Taranaki's chance to turn form around
Taranaki representatives will try to claw their way back into contention for a Hawke Cup challenge later this season when taking on Wairarapa at Pukekura Park this weekend.
The home side needs to put the horrors of their capitulation against Manawatu in the first round behind them and play catch up from now on and rely on results of other games to go their way.
Competition heavyweights Manawatu and Hawke's Bay have both made fliers to the series, picking up the maximum 10 points for outright victories in round one of the Central Districts zone qualifying series.
Taranaki currently sit bottom of the points table on zero with Horowhenua-Kapiti.
"That's the hole we've dug ourselves and now we've got to get out of it," said Taranaki head coach Kerry O'Neill.
It's hardly surprising that O'Neill is expecting to see a big improvement from his side in the batting department this weekend.
"That would be a given," he said, adding he was satisfied with how the bowlers went about their job against Manawatu.
"It's our batting we need to focus on."
Taranaki will he led by former Zimbabwean international Dion Ebrahim this weekend and the lineup includes CD reps Dean Robinson and William Young and debutant Hayden McIntyre.
O'Neill expects the Pukekura Park pitch to be bowler friendly, much like it was for the match against Manawatu.
"It's firmer than it was for the first game, but I think it will still have plenty in it," he said.
It will be a youthful Wairarapa side that Taranaki face this weekend, the province having lost several senior reps over the winter.
Six players who would, under normal circumstances, be in the team are unavailable. . These include player-coach Sam Curtis, who has been a prolific run-maker for the side for more than a decade.
Curtis has a wedding to attend, while promising young allrounder Harry Clinton-Baker has head boy duties at Masterton's Rathkeale College.
The missing players will test the depth of Wairarapa which a number of under-19 players in its mix.
Wairarapa has taken the bulk of the points on offer in their last three encounters against Taranaki so they will fancy their chances of upsetting the home side.
In the opening round of the elimination series, Wairarapa lost the first innings by 90 runs to Wanganui, but managed to bat out the afternoon sessions to draw the match and earn one point.
Curtis said he had heard about Taranaki's capitulation in the first round, but was reading little into the shock loss.
"That's probably a once in a lifetime happening," he said. " Our bowlers are nothing like the Manawatu lineup, most of which have played first class cricket."
The match is scheduled to start at 10.30am.
The teams are:
Revital Fertilisers Taranaki: Dion Ebrahim (capt), Peter Ingram, Dean Robinson, William Young, Tom Bruce, Moritz Hartman, Hayden McIntyre, Jamie Watkins, Josh Barrett, Andrew Mason, Jackson Braddock, Rob McLeod. Coach Kerry O'Neill
Wairarapa: Henry Cameron (capt) Tim Lucas, Sean Jarvis, Joe Hull, Alex Treseder, Ben Foster, Gordon Reisima, Harry Greenwood, Daniel Haxton, Stefan Hook-Sporry, Jock Cameron, Martin Reisima; coach Sam Curtis
Taranaki Daily News