OPINION: Manawatu has produced some great bowlers in the past at national level, but since the retirement of Sharon Sims (MNZM), it has been lean pickings for our centre.
Thus it was with a sense of great pleasure I noted the selection of Sophie Fisher (Himatangi Beach) and Caitlin Thomson (Hokowhitu) in the 22-person national under-18 squad, which will be trimmed to compete in the trans-Tasman series next year.
It is indeed a great fillip for those two clubs as well. There was a time we almost took national representation for granted, with the long and successful careers of Sims, Phil Skoglund (OBE), Peter Shaw, Vic Sellars, Philip Skoglund jnr, Russell Meyer, Lyn McLean and Joyce Osborne.
I've been impressed with these two girls - they have excellent natures as well as ability, something that will serve them well in life whatever they do.
Both players were members of the Manawatu five-year-and-under side that won the annual tournament with Wellington, Kapiti and Wairarapa last week, the first time Manawatu has won back-to-back tournaments.
Thomson starred with two wins and a vital draw against Wellington in the singles, while the pair of Ailsa Lindsay and Glenda O'Connor were unbeaten.
The 2-4-2 pair of Fisher and Tania Harris won two from three, while the triple had one win and two narrow losses.
Final points were: Manawatu 17, Wellington 13, Kapiti 13 and Wairarapa six.
Several unavailabilities meant our women's senior team will be rebuilding this season and it remains to be seen whether selector Viv Lozell will be bold enough to thrust someone like Thomson into a team combination. Such commanding form at the singles discipline could easily transfer to a front-end role.
■ Selector Eic Watson has named his 14 players to compete in the Arnott Shield with Taranaki and Wanganui.
The event is in Wanganui over the weekend of November 17-18 and Manawatu are in need of a good showing to warrant the investment required to send them to the national inter-centre this season.
Pat Horgan was the only unavailable player.
The teams are. -
Green: Singles, Chris Barrett, pairs Craig Gush (s) and Adam Johnston; fours: Phillip Skoglund jnr (s), Graeme Cooley, Grant Davis and Ross Ellery.
White: singles Scotty McGavin, pairs Mark Noble (s) and Neil Gordon, fours Brian Little (s), Steve Toms, Barry Wynks (QSM), and Terry Curtis.
Two fours will also contest the development tournament between the same centres. Those selected are Grant Simms (s), Keith Hughes, Graham Black and Te Nawe Hooper-Whiti (team one), and Mike Hodge (s), Ian Lewis, Mike Bowey and Chance Hausman.
■ Centre president Phil Skoglund tells me they have yet to secure funding to send our men's and women's teams to the inter-centre and this was set as a pre-requisite before entering.
It is to be hoped that is obtainable as players will already have to front with some funds and there is nothing worse than having to pick a team only from those who can afford it.
■ Interclub was interrupted by weather on Saturday with most sections only completing one round. For me it again brought into question the decision to begin at 10am instead of the traditional 9am start. An extra hour would have seen the second round completed. Most players are marking time for that hour anyway and besides, bed is a good place to get out of - a lot of people die there!
Northern have lost only one game in women's division one and the final two rounds won't be played as they can't be headed. When you consider they also look nearly unassailable in division two, the lack of depth in other clubs is being dramatically exposed.
In that division, Northern A have 18 points, Northern B 16 and Johnston Park with 12 the best of the rest.
It is a totally different situation in the men's contests. In division one with 2 and 1/5 rounds to go, Palmerston North lead with 12 points, Northern 11, Takaro seven and Terrace End with six are not entirely out of touch.
While the bottom two may struggle to win, they will probably dictate the outcome by what games they take off the first two. In division two you can throw a blanket over five teams with Palmerston North A on 14, both Johnston Park teams and Terrace End on 12 and Ashhurst-Te Kawau on 10 well in touch.
■ You will have noticed I acknowledged several players in this column by including reference to their civic honours. We need to remember what contribution players have made to this and other sports.
■ Northern's women's division-one team has been nominated for Manawatu team of the year and Barry Wynks for disabled sportsman.
Barry competes only in open competition and the only time I have seen him acknowledge his disability is when it's time to shout and extract money from his wallet! Seriously though, most deserved for both.
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