Hawke Cup in Nelson's sights

Nelson's representative cricket team return to Hawke Cup mode tomorrow when they take on Canterbury Country in a two-day warm-up fixture at the Marsden Rec.

Nelson officially open this season's zone 3 Hawke Cup campaign against West Coast the following weekend at Saxton Oval, so are using this weekend's contest against a traditionally competitive Country outfit to help get them back into the two-day groove.

Nelson's representative programme so far has consisted of four limited-overs matches, for a return of three wins and a loss. But a revamped lineup and an acknowledgement of the varying disciplines required for the two-day game will provide a valuable exercise for the side.

Former wicketkeeper-batsman Mitchell Drummond's decision to focus on his rugby career means that Athletic College Old Boys' allrounder Simon McGowan will keep wickets this weekend as the first step towards possibly cementing a long-term gig. McGowan's a useful player with an ability to bat anywhere in the order and bowl medium pace, although it's been a while since he's donned the wicketkeeping gloves at club level.

Allrounder Marty Kain has Central Districts' training commitments this weekend, which gives left-arm spinner Dan Wightman another opportunity. However, Kain is expected to be available for the West Coast match.

Ryan Edwards also returns to the two-day frame after taking no part in last season's Hawke Cup campaign and will open the batting with Dan Cooper.

New Zealand under-19 allrounder Connor Neynens has been selected solely as a batsman for this match as part of his recuperation process from a shin complaint. According to Nelson selection convenor Andrew Cavill, it now gives Nelson's four seamers their chance to contest the three spots available for the West Coast match, when Neynens will return to the bowling attack.

"He's had a few niggles, so I just really want to manage him through and I want to give the four seamers the opportunity because, realistically, you're not going to play four seamers in a Hawke Cup game with Connor there," Cavill said.

With 110 overs available a day at Hawke Cup level, Cavill said it was important to see how the seamers responded to their increased workload.

"The big thing for us is seeing how they come back in spells throughout the day, which has been identified by the selectors, to see if they can come back with the same energy if they've got to bowl three spells in a day."

Nelson qualified for the zone 3 challenge last season, so for Cavill, it was important that the side quickly regain their cohesion ahead of another demanding series.

"It's just an opportunity really to get back into that longer form of the game and try and get that momentum we had last year. The key thing is all the guys standing up really, and not just relying on one or two."

Play starts tomorrow at the Marsden Rec at 10.30am, but will start at 10am on Sunday.

NELSON: Dan Cooper, Ryan Edwards, Greg Hay, BJ Barnett (captain), Connor Neynens, Simon McGowan, Joe O'Connor, Darius Skeaping, Dan Wightman, Marty King, Dylan Eginton.

The Nelson Mail