By Gary Caffell
All-rounder Dean van Deventer, one of the heroes of the impressive nine-wicket win over Horowhenua-Kapiti in Masterton last weekend, will miss the end of Wairarapa senior men's Hawke Cup campaign against Manawatu in Palmerston North on January 26-27. With hauls of 5-22 and 3-39, Van Deventer was the spearhead of a Wairarapa attack which dismissed Horowhenua-Kapiti for 106 and 197.
He also smacked a rapid 42 not out in Wairarapa's first innings of 289.
The inclusion of Van Deventer in the Wairarapa side came after he returned home to Masterton after completing another year of study in Christchurch and he is due to head back down south this week.
Wairarapa selector-coach Sam Curtis readily concedes the absence of Van Deventer will hurt his side against a Manawatu team which will definitely earn themselves a Hawke Cup challenge if they pick up maximum points.
"It's always an advantage to have a bowler with the pace to consistently hurry the batsmen up and Dean has that ability," Curtis said.
"We won't have the same penetration without him, no doubt about that."
The loss of Van Deventer could, however, be good news for Red Star medium pacer Josh Mann who appeals as the logical replacement after his superb form in the latest round of Bidwell Cup games, taking 11 wickets (4-35 and 7-22) and producing knocks of 37 and 53 not out in his side's outright victory over Kuranui Old Boys.
It will be interesting, too, to see if Curtis and fellow selector Brian James keep the remainder of the Wairarapa side intact for the Manawatu match.
Opening batsman Justin Herbert will obviously come under the spotlight after making the dreaded pair last weekend but that was his first appearance at this level this season and the temptation could be to give him at least one more opportunity to come up with the big scores he has produced for Wairarapa College on the club scene.
In Herbert's defence, it could also be argued that even Manawatu won't have a more lethal new ball attack than Horowhenua-Kapiti, who had former Black Cap Ewan Thompson and New Zealand under-19 rep Matt Bacon as part of their line-up.
The main challenger to Herbert would seem to be Rathkeale College's George Deans who didn't exactly set the Thames on fire when tried earlier in the season but who clearly has the promise to shine on the rep scene.
On the bowling front, Curtis and James will probably be tossing up whether to retain medium pacer Harry Greenwood or replace him with Ben Foster who has been something of a regular during the past couple of seasons. Both players can also wield the bat effectively with Greenwood making 126 for Greytown in the last round of Bidwell Cup games.
The fact they had no specialist spinner in their side for the Horowhenua-Kapiti game didn't stop Wairarapa from taking the necessary 20 wickets but this will be another poser for Curtis and James to grapple with leading into the Manawatu game.
The Fitzherbert Park pitch, which is now being prepared by former Queen Elizabeth Park oval groundsman Andy May, has suited spinners in the past and, therefore, the inclusion of the likes of Nash Patel in the Wairarapa side could be a possibility.
The loss of May to Manawatu is seen by Curtis as a big blow for Wairarapa cricket.
"The work he did to improve the park oval strip was amazing, he really knew what he was about. We have a lot to thank him for," Curtis said.
Results from last weekend's zone two matches: Wairarapa 289 and 15-1 beat Horowhenua-Kapiti 106 and 197 outright, Taranaki 293-8 declared and 174-4 declared beat Wanganui 260 and 118 outright, Manawatu 267 beat Hawke's Bay 225 on the first innings.
Points are: Manawatu 31, Hawke's Bay 28, Taranaki 24, Wairarapa 13, Wanganui 8 and Horowhenua-Kapiti 2.
The draw for January 26-27 is: Manawatu v Wairarapa at Palmerston North, Taranaki v Hawke's Bay at New Plymouth, Horowhenua-Kapiti v Wanganui at Levin.
Wairarapa all-rounder Anlo van Deventer, sister of Dean, is a recent addition to the Central Hinds squad contesting the national women's competitions.