Freyberg look hard to beat but could struggle with reps away
Winners of last year's two-day and one-day competitions, Freyberg are again looking good this summer.
They have retained most of last year's team and will be hard to beat when they are full strength, but could struggle when the Manawatu reps are away.
The bowling department has taken a hit with Manawatu coach and former Central Districts paceman Mike Mason retiring from club cricket and speedster Bevan Small may not feature much as he should be a fixture with CD.
They have the addition of CD leggie Tarun Nethula, who has moved from Hawke's Bay and will play if his CD commitments allow it.
The batting department is looking good with the aggressive Manawatu captain Luke Murray at the top of the order and they have picked up Avinash Sharma, who has played for the Oxford University Cricket Club.
Dane Cleaver finished last summer by scoring 300 so will be one of their go-to batsmen again.
Batsmen Adrian West and Glen Blay return and Palmerston North Boys' High School pace bowler Ali Akhtar will be another option.
Veteran Dave Fulton continues to defy his retirement last year and will front again, mainly when the reps are away.
They won't have the services of former rep bowler Chris Turkington, who is now in Auckland, while all-rounder Dean White is in Wellington and spinner Mike Ireland has gone to Feilding.
All-rounder Grayson Harwood should play once he gets back from university in Auckland and they will have batsman Jamie Marshall as a backup wicketkeeper to Cleaver.
Probably the best side not to win anything last year, Palmerston will again push for some silverware.
Unaffected by rep games, Palmerston were beaten one-day finalists, came close to winning the two-day competition and have the same team back again this year.
Led by last season's player of the year, all-rounder Rob Sheary, Palmerston's experienced team will be strong again.
Kayne Dunlop, Brett Wyeth, James Kirk and Dom Carroll will all feature again, while Sheary is a regular run scorer and wicket taker.
Medium pacer Dan Batley, handy all-rounder Benn Dixon and veteran David Hands will fill in if needed and Rob Robinson will play another season.
Russell Swindells is away for the first three weeks of the season in South Africa with the New Zealand over-35 indoor cricket team.
Their losses are Alex Petty, who is moving to Adelaide for work, and Englishman Jono Waugh who has gone home.
Marist have the same predicament as Freyberg in that they are one of the strongest sides when at full strength, but find it hard when their rep players are away.
With a batting lineup of Dave Meiring, who racked up a triple century last season, Mitchell Renwick, Jamie How and Roald Badenhorst they should never struggle for runs.
CD batsman How will play when he can, but will be on a diet of mostly first-class cricket and Badenhorst, who had a prolific summer with bat and ball last year, may also be away with CD at times.
Shay Pandey can open the batting if needed and another batsman is James Holland once he's back from university in Auckland, the same with Connor Morriss.
Navin Patel will be their strike pace bowler, but will play for the rep side, and they also have seamers Matt Wells, Tom Giesen and Chris Hyde.
Off-spinner Nic Carter and leg-spinner Zane Burn will be their spin options.
Their biggest loss is opening bowler Michael Cummings, who is in semi-retirement but should play when the reps are out.
Marist should be one of the better sides and early signs are looking good after a big win over Hutt Districts in a pre-season match last weekend.
Tomorrow, weather permitting, Boys' High play Freyberg at Hokowhitu Park, United face Old Boys at Wallace Park and Palmerston take on Marist at Ongley Park.
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