High hopes heading south
The Marlborough primary schooldhboys cricket team is ''keen, enthusiastic and ready to go'' to their South Island tournament, Mark Mason says.
This year's tournament begins in Gore on Monday and Marlborough will make the long journey south on Saturday with high hopes.
The performances of captain Tom Sutherland, vice-captain Daniel Allan and all-rounder Caylem Cooke, who return from last year's team, are seen as key to the team's success, especially with the demanding draw they face this year.
Marlborough open their campaign against perennial tough opponents Otago Country, then they have South Canterbury, followed by Dunedin Metro who are always a pre-tournament favourite. The last two days see Marlborough play Christchurch Black, who will be gunning for revenge after Marlborough's upset victory over them two years ago in Invercargill, followed by West Coast on the final day.
''The buildup has been good with games in Upper Hutt, Scargill [against Mid Canterbury] and Nelson,'' Mason said.
''There was also the annual home and away fixtures against Buller which were won very comfortably. The earlier games saw Marlborough get into strong positions but not able to capitalise on the opportunity.''
The team has been practising well and has shown a big improvement in fielding and catching.''
''The bowling is showing a lot of accuracy and will be built around the pace of Cooke and the guile of young leg spinner Tom Sloan backed up by the accurate medium pace quartet of Allan, Danyon Croker, Cameron Horton and Braden Jessop,'' Mason said.
''The batting has looked a bit wobbly at times but openers Adam Bisset and Eddie Ave have usually got the side away with consistent stands of 30 or more. Jakeb Brown and Josh Roche have chimed in with valuable runs when needed while Roche is also showing promise with his off spinners.
Finn Sloan completes the team with his improving wicketkeeping and solid batting. However, a lot dedhpends on Sutherland, Allan and Cooke to fire with the bat,'' Mason said.
The tournament runs from Jandhuary 6ntsG-nte to 10 and is played on grass and artificial wickets
- The Marlborough Express