Chapple Cup should provide some much wanted game time
A reasonable weather forecast, coupled with a number of players coming off a busy off-season, has Taranaki cricket coach Debu Banik in a positive frame of mind ahead of the Chapple Cup.
The annual Central Districts one-day competition starts in Napier on Friday with Taranaki having drawn Marlborough for the first round match.
The weather forecast for Napier is fine for the next three days which will be a stark contrast for the 13-man Taranaki squad who head across the North Island having no cricket locally under their pads.
That follows last week's wash out of the opening round of the premier one-day competition last Saturday while Banik's attempts to get a pre-season match organised with Wanganui and Onslow Cricket Club also fell over.
Not that Banik was to concerned on the eve of their departure.
"A number of the boys have played a lot of cricket in England in the last few months so they should be fine," he said.
That group included captain Mattie Thomas, James McDougall, Ryan Watson and Liam Muggeridge who should all be expected to play the three matches scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
A number of players are unavailable for Taranaki, including Will Young and Tom Bruce who are in India with New Zealand A, former Central Districts rep Dean Robinson is still in England while wicket-keeper Jackson Braddock-Pajo has only just returned from overseas.
The latter's exclusion will see Woodleigh's Phil Barraclough take the gloves while there is also a recall for club-mate Moriz Hartmann.
The top of the Taranaki batting order wold feature Shaun Sullivan, Ryan Fleming and Josh Borrell before James McDougall and Kaylum Boshier come in while the seam attack will include Watson, Taylor Williams and Tom McDougall.
Marlborough's selectors have named a side heavy in medium pacers and allrounders for the trip north.
Former Black Caps left-arm paceman Ben Wheeler has been named in the side as a batsman only at this stage and he, along with keeper Ma'ara Ave, Lamb, Poole, Arthavidu and Stretch, will be expected to provide the bulk of the runs.
All eight teams start on equal footing on Friday, the four winners going on to contest the Chapple Cup semifinals, the losers dropping down to the Cave Cup section. Nelson meet Horowhenua Kapiti, Hawke's Bay play Wairarapa and Manawatu clash with Wanganui in the other matches.
Taranaki: Mattie Thomas (c), Josh Borrell, Phil Barraclough, James McDougall, Kaylum Boshier, Aaron Taylor, Moriz Hartmann, Shaun Sullivan, Liam Muggeridge, Ryan Watson, Tom McDougall, Taylor Williams, Ryan Fleming.