Valley looking to extend lead over Wairau
Criterion Hotel Wairau Valley can put themselves in the box seat to win the round-robin part of the SBS Bank McQueen Cup Marlborough senior two-day championship, when they face Grove Tavern Wairau in a top-of-the-table round four clash at Horton Park tomorrow.
After struggling most of last season, the news is better so far this year for Valley (35 points) as they find themselves five points ahead of Wairau at the top of the standings, with three more round-robin matches to go. And while it would not guarantee them a spot in the final, a first innings or outright victory on the No 1 ground would take Valley well within reach of an elusive spot in the title decider.
Valley skipper Tim Abrahams has made four changes to his XI but, if anything, his side has a stronger look about it. Allrounder Simon Muir is unavailable, while Chris McMurtrie, Michael Dillon and Josh Tautari have missed selection.
The return of opening bowler Mark Gear offsets the loss of Muir, with teenagers Zac Harrison-Jones and Leo Adendorff and English import Grant Goodwin filling the other voids.
Coming back from injury, left-arm seamer Adendorff may bowl a few overs but is playing primarily as a batsman, while top-order bat/left-arm spinner Goodwin is set to make his Marlborough senior debut.
Wairau captain Nick d'Auvergne was able to confirm two changes yesterday from their round-three clash against Celtic but one or two more are likely. Young opening batsmen Fraser McIntosh is unavailable and has been replaced by former rep opener Marty Vercoe, while Mike Hood comes in for Marty Campbell, who has headed back overseas. Wairau had Celtic on the ropes at 62-5 when last week's matches ended early and will be looking to carry that momentum into tomorrow's encounter.
Meanwhile, there is plenty to play for on the No 2 ground as Biddy Kates Celtic square off against Guthrie Bowron Renwick.
Defending champions Celtic sit at the bottom of the table on 12 points, while Renwick have just 14 points and both teams need a positive result to put themselves back in contention for the final.
Renwick were in a strong position at 145-3 after 35 overs when their game against Valley was called off last week and, with just one change likely, will take some much-needed confidence into the contest with Celtic. Opening bowler Grant Herd is set to return.
Celtic are also expected to make just one change, with - Tom Argyle, who has returned for the holidays from university, replacing injured seamer Ben Blackman.
Argyle boosts their top-order batting stocks, although the loss of Blackman will place a bigger load on the shoulders of captain Ben McLennan and other seamers Gareth Weaver, Tim Warner and Michael Daines.
The Marlborough Express