Full-strength lineup out to defend Chapple Cup
Manawatu will be rolling out all their Central Districts' big guns in an effort to defend their Chapple Cup one-day title in Napier this weekend.
CD players Jamie How, Dane Cleaver, Roald Badenhorst, Bevan Small, Adam Milne, as well as Mike Mason, who retired from first-class cricket last year, will be on deck when Manawatu starts the three-day tournament against Wairarapa tomorrow.
It will probably be the only time this season they are all available, because of their CD commitments, but it is a strong side which should get to the semifinal on Sunday, which is likely to be against Hawke's Bay, and possibly the final on Monday.
Having all their CD players will make it easier for Mason, who will have his first game as Manawatu's player-coach.
"We've got a really good side and we can definitely win it," he said. "Been pretty positive. Just looking forward to getting out there and playing some cricket. We have been training all winter for it."
The Manawatu side is similar to the team that won the cup last year and Mason said they all know what it takes to win.
Manawatu should get past Wairarapa in the first round, which sets up an important semifinal against Hawke's Bay, which is also likely to have its first-class players, including Doug Bracewell, Carl Cachopa, Mathew Sinclair and Kieran Noema-Barnett.
"A big face-off between the CD guys," Mason said. "Everyone's played a lot in the nets. They all know their strengths and weaknesses."
After last weekend's Tararua Cup match against Wairarapa was rained off, Manawatu will be going in without a game under its belt, which will make it tough with potentially three days of cricket ahead.
"[We're] always keen to come home with some silverware every year," Mason said. "We've been pretty good the last couple of years. There's no reason why we can't carry it on. If we can bring it away again, having no preparation whatsoever is just more satisfying."
Usual wicketkeeper Dane Cleaver has recovered from a back injury, but he will be used just as a batsman and younger brother, Brynn will take the gloves.
The Manawatu lineup looks good with captain and hard-hitter Luke Murray, CD all-rounder Badenhorst and medium pacer Phil Mecredy.
Palmerston North Boys' High School all-rounder Arana Noema-Barnett will join the side on Sunday having returned from the first XI's tour of India and South Africa.
In the other first-round matches, Hawke's Bay play Wanganui, Taranaki play Marlborough and Nelson play Horowhenua-Kapiti.
Manawatu: Jamie How (Marist), Luke Murray (Freyberg) captain, Dane Cleaver (Freyberg), Dave Meiring (Marist), Brynn Cleaver (Old Boys), Mitchell Renwick (Marist), Roald Badenhorst (Marist), Tim Richards (Old Boys), Bevan Small (Freyberg), Adam Milne (Marist), Mike Mason (Freyberg), Phil Mecredy (United).