It's only for one match but Bradley Schmulian is immensely proud to wear the stripes for the marquee provincial men's cricket team in Napier this weekend.
Schmulian will captain the Pay Excellence Hawke's Bay senior men's representative side in round four of the Furlong Cup clash against Wairarapa United at Nelson Park in the two-day, red-ball affair to earn the right to challenge for the symbol of minor cricket association supremacy, the Hawke Cup.
"It's a fantastic achievement," says the 28-year-old top-order batsman who has loyally served the province for three seasons since arriving to play for the Reynard Health Supplies Havelock North premier men's club side from Auckland.
"I love being part of the group and I already have some very fond memories. I'm probably going to be a captain for just one game but I regard it as pretty good achievement and something I'm very proud of."
The Central Districts Stags batsman, who scored a double century on his Plunket Shield debut last summer, assumes the mantle of leadership because regular skipper Jacob Smith and Angus Schaw are unavailable due to family commitments this weekend.
Schmulian, who was part of the side who won the Furlong Cup in his first season but lost the challenge to Bay of Plenty in February 2017, also has captained a premier club team in Auckland as well as the Auckland A side and, more recently, CD A in two-day games.
He believes the responsibility leads to good things for him in moulding a solid template as a cricketer.
"I can get more involved in the game and communicate with the bowlers but I'm looking at more responsibility rather than just to stay on the field and not be as much as I can be."
Clubmate Harry Young comes into the squad with former rep batsman Izaiah Lange, from Innovative Electrical Napier Technical Old Boys.
The 19-year-old will open batting in place of Smith, having established a reputation for accruing runs for the HB Mavericks (2nd side).
Young scored a century against their Taranaki counterparts and 70 in another Mavericks match a fortnight ago.
"He's a fearless, right-handed batsman and it's a big ask for him to open in this game but we have good method in place with the second team feeding the top team so he's performed really, really well in the past 15 to 18 months for the Mavericks team - it's the right thing to promote him while he's performing," says Schmulian.
He says Lange has shown good stability in the middle order to warrant a recall.
"It's definitely the goal to win the Furlong Cup [this year] to get another challenge," he says after a hiccup before Christmas when they lost on the first innings to Horowhenua-Kapiti.
The Dave Castle-coached Bay side will look to keep retain their momentum when play starts at 10.30am after an emphatic outright victory over Taranaki a fortnight ago at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth.
Schmulian says the result had marked the end to a 32-year drought against Taranaki as they leapfrogged Manawatu to secure a three-point lead in the Furlong Cup race.
The Neil Perry-coached Wairarapa are missing batsmen Liam Burling (injury), Mark Childs (considering retirement), Robbie Speers (unavailable) and all-rounder Jaco Vorster (work).
■ Hawke's Bay: Brad Schmulian (c, Havelock North), Liam Dudding (Cornwall), Matt Edmondson (w, NTOB), Joey Field (Havelock), Izaiah Lange (NTOB), Jayden Lennox (NTOB), Christian Leopard (NTOB), Ben Stoyanoff (Taradale), Dominic Thompson (CHB), Todd Watson (NTOB), Bayley Wiggins (Cornwall), Harry Young (Havelock).
■ Wairarapa: John McKenzie, Robbie Anderson, Gus Borren, Patrick Gluck, Gordon Reisima, Daniel Ingham (c), Jack Forrester (w), Ethan Childs, Anthony Sprouson, Quinn Childs, Pete Sigvertsen, and Jared Watt.