The variables of wickets at Nelson Park, Napier, when juxtaposed with that of Victoria Park, Whanganui, have been the centre of some brainstorming for the Hawke's Bay senior men's representative cricket team this week.

"It's quite a different environment to Nelson Park," says Craig Ross, the interim coach of the Pay Excellence-sponsored team who play away today in the penultimate round of the two-day Furlong Cup qualifying match to earn the right to challenge from the Central Districts region for the Hawke Cup, the symbol of national supremacy in minor association cricket.

Ross, who is at the helm after regular coach Colin Shaw was sacked just before Christmas, says the Victoria Park pitch stays lower and slower compared to the bouncy Nelson Park one.

Consequently enter another spinner Jayden Lennox to boost the tweaking stocks for the Bay who are sitting a point below leaders Taranaki despite beating them ouright in the previous round.

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The other spinners are GC Pretorius and CHB teammate Angus Schaw while CD batsman Bradley Schmulian also is capable of rolling his arm.

"Quite a few of our boys were involved in the CD A team so they needed to have a break earlier in the week," says Ross after just one session of training this week.

He says the Bay batsmen had focused on playing the ball pretty close to them at training on Wednesday night.

"We know Wanganui can be very tough at home."

The hosts have opening batsman Ben Smith in their line up after the return of George Worker to the Stags mix from the Black Caps.

Ross says for Bay captain Jacob Smith and his troops it's imperative to take each session, or even half a session, at a time, something the new bonus structure of the competition encourages.

"When you look at the balance of the team we could have taken an extra batter, extra pace bowler or spinner."

The Bay batting depth is good but the trick to claim maximum points, he says, is taking 20 wickets.

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Liam Dudding and Charlie Robson are injured while Stevie Smidt needs to increase his load after holidays.

WHANGANUI: Ben Smith, Thomas Walshe, Dominic Rayner, Greg Smith, Chris Stewart, Simon Badger (c), Mark Fraser, Matthew Simes, John McIlraith, Ross Kinnerley, Nick Harding, Trent Hemi.

Coach: Warren Marr.
Manager: Justin Lock.

HAWKE'S BAY: Jacob Smith (c, Cornwall), Matt Edmondson (NTOB), James Field (Havelock North), Dean Foxcroft (Taradale), Jayden Lennox (NTOB), GC Pretorius (CHB), Liam Rukuwai (NTOB), Angus Schaw (CHB), Bradley Schmulian (Havelock North), Ben Stoyanoff (Taradale), Graeme Tryon (Havelock North), Luke Wright (Taradale).

Coach: Craig Ross.
Manager: John Jowsey.
Scorer: Neil Jackett.