Bryn Templeman will be making a long-awaited return to the Manawatu side as part of a new-look bowling attack for their Hawke Cup match against Wanganui tomorrow.
The pace bowler has been named in the side for the two-day game in the river city in the absence of Roald Badenhorst and Bevan Small, who will play for Central Districts against Otago on Monday.
Turbos hooker Templeman, 24, has missed the past two cricket seasons, with surgery to both knees putting paid to any summer sport.
He has impressed player-coach Mike Mason with his return to cricket this summer and was keen to get back into it.
"I was a bit cautious to start with at club training and rep training," Templeman said. "It's been about two or three weeks. It's quite exciting."
Surgery on his right leg put him out of the 2010-11 season and he missed last summer while laid up after a left knee reconstruction.
He has played two club games for Old Boys this season, and said he felt good.
"Every week is getting a bit better. I think Mase has got a bit of confidence in me."
The 24-year-old was surprised when Mason phoned him in October and asked if he would consider playing once the rugby season was over.
He is just back from playing sevens and 10s rugby with England-based club Penguins in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
"I'd like to keep the two sports going for a while," he said.
It is tricky, combining weight training for rugby and keeping flexible for cricket.
With 10 games for the Manawatu cricket team under his belt, Templeman said he was hoping to continue his form from when Manawatu held the Hawke Cup during the 2009-2010 season.
In the other change, Palmerston North Boys' High School batsman Hayden Hill joins the squad after showing good form in club cricket and at the Gillette Cup national schools tournament at Lincoln this week.
Mason believes the team will cope without the two first-class bowlers.
"We all expected at some stage Bevan would disappear and Roald was a real good chance of disappearing," Mason said.
"We were lucky to have them for that long. It gives us a chance to step up now."
Manawatu have their batting lineup intact, and with former Black Cap Mason still spearheading the attack, they have a good chance of winning vital first-innings points.
The match is a key one for Manawatu if they want to keep up with Hawke's Bay, who lead the zone, three points ahead of Manawatu.
Wanganui lost to Hawke's Bay by 10 wickets in the last round.
Manawatu: Luke Murray (captain), Brynn Cleaver, Dave Meiring, Dane Cleaver, Mitch Renwick, Hayden Hill, Arana Noema-Barnett, Navin Patel, Tim Richards, Mike Mason, Bryn Templeman, Phil Mecredy.
Hawke Cup points: Hawke's Bay 20, Manawatu 17, Taranaki 7, Wanganui 7, Wairarapa 2, Horowhenua-Kapiti 1.
- Manawatu Standard