Wanganui relying on youth

By Jared Smith,

Wanganui are younger and in their own way older while up against neighbours desperate to finish them off quickly at Victoria Park today for their penultimate Hawke Cup cricket game.

In a side which lacks for veterans like Brett Turner and former captain Andrew McCaa, manager Andrew Lock is now relying on his youthful combinations to at least repeat their effort against Manawatu in December and hold out for two days against an imposing Taranaki team.

Two of their key young men could be old before their time tired after intense midweek cricket in Wellington.

As of yesterday Lock had not even decided on a captain as few are "over the age of consent" a meeting among the senior group will see who puts their hand up this morning.

While Taranaki may have famously capitulated against Manawatu in November, they have since grown as an outfit.

In picking up a first innings win against against Horowhenua-Kapiti in Levin in December, they set a record opening partnership of 342 between Peter Ingram (201 n.o.) and Dean Robinson (126 n.o.).

Facing them is a Wanganui side which other than a small 30s brigade of Mark Fraser and Dominic Rayner, counts Max Carroll in his early 20s and the remainder an Under-21 team in drag.

After returning from England to play one game for United, Travis Bartels comes into the team, while the other newcomer is Callum Coker, a left-handed batsman who has been playing in Scotland.

Key to Wanganui's performance will be paceman Nick Blundell and batsman Henry Collier, who are back after representing Central Districts Under-19 in Wellington midweek.

'They'll either be right into it or be buggered," said Lock of his two stars.

"I imagine they gave Nick as much overs as possible."

Of the rest, few have had any game time since the last Hawke Cup encounter, excepting those United players who were heavily beaten by New Plymouth's Marist United in the interclub game before Christmas.

Many have been fitting individual training around helping out in various roles at the Wanganui Cricket Festival over the last week.

Brett Cameron showed good form batting during the Under 16 tournament, which Wanganui won, although Lock felt that as senior preparation goes it simply cannot compare.

"I would bet that level is atrocious, although in a way that also makes it hard to score.

"He's showed that's why he's the class in the Under-16 grade across the North Island."

Taranaki need an outright win to keep their faint hopes of winning a Hawke Cup challenge alive.

Coach Kerry O'Neill said they were focused on getting 20 wickets in two days, although on Wanganui's flat track that would prove decisively difficult.

That pitch saw some overnight rain on Friday morning, but other than that has been baking for two weeks it was not used on the final day of the festival's Under-15-17 girls tournament.

Taranaki's batting line-up looks very strong with Ingram and Robinson at the top of the order backed up by Dion Ebrahim, James McDougall and Tom Bruce.



Wanganui: Nick Blundell, Brett Cameron, Max Carroll, Callum Coker, Henry Collier, Mark Fraser, Trent Hemi, Morgan Innes, Dominic Lock, Dominic Rayner, Kane Watkin.

Taranaki: Dion Ebrahim (captain), Peter Ingram, Dean Robinson, James McDougall, Tom Bruce, Moritz Hartman, Ryan Watson, Jamie Watkins, Douglas Hondo, Rob Northcott, Jackson Braddock-Pajo (wicketkeeper), Rob McLeod.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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