Northland's cricketers have high expectations going into their three one-day matches in Taupo, starting tomorrow, knowing the games could well set the tone for their season.
Captain Neal Parlane said the team showed what was possible with a good win over a talented Auckland side two weeks ago and that had raised hopes within the group of a good season ahead.
"If we can come away with three wins, and there's no reason why we can't, then we'll know we're on for a real big summer," he said.
The pre-season was behind them and now Northland had to show consistency if they wanted to be the top provincial team in the Northern Districts competition.
They start with their toughest challenge tomorrow against a good Bay of Plenty side who always hover around the top of the competition.
"They're usually one of the strongest teams, with good young players and a couple of odd ND reps still in the picture, so we'll have to play to our potential to beat them," Parlane said.
Northland will field a strong line-up with the side all getting through training without mishaps.
Kaipara Flats paceman Matt Taylor and Onerahi Central's Dewayne Bowden return to the side after missing the Auckland game, giving Parlane new-ball options to partner the in-form Kevin Forde.
Their batting is potentially the strongest it's been for years, with the Parlane brothers bolstering what is a promising bevy of youngsters such as Ben Hyde, Brad Kneebone and Henry Cooper.
The team travel to Taupo today, except for Bowden, who is contracted to play club cricket before he joins the team.
The game is followed by matches against Waikato Valley and Poverty Bay on Monday and Tuesday respectively, all games at Owen Delany Park.
Northland squad: Neal Parlane, Michael Parlane, Brad Kneebone, Henry Cooper, Ben Hyde, Joe O'Sullivan, Dewayne Bowden, Matt Taylor, Michael O'Flaherty, Harry Darkins, Kevin Forde, Kurtley Watson, Rory Christopherson, Cody Andrews. Coach: Stephen Cunis.