Batting shapes as cup key
Manawatu's Hawke Cup challengers might be unbeaten this season but their batting will have to stand up at Blake Park, Mt Maunganui, from tomorrow.
The team will have a long tail when they shape up to Hawke Cup holders Bay of Plenty at the remodelled Bay Oval for the next three days.
Manawatu are loaded with allrounders who have scored runs at first-class level and player-coach Mike Mason has even called back Black Cap Adam Milne as a batsman.
Milne has been off the New Zealand road map because of a shin injury. But Mason points out he has a first-class batting average of 47 and has scored 97 for Central Districts.
Captain and opening batsman Luke Murray is out because he will be at his best mate's wedding while CD opener Jamie How is to spend time at home with his new baby after a busy season. The only CD player coming back is allrounder Roald Badenhorst.
The last time Manawatu and BOP met, in the 2010 defence at Fitzherbert Park, Manawatu flayed the BOP attack for 659 runs, How scoring 224 and Murray 136. Five of the current Manawatu side played in that innings-and-284-runs massacre, including captain David Meiring who scored 126 not out .
Something similar will be required this time against a BOP side who scored 701 in snatching the cup from Hamilton City two weeks ago.
Mason is confident Manawatu can win with the 12 men he was taking north today.
"We are a very good bowling side and we've got to be able to bowl them out to have a chance," he said. "The wicket will be pretty good; we're raring to go.
"Scoring 701 was an awesome effort but we'll have a lot better attack than Hamilton had. Everyone has got to front."
Mason reckons Manawatu's history of winning the cup and defending it will be another bonus.
Palmerston North Boys' High School allrounder Arana Noema-Barnett returns from a NZ under-19 camp.
Meiring, Dane Cleaver and Mason all had aching backs in the win over Wairarapa two weeks ago, but will play.
"We'll all front up and guts it out," Mason said.
While CD aren't playing, Northern Districts are in action which rules out Black Caps Kane Williamson, Daniel Flynn, Trent Boult and Graeme Aldridge for BOP.
BOP coach Mark Webb has brought back Jono Boult to captain the side, has an ND-contracted player in Brett Hampton while Corey Anderson and Tony Goodin have ND experience.
Webb still has memories of the challenge in Palmerston North three years ago.
"We learnt from Manawatu the last time we played them. You just keep batting. They will be a massive challenge as they showed the last time we played them. The first day will tell what it's going to be like."
Hampton scored 194 against Hamilton, Joe Carter 187 and Bharat Popli 99 for BOP to win the cup for the fourth time.
Manawatu team: Brynn Cleaver, David Meiring (captain), Mitchell Renwick, Roald Badenhorst, Dane Cleaver, Bevan Small, Arana Noema-Barnett, Adam Milne, Tim Richards, Michael Mason, Navin Patel, Bryn Templeman.
Bay of Plenty: Peter Drysdale, Jono Boult (captain), Joe Carter, Brett Hampton, Bharat Popli, Ben Williams, Tim Clarke, Mitch McCann, Tommy Clout, Dale Swan, Sean Davey, Tom MacRury, Tony Goodin, Corey Anderson.
Sub associations: Western Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Taupo, Eastern Bay of Plenty.