to their application and mentality.

“Craig Davies shows he can score runs week-in week-out at club level, the same with (Nick) Horsley.

“I’ve said all the batsmen down to No 7 with Zane [Sanders] that they need to make centuries and I expect at least two of them to make that score.”

Celtic fast bowler Ben Watson is a surprise and he could partner Star veteran Craig Hinton, Waimate’s former Canterbury Country representative Simon Murphy or English left-armer Matt Woods, who won the overseas player role ahead of Indian batsman Srinivas KS.

South Canterbury beat North Otago by 114 runs in a 50-over game in Oamaru a fortnight ago, but Beeby took little comfort from the result after the hosts gave up the pursuit of 283 early in the run chase.

North Otago are without former Otago Volts pace bowler David Sewell but have been granted an extra overseas player by New Zealand Cricket thanks to Stephan Grobler and Ed Smith acting as player-coaches.

South Canterbury: Sam Carlaw (capt), Craig Davies, James Laming, Johnny Geddis, Nick Horsley, Glen Drake, Zane Sanders, Sam Porter, Matt Woods, Simon Murphy, Craig Hinton, Ben Watson.

North Otago: Stephan Grobler (capt), Darcy Hooper-Smith, Jeremiah Shields, Ben Cant, Jordy Horrell, Duncan Drew, Sean Conlan, Tim McCormick, Ed Smith, Ricki Whyte, Chris Ware, George Inwood.

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