The Manawatu team's annihilation of Taranaki at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth inside a day last weekend was amazing to watch, if a little surreal.
The destruction of what was a strong Taranaki batting lineup for a record low total of 35 was no fluke because Manawatu then rolled them for 80 in the second innings.
Taranaki had two batsmen with test experience in former Black Caps opener Peter Ingram and Zimbabwean Dion Ebrahim, as well as Central Districts Stags batsmen Dean Robinson and Will Young.
Other talented CD under-19 players James McDougall and Jackson Braddock-Pago were shown up and looked to be out of their depth at this level.
The bowling of player-coach Michael Mason, Bevan Small and Roald Badenhorst was relentless and like all good teams, our lads put their foot on Taranaki's throat and didn't let off.
Throw in experienced campaigners Jamie Watkins, Leith Johnston and another Zimbabwean test player, fast bowler Douglas Hondo, and on paper it was probably the strongest Taranaki side in years, which makes the performance all the more impressive.
The carnage was so bad that the Manawatu lads had a first innings lead by 12.22pm on Saturday and the match was over by 5.25pm, having lasted all of 75 overs!
It is also fortunate the team did finish the game off in one day, as the rain came on the Sunday and no play was possible.
■ Manawatu's star all-rounder Badenhorst and wicketkeeper-batsman Dane Cleaver must be frustrated young men right now.
Badenhorst is in career-best form, taking a remarkable 10-14 in the match against Taranaki, and keeps knocking sides over at district level, yet can't get a game for the CD Stags.
Cleaver on the other hand has had injury and form issues, but it is still bewildering to me that someone of his talent can be left out of both the four-day and Twenty20 CD sides for part-time keepers at best, now Kruger van Wyk has left to join the Black Caps in Sri Lanka.
Both will eventually get opportunities again at the next level and the key for them is to make sure they take their chances.
The continual assumption by CD selectors that outside talents coming into the region are better than CD locals, is still providing a major point of frustration.
Quality development and coaching personnel from a number of districts have spent years bringing up talented players and when their players miss out due to this, it tends to leave people wondering why they put in so much extra effort.
Taranaki's Dean Robinson, Wanganui's Ben Smith and our own Badenhorst have all had significant success at first-class level, when given the opportunity.
But they have missed out this season, so far, due to journeymen from Auckland, Northern Districts and Wellington being brought straight in without really proving themselves at district level.
■ Another aspect frustrating many district administrators is that the first round of the Hawke Cup was shifted specifically so Stags players could play for their district sides. And yet only three bothered to turn out for their districts.
Someone cynical might suggest there might possibly be a link between this and the influx of outside players to the Stags' ranks!
- Manawatu Standard
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