Nelson set sights on victory

At the risk of getting ahead of itself, the Nelson representative cricket team acknowledges the importance of achieving a maximum points haul in this weekend's opening zone 3 Hawke Cup clash against West Coast at Saxton Oval.

Nelson easily beat West Coast inside a day in their two previous encounters and while no-one's presuming there will automatically be a repeat over the next two days, the team is conscious of taking the opportunities available to them by positively chasing an outright result.

Nelson coach Andrew Cavill said the players were fully aware of the game's significance.

"We've got our goals for the campaign and obviously it starts this weekend and it's imperative we get off to a good start against the Coast and that has to be an outright victory, basically, to put us in good stead going into the game [against Marlborough] the following week."

Allrounder Marty Kain returns to the side after missing last weekend's warmup clash with Canterbury Country due to Central Districts commitments. And while he's been selected in the Stags team to play the Northern Knights in tonight's HRV Cup T20 fixture in Hamilton, he'll be on deck for Nelson tomorrow at Saxton Oval.

Kain replaces fellow left-arm spinner Dan Wightman and with offspinner B J Barnett providing the team's other slow-bowling option and seamers Joe O'Connor, Darius Skeaping and Marty King each getting useful workouts last weekend, the return of Connor Neynens to bowling duties gives the attack a well-balanced look.

Neynens played solely as a batsman against Country and, along with an impressive Greg Hay, anchored a solid Nelson batting effort which again bodes well for the next two days.

Cavill said that, despite inevitable expectations, the team still had to approach the game with the right mindset.

"We spoke about making sure that our processes are right and our individual disciplines are right and that we go into the game with the right attitude and not just thinking that it is going to happen.

"The guys are pretty clear on that and they're pretty focused after last year about where we want to head to this year."

With Mitchell Drummond now out of the equation, Cavill was happy the team's wicketkeeping duties were still in safe hands after Simon McGowan's composed efforts against Country.

"With Mitchell Drummond not being there, we had to look at another option and we've had to reinvent the wheel and give Simon the opportunity and he got that last week and he came through that pretty well to be honest. He wants to do the job, so he gets the opportunity at the moment."

Cavill was also hopeful the new Saxton Oval wicket had benefited from a couple of weeks' rest after being used for the first time in Nelson's successful Newman Shield defence against Marlborough.

"It certainly looks better than the first one we played on. Obviously getting the compaction and the grass cover right has been the key. As long as we see an improvement from that first one, the signs are there that it'll be a really good block."

Play is scheduled to start tomorrow at Saxton Oval at 10.30am.

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

Round four of the Nelson two-day cricket competition resumes tomorrow with only the match between Sprig and Fern Motueka and Taylor's Contracting Wanderers already under way after last Saturday's rain-affected first day.

Motueka ended the day at 101 for 7, with Bryan Krammer unbeaten on 50, in reply to Wanderers' first-innings total of 126 as both teams consider the prospect of an outright result.

Under the competition's playing conditions, outright points are no longer available at the other two venues with Athletic College Old Boys set to host Harrington's Beer Cafe Waimea Toi Toi United at the Botanics and Randles Cafe and Bar Wakatu at home to Car Company Stoke-Nayland at Victory Square. Both matches become first-innings contests, with the two current top sides, Stoke-Nayland and WTTU, looking to consolidate.

The Nelson Mail