South Canterbury ranks depleted - coach
The South Canterbury cricket team have just four players returning from their Hawke Cup challenge last season to start the side's new campaign against Otago Country at Aorangi Oval today.
Coach Robin Beeby freely admitted "stocks are at their lowest" and he had picked players who were out of form at club level on reputation because "our hand has been forced".
On paper, the side is more notable for the names missing.
Only batsmen James Laming and Glen Drake, all-rounder Sam Carlaw and bowler Craig Hinton return from the side which lost to Bay of Plenty in Rotorua.
Timaru batsman Zane Sanders was 12th man for the match and will play his first game this season for South Canterbury.
Captain Nick Horsley has made himself unavailable for family reasons with Laming assuming the captaincy, while the Temuka duo of Ritchie Preston and Johnny Geddis are also unavailable with the latter potentially unavailable for the entire campaign.
Hopes of having former Timaru Boys' High School and Canterbury Wizards bowler Ben McCord available were dashed on Wednesday night.
Beeby and selector John Davies, as well as McCord himself, believed he was playing until New Zealand Cricket said in an email he was not eligible because he had not been in the region for 30 days and no longer had family ties to South Canterbury.
The one notable inclusion is Jack Harper.
The top-order batsman, has not played in South Canterbury since he made 107 in a drawn Tweedy Cup final for Star in March of 2011, in a one-off appearance following the Christchurch earthquake.
Roncalli's Adam Beck will take the wicket-keeping gloves after attempts to contact regular keeper Rory Lorimer, who is in the armed forces, were unsuccessful.
Andrew Buckingham was a late withdrawal, after his wife went into labour yesterday afternoon, which meant Star's Danny Campbell with a late opportunity.
Curtly Slatter beat out Will Watts for the overseas player's spot.
Slatter is one of six Hawke Cup debutants in the team.
Beeby said he needed the experienced heads of Carlaw and Laming to perform with the bat, while the out-of-form Zane Sanders is also a key to bolster the lower-middle order.
Beeby said he was disappointed to lose Preston and Geddis so close to the game.
"There are a lot of new faces," Beeby said. "It's surprising after a Hawke Cup challenge last year - you'd think players would be keen.
"If this was a decade ago (previous challenge), I'm sure they would have been lining up to get involved."
The first ball is scheduled for 10.30am.
HOW THEY LINE UP
South Canterbury: James Laming (c), Curtly Slatter, Jack Harper, Glen Drake, Sam Carlaw, Zane Sanders, Adam Beck, Craig Hinton, Nathan McNicol, James Blackstock, Danny Campbell. Otago Country team: Fraser Wilson (c), Miichael Goldstein, Ross Anderson, Jarred Andrew, Adam Hubber, Mark Knox, Sam Blakely, Eric Standfield, Cameron Fawlkner, Sean Windle, Chris Beck, Max Collett (one to be ommitted)
The Timaru Herald