Batting lifts hopes in Hawke Cup
Southland Hawke Cup coach Steve Jackson says his team are after outright points against North Otago this weekend, and suggests it is vital in their quest to win the southern zone section.
Southland will meet North Otago at Queens Park in Invercargill in their third fixture in the five-team southern zone series.
Jackson's men suffered a first innings loss to Otago Country in their first outing before beating South Canterbury on first innings in their latest game.
North Otago have had a mixed campaign to date, losing outright to South Canterbury before bouncing back and upsetting Otago Country with an outright win of their own a fortnight ago.
Jackson believed outright points over North Otago would put them a strong position heading into their final match against Mid Canterbury in Invercargill.
The winner of the southern zone section will challenge for the Hawke Cup, now held by Bay of Plenty.
Outright points were crucial, Jackson said yesterday.
"If we only get a first innings win it only puts us up to where the top teams are now and they'll all be playing."
For the first time in recent seasons Southland will head into this Hawke Cup game with plenty of excitement about their batting stocks.
Batting had been their Achilles heel, but of late there has been some real progress made in that department.
They racked up 458 for five declared in 108 overs against South Canterbury in their last outing, which included Ryan Meyer becoming just the third Southland player to score a double hundred.
Captain Jason Domigan also scored a century as the Invercargill-Old Boys clubmates put on 269 for the fourth wicket.
On top of this, opener Ryan Duffy has been in sublime form of late, which includes scoring 159 for his club team, Metro, on Saturday before backing it up with an unbeaten 115 for Otago A against Tasmania A on Wednesday.
"For Ryan to score a very aggressive club hundred, but then a very disciplined Otago A hundred, you know, it shows he's got it all really," Jackson said.
"He can play a vital role whether you're chasing or whether you're just getting set.
"It really shows the progress he's made and it's great having players in form coming into a Hawke Cup game."
Wicketkeeper-batsman Hamish O'Brien has also had a good lead-in to this weekend's Hawke Cup fixture, coming off an intense fortnight of cricket.
He played for Otago at the national under-19 tournament and this week has been playing for Otago A against Tasmania A.
Meanwhile, Southland senior clubs face a test of their depth tomorrow as they chase a win in the one-day competition minus their Hawke Cup representatives.
With four rounds to go before the play-offs, the competition is heating up.
Invercargill-Old Boys and Metro Tigers are the hardest-hit, having four players each in the 12-man Southland team named for this weekend.
In the Combined Country competition tomorrow, competition leaders Waikoikoi will have a crack at taking the Challenge Shield from current holders the Metro Cubs.
The Challenge Shield is up for grabs whenever the holders play at home.
The Southland Times