Hawke Cup challenge prompts wild accusations, and excitement
Former Manawatu player-coach Ian "Mouse" Sandbrook was one of the first to send through congratulations to coach Mike Mason and the NZCT Manawatu team for securing a Hawke Cup challenge, from his new position as one of Cricket Scotland's development managers in Edinburgh.
Sandbrook also forewarned Mason to not fall for my inevitable claims to be the brains and driving force behind the whole success of the team.
He also made wild accusations that I will be jumping on board as a "manager/assistant coach/massage therapist" for the challenge and spend most of the three days "cutting some serious shapes" at Tauranga's fine drinking establishments.
I am very disappointed that Mouse would make completely unprofessional comments like that and give away all my trade secrets. I also would like to go on record and officially state that I will not be going with the team as a manager/assistant coach/massage therapist.
However, due to the late nature of the booking, we could not get into a hotel that would supply breakfast for the team so I will be going with the team as head nutritionist and breakfast chef. If the old saying holds true that you can't trust a skinny cook, I figure by default that I must be about as trustworthy as they come!
■ It was great to see a couple of Manawatu products now plying their trade elsewhere and performing well over the past week.
White Ferns opening bowler Rachel Candy took career-best figures of 5-19 against Pakistan at the Women's World Cup in India.
After missing the team for the first game, Candy showed what she brings to the team with a great performance. Hopefully she will now be retained in the starting lineup for the rest of the tournament, where I believe the White Ferns have a real shot of at least making the final, if not winning the tournament overall.
Another making his mark was former Manawatu opener George Worker, who scored his second first-class hundred against the Wellington Firebirds for Canterbury.
Worker has had a bit of a rough year in four-day cricket this season, but expect to see the runs flow steadily for him over the rest of the season, especially when the Ford trophy begins. Worker also has two hundreds in first-class one-day cricket and is beginning to build a solid record in one-dayers as well as Twenty20 cricket.
I have long believed Worker will eventually play for the Black Caps, but I think it's beneficial for him to continue improving and developing his game at first-class level for a little while yet before he gets put into the Black Caps environment.
As I believe is usually the case, he will be ready only when his first-class form demands selection, and elevating him too early won't do him any favours in the long run.
■ There has been a buzz around the Manawatu Cricket Association office this week, with everyone seeming to have a bit more bounce in their step.
Having seen the positive effect a Hawke Cup win can have on a region a couple of years ago, everyone at the MCA and the players know just how big the Hawke Cup Challenge is to the region, and the lads are determined to bring the cup home. It will be a way of saying thank you to supporters, sponsors, club and school players, board members, life members, volunteers, coaches, teachers, and parents.