Pair a little fragile for Hawke Cup

Seam bowlers Dylan Eginton and Darius Skeaping are both under injury clouds as Nelson prepare for this weekend's crucial zone 3 Hawke Cup cricket clash with Marlborough in Blenheim.

Both have been named in Nelson's 12-player lineup, with fellow seamer Marty King and batsman Ricky Edwards also added to the mix for the two-day fixture starting tomorrow at Horton Park.

Eginton suffered a side strain bowling for Nelson in last weekend's outright win over West Coast at Saxton Oval, while Skeaping played only as a fielder after injuring his chest in the previous weekend's outing against Canterbury Country.

King returns to the side following his late withdrawal from last weekend's match with a neck complaint, replacing Dean Hawley, while Edwards joins the side fresh from his 116-run innings for his WTTU club side against ACOB at the Botanics. Nelson only used 11 players against West Coast but under Hawke Cup rules, are allowed to play 12.

However, it's Eginton and Skeaping who are causing Nelson selector Andrew Cavill some concern as they approach this weekend's key clash.

Also in the back of Cavill's mind is the fact that Nelson's in-form top order have been denying Nelson's middle order batsmen any meaningful time in the middle over the past two weeks.

Dan Cooper and Greg Hay each contributed unbeaten innings of 112 last Saturday, with Marty Kain also on fire as Nelson were able to declare at an impressive 310 for one. However, Cavill was preferring to look at the silver lining.

"I suppose in Hawke Cup cricket in the past, we have actually struggled, we've always been one or two down for not very many. So in saying that, it's good that the top order are standing up and getting runs," Cavill said.

"That's the key thing, because if we can get off to good starts, we've got plenty of talent through the middle order, and we bat very low, to be able to, one, set a good total and then, two, put sides under pressure.

"At the end of the day, scoring 310 for one, the guys still have to get in and score them and sometimes the mindset against a lesser side, you can lose a few wickets. The good thing out of that was that we didn't."

An improved West Coast team, though still comprehensively beaten, also provided Nelson's bowling attack with a much tougher second innings than anticipated. Cavill agreed it was a useful workout heading into this weekend's much tougher assignment.

"While there were [West Coast batting] partnerships there, we had to be patient and stick to our guns but I thought the bowling options were a lot better on Sunday, how our bowlers were utilised.

"To stay out there in the middle and work a bit harder and not just have them fall over, was good for us.

"[The West Coast team] was better than it has been in the last couple of years so still to totally dominate them was a real positive for us."

As always though, Marlborough will bring their traditionally formidable rivalry, which Cavill says Nelson will need to overcome.

"Last year's game, when it got rained out, that was pretty even stevens, so we go over there confident. But we have to respect the opposition and just continue to do what we are doing well.

"Our batting's going well, touch wood, we're bowling sides out, we're getting wickets . . . so the all-round performances that we're looking for are starting to happen. But in saying that, we're going to have to go up a level or two from last weekend."

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

MARLBOROUGH: Nick d'Auvergne, Tim Abrahams, Sam Boyce, Chris Gibb, Greg Knowles, Ben McLennan, Sean Neal, Josh Poole, Chris Pope, Ben Stark, Greg Stretch, Matthew Stretch.