Ask Dominic Thompson if Nelson Park will be a win-toss, bat-first piece of prime real estate when the Chapple Cup tournament begins in Napier this morning and it's hard to miss that momentary pause in his response.
"Ahh ... we'll wait until we get to the ground, I think, to see what we're more confident doing and go from there," says Thompson who will captain the Hawke's Bay senior men's representative team before the annual Central Districts cricket tourney begins to determine who will claim the bragging rights to the symbol of one-day format supremacy in its far flung catchment area.
The bat/pad riposte is understandable because the 23-year-old knows only too well when you assume the mantle of captaincy you give up the right to voice an individual opinion — before the Pay Excellence-sponsored side face defending champions Taranaki on park No 3.
Thompson has been around the cricketing traps long enough to comprehend the collective interest reigns supreme even though it is a game where players live and die on their individual contributions during their campaign, which includes the two-day, red-ball Furlong Cup-qualifying rounds to earn the right to challenge for the Hawke Cup — the symbol of minor association cricket supremacy in the country.
Coach Dave Castle had asked Thompson to lead the side after regular skipper Jacob Smith withdrew due to injury on the eve of the winning but rain-marred round two Furlong Cup clash on the road against Whanganui last weekend.
The graduate accountant at Findex, who skippers the Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay premier men's club team, will be mindful teammates will act on his command he can't let emotions creep into his voice despite the tendency to be primal and spontaneous on the field during the 50-over games over three days in a knockout format where this year the names have been drawn out of the hat rather than based on seedings.
"It's something I've been doing for CHB in, I think, my third season now so I'm used to it but to have the opportunity to do it for Hawke's Bay was something I'm really honoured to do," he says.
Thompson, in his fifth season — on and off but more regular in the past two summers — says the main difference between CHB and the Bay is the two-day format.
"You look forward to being a bit more patient to let the bowlers do their thing to get batsmen out when attacking on the field but when you have the bowlers we do it can make your job easier."
Thompson says watching Innovate Electrical batsman Matt Edmondson carve up his third double century for the Bay at Victoria Park last Saturday had certainly made his job easier.
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The Otago University commerce degree graduate says this weekend the white-ball, limited overs format pits them against Taranaki first up, a side that defeated them here in the first up Furlong Cup clash.
"I don't think that really bothers us because if you're wanting to win then you have to beat every team so it doesn't matter when you draw them."
Rewriting last year's five-wicket loss in the Chapple Cup final to Taranaki also becomes a catalyst for the Bay men in a do-or-die affair that demands more attention than in previous seasons.
Thompson was on holiday when the Bay succumbed to Taranaki in the Furlong Cup earlier this month. He put the loss down to a lack of patience rather than anything the traditionally flat wicket does here.
The former Lindisfarne College pupil bats in the middle order and is a wicketkeeper but hands the gloves over to colleague Edmondson.
He has carved two centuries for the Bay senior men — against Bay of Plenty and Whanganui.
Hawke's Bay will welcome back Reynard Health Supplies batsman Bradley Schmulian and NTOB tweaker Jayden Lennox not required for the CD Stags' round two one-day Ford Trophy match against the Auckland Aces at Eden Park outer oval yesterday.
"It obviously great to have those quality guys coming back for us but it's probably disappointing for them they aren't playing at the higher level so, hopefully, they can put up a few good performances for us to get up there again," he says.
In other opening round matches from 11am today, Horowhenua-Kapiti face Nelson on the No 2 wicket, Manawatu take on Marlborough on No 5 while Whanganui play Wairarapa on No 1.
The winners will gravitate to one side of the competition while the losers will drop to the other from tomorrow.
Dominic Thompson (c, CHB), William Clark (Havelock North), Matt Edmondson (NTOB), Kyle Gardiner (CHB), Luke Kenworthy (Taradale), Jayden Lennox NTOB), Angus McKnight (Taradale), Kieran Noema-Barnett (NTOB), Angus Schaw (CHB), Bradley Schmulian (Havelock North), Ben Stoyanoff (Taradale), Todd Watson (NTOB), Bayley Wiggins (Cornwall).