Hawke's Bay senior men's representative cricket coach, Colin Schaw, is back at the helm for the 2017-18 season but his portfolio has mutated a little.
Schaw is delighted to have another shot at his coaching job now that it's an entity in itself as newly-appointed high performance operations manager Craig Ross has taken over some of the related responsibilities that went with it in previous summers.
"It is very difficult when you get in front of them [players] once a week, for an hour-and-a-half, so you're hoping they are technically more prepared now," he says, considering his job to be more pertaining to preparing them mentally and familiarising them with strategic plans.
Schaw says most other minor associations have fulltime coaches for senior sides so it's a different role but one he enjoys.
He regards Ross' role godsend to free him up for a concerted drive on game days, something which will be tested in the CD inter-district one-day Chapple Cup tournament at Nelson Park, Napier, from October 13-16.
"He's doing a fabulous job concentrating on young guys coming through secondary schools," he says of Ross, who took office in June after crossing the floor from the Central Districts role of director of cricket to arrest the slide of playing numbers in schools.
The Kilbirnie Sports HBCA premier men's three-day Twenty20 tournament will signal the start the season on Friday, September 29, after daylight saving time kicks in at 2am tomorrow.
He says a lot of work has gone into players for the past three weeks so a solid team will be on the cards for the defence of the Chapple Cup again.
Schaw feels last summer the rub of the green didn't go Bay's way after they won the right to challenge for the Hawke Cup, the symbol of minor association cricket supremacy, against Bay of Plenty but came up shy at Mt Maunganui in February.
"We played really good cricket in the Kirk Cup, Chapple Cup and Furlong Cup and got ourselves the opportunity for a challenge," says Schaw. "We looked really good there on the first day and then probably learned a few things on the second and third days but one or two injuries became evident and put us on the backfoot."
He says both he and the players were wiser for the experience.
Under his tutelage, the Bay men had won the Hawke Cup from North Otago two summers ago but had lost it to BOP in Napier in their first challenge.
Schaw says a major achievement was earning eight Bay reps a berth in the CD A side.
"I don't think that's ever been done in Hawke's Bay before so for me that was a rare achievement and how well the team stood up."
Ross says he'll be spearheading the selection process, which is a shift from Schaw selecting with the help of an independent selector as well as 2016-17 captain Jacob Smith.
"Colin's contracted to do the coaching job but he also has a day job so he's a very busy man," he says, revealing he will be privy to all the variables to make a decision on what sort of mind set a team will take to the park on game days.
"Anything we do at the senior level is about planning to win," he says.
The coaches from the six premier men's club teams - Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay, Heretaunga Building Society Cornwall CC, Bayleys Real Estate Havelock North CC, The Station Napier Old Boys' Marist CC, Big Barrell Napier Technical Old Boys CC and You Travel Taradale CC - also will have an input on selections, albeit not in an official capacity.
"I'm just really pleased to have Colin back because he's had a lot of success in his time. The new structure will be very beneficial and he's can go down and concentrate on his job and may have fewer distractions, probably, because of the support that is behind him," he says, adding Schaw is on a one-season contract with provision to resume if both parties are happy.
Ross says the intention is to create a pathway for players to evolve into major association contenders, which is in keeping with the HBCA annual meeting adopting a new four-year strategic plan that champions game development, financial success, leadership and communication, and high performance as its pillars of strength.
Including professional CD Stags (Doug Bracewell, Ajaz Patel and Blair Tickner), the Bay is teeming with talent from their squad of 22 with players such as Matt Edmondson, Liam Dudding and Christian Leopard on the cusp of breaking into coach Heinrich Malan's greater equation.
In the past few years, other CD regions such as Manawatu and Taranaki, have eclipsed the Bay in producing players savvy enough for major association cricket.
"I think it's changing and in the past 12 months or so we're having players like Matt Edmondson really stand up and be noticed.
"Performance wise he's really on his way now for the Stags, I believe."
Cornwall cricket club stalwart John Jowsey has been appointed manager of the Bay senior men's team.
"He's very well organised, knows the game and supports Colin very well."
Former CD and Cornwall player Paul Unwin is back home in Hastings after a stint in Doha, Qatar, and is helping senior spin bowlers in the build-up to the start of the season.
"He's doing a great job and Colin's really appreciating having him there," says Ross, emphasising Unwin's injection also is an example of value added.
The 49-year-old principal left Hawke's Bay more than a decade ago after an illustrious a first-class career in cricket for the Stags (1986-87, 1989-90; 1992-93) and a season with the Canterbury Wizards (1993-94).