Quota question adds spice to opener

The potential inclusion of two overseas players in the North Otago team has added some spice to Southland's Hawke Cup cricket opener against the Oamaru-based team today.

Southland are concerned that South African Stephen Grobler, a fixture in North Otago teams in recent seasons, will be joined by his compatriot Francois Mostert, despite competition rules stating teams can field only one overseas import.

It is a particularly pressing issue for a Southland team that ntsGwhich ntehas had to leave two talented Southland-based Indian players in Invercargill after selecting opening batsman Akash Christian.

''They've named 11, of which two are professional South African players,'' Southland coach Steve Jackson said.

''We don't believe they've got dispensation to play two through New Zealand ntsGcnteCricket, so that's going to be interesting. We don't want to have that playing in the background, we'd sooner focus on the game than the politics behind it.''

Jackson said Southland would remain focused on the game, but may still appeal if North Otago did break the rules.

''If we want to get a Hawke Cup challengentsG,nte then we have to be able to play against guys of this calibre. To me, it's neither here nor there. Rules are rules, pay the price. We aren't going to let other teams play on an uneven field. We are playing within the rules, otherwise I would have two very high quality Indian players going away.''

With Ryan Duffy unavailable because of Otago commitments, Christian had been selected ahead of fellow Southern Institute of Technology student and batsman Amarpreet Singh because of his ability to provide some solidity at the top of the order.

''We are pretty pleased with the way some of our players have been scoring runs in the club season, which in the past few years has been probably lacking,'' Jackson said.

''We are really buoyed by that. Our players have had a few rounds on grass already, the players have had a lot more cricket than last year.''

The unexpected return of former skipper Shaun Fitzgibbon from overseas and the arrival of Sam Ward from Dunedin had helped bolster the team.

The two-day match is being played at Waitaki Boys' High School's Milner Park, rather than the more traditional venue at Centennial Park.

The Southland Times