The possiblity of a damper wicket and less than the full six sessions to play has seen Unreal Grass Wicket Wanganui move away from spin bowling for their second Furlong Cup game with perennial champions Hawke's Bay on Saturday.
Playing their first home match in the 2019-20 campaign, where they will get the 3-2 split in their favour for the allocation of games, Wanganui have made two changes from the side that just missed out on first innings points against Manawatu a fortnight ago.
Unavailable for the Palmerston North match due to an education assessment in Hamilton, Dominic Lock returns as planned and resumes the captaincy from player-coach Vikum Sanjaya.
Bowling allrounder Chris Sharrock also comes back into the side, being able to bowl spin or tight slow-medium pace, while potentially adding some extra batting prowess to the lower order, where he scored two unbeaten 50's last summer to finish with the team's highest average of 36.20.
After being a little expensive in their combined 21 overs against Manawatu, young spinners Dylan Martin and Joel Clark come out of the squad – Wanganui opting to stick with Connor O'Leary as part of a five-prong pace attack with Sanjaya, Ross Kinnerley, Akash Gill and Akhil Kumar.
"Obviously [Sharrock] is a spin option, and we can always go to the bowling of Mark Fraser," said team manager Andrew Lock.
However, being on an early summer wicket which has seen some wet weather, along with occassional showers being forecast for Sunday, Lock acknowledges this is likely to be a pace bowlers match.
The team most able to get on top for two of the possible six sessions could likely take the most competition points out of the match in the event of rain delays.
"It's green, got grass cover, and it's firming up," said Lock on his inspection of Victoria Park.
"Weather permitting, it will be great, but not so sure about the weather.
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"We'll cope with whatever we can get."
Having the same issue as his team mates of not much club cricket before the representative season got underway, Dominic Lock had been a little concerned about his form with the bat, yet his 60 from 77 balls against Levin Old Boys last weekend will be a confidence booster.
Likewise, Andrew Lock agreed it was important to persist with Sam Sherriff, who despite his lack of runs this season might be only one gritty innings away from recapturing the form which saw him captain Central Districts Under 17's and be named Cricket Wanganui's 2018-19 junior player of the year.
"Absolutely, he's got all the talent in the world, and I'm sure it will come."
Sanjaya has now had some extra time to work with the players since they came in for the Manawatu game, which for a couple of them was the first proper match of the summer.
"He's a positive guy, so that's good. There was a couple away [at training]," said Lock.
Getting plenty of recent game time is Gill, who had Tuesday and Wednesday matches for Central Districts A against Northern Districts A at Taupo's Owen Delaney Park.
However, he is likely to bring back some ominous warnings about the kind of form his-then team mates from Hawke's Bay could be in for this weekend.
In an extraordinary high-scoring opening game, which CD A won by just 18 runs after scoring 419-6, allrounder Christian Leopard smashed an unbeaten 168, to follow up his Hawke's Bay team mate Bayley Wiggins getting a quick-fire 68 at opener.
They then finally bowled ND A out for 401, with Hawke's Bay's Jayden Lennox taking 2-57.
CD A lost the second match by 30 runs after ND A raised 320-9 – Gill taking 2-23 with the ball while Wiggins pulled in four catches.
Leopard then struck 96 with the bat before being dismissed, his team batting out to 290-9.
Hawke's Bay will be desperate to secure an outright victory after their first innings points loss to Taranaki in an exciting two days of cricket at Nelson Park a fortnight ago.
Taranaki bowled the home side out for 119, but Hawke's Bay fought hard to reduce the visitors to 93-8, before the tail put together a decisive ninth wicket partnership to get through to 150 all out for a handy lead.
Hawke's Bay then went out with urgency for their second turn at bat to swiftly raise 234-7 declared, offering Taranaki a tempting 203 for an outright victory.
The bowlers then destroyed the top order to have Taranaki 7-4, and although the middle order desperately tried to shut up shop, the wickets kept falling before they mercifully made it through 44 overs to reach the end of play on 64-7.
Kyle Gardiner took six Taranaki wickets in their first innings and Ben Stoyanoff got a five-for in their second.
Play starts at 10.30am tomorrow.
The Wanganui team is
Dominic Lock (c), Dominic Rayner, Matt Simes (wk), Greg Smith, Sam Sherriff, Mark Fraser, Akash Gill, Akhil Kumar, Ross Kinnerley, Vikum Sanjaya, Connor O'Leary, Chris Sharrock.
* * * * *
Whanganui's Jessica Watkin has retained her place in the CD Hinds team that will start their defence of the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield against the Otago Sparks at Levin's Donnelly Park tomorrow.
The two games with Otago this weekend will be one of just two weekend's the Hinds are on home soil in the 10 round 50 over competition this summer.
Former Wanganui captain Esther Lanser (Wairarapa) is also in the squad.