Buller clash won't be a walkover
Golden Edge Nelson Griffins coach Garry MacDonald is certain his players know the threat that Buller pose, as Nelson prepare to kickstart their Hawke Cup zone elimination series at Saxton Oval this weekend.
Although Nelson comfortably beat Buller last season, it's only a few short years ago that Buller upset Nelson with a first-innings win, also at Saxton Oval.
And it's only a matter of weeks since Buller had Marlborough struggling at 131 for 6 in their Hawke Cup clash at Westport, before the game was abandoned due to rain after just 51.4 overs.
MacDonald also coached two of Buller's key players - captain and leading batsman Troy Scanlon, and Andrew Duncan - at the Lancaster Park club in Christchurch many seasons ago, with former Athletic College Old Boys and Nelson player Clinton Harvey also part of this weekend's Buller lineup.
Former Marlborough representative Greg Knowles is now also with Buller.
MacDonald has been at pains to impress on his players the need to execute their game plan over the next two days, to avoid becoming an early-season casualty.
"They're not going to be a walk-up beating, and we had a good talk at training about it.
"I said, ‘These sort of games bring their own pressures, because you're expected to win and win well, and you have a team that's going to come here and is just not going to lay down'.
"We're going to have to do things right or they may just make it very difficult."
There's been some disruption to the Nelson camp, however, with Wanderers seamer Hayden Ingham set to make his representative debut before injuring his groin at Tuesday's training.
The leading wicket-taker in this season's Nelson club competition had been a popular and deserved selection, but failed a final fitness test yesterday morning.
MacDonald had intended giving Ingham a run to help test the depth of his squad, with a view to playing his top lineup the following weekend against Marlborough.
However, Ingham's unavailability means that Jon Routhan returns to the side as the extra seamer, leaving MacDonald lamenting Ingham's bad luck.
"I'm absolutely gutted for the guy that he can't play, I really am," said MacDonald.
"I watched him in the two-day final [against WTTU] at Jubilee [Park], and he bowled a couple of big spells, lion-hearted spells. I thought, ‘Gee, you've got a big ticker' and pretty reliable, and he just does not give up.
"We want tough buggers in this team, and he fits the mould perfectly."
Still, it's a handy-looking Nelson team, despite the absence of Central Stags left arm spinner Marty Kain and Central Districts under-17 allrounder Josh Clarkson.
"We've got most contingencies covered, I think," MacDonald said.
"We've got Greg Hay and Matt Macquet coming back in on Friday night, and they've been with the Stags A team, so hopefully they'll be match fit and ready to go."
With both Kain and Clarkson due to return for the Marlborough game, offspinner Luke Toynbee and left-armer Dan Wightman will handle the spin bowling duties this weekend, with Joe O'Connor, Routhan, Macquet and allrounder Dan Grimes the seam options.
Play is scheduled to start at Saxton Oval tomorrow at 10.30am.
NELSON: Ryan Edwards (captain), Dan Cooper, Simon McGowan, Greg Hay, Matt Macquet, Ricky Edwards, Joe O'Connor, Dan Wightman, Luke Toynbee, Dan Grimes, Jon Routhan.
BULLER: Troy Scanlon (captain), Andrew Duncan, Greg Knowles, Craig Adams, Michael Grafton, Frano Volckman, Jesse Elley, Troy Adams, Michael Anderson, Matthew Ansley, Clinton Harvey, Max McDonald.
The first round of the Car Company Nelson one-day competition will also be played tomorrow, with Car Company Stoke-Nayland hosting WTTU at the Marsden Rec, Sprig and Fern Motueka at home to Taylor's Contracting Wanderers at Memorial Park, and Waimea Toi Toi United at home to RWCA Athletic College Old Boys at Jubilee Park.
The Nelson Mail