While finding a winner of the U18 Secondary Schools development Tournament in Whanganui is important, it is not the main aim of the competition.

The tournament that opened the popular annual Whanganui Festival of Cricket was more about naming a central team to compete at a North Island U18 tournament against Auckland, Northern Districts and Wellington in the capital on January 16-20.

Former Wanganui senior women's captain Esther Lanser and coaches of the four teams competing at the Whanganui U18 tournament are responsible for selecting the central team for the upcoming challenge in the capital. Team competing in Whanganui include
Taranaki, Wairarapa, hawkes Bay and Manawatu.

The team selected for central to go to Wellington will go some way to addressing an age group anomaly.


"There has been a missing step in the ladder between U15 and U21 which both have national tournaments," Lanser said yesterday.

"The North Island U18 tournament in Wellington is designed to address that anomaly. The U18s haven't really had a tournament of their own. This inaugural one is being run by a good friend, Irish international Eimear Richardson, so the girls will get something a extra than just a tournament.

"There is a lot of very good all round talent here in Whanganui so it will be difficult naming a central team. Taranaki and Wairarapa have dominated early here in Whanganui and have made the final of the T20 section to be played tomorrow (today), but things could change as other players arrive from the women's one day tournament in Christchurch this week. That may help Hawkes Bay and Manawatu," Lanser said.

Day one on Tuesday was a washout, so to catch up with the least disruption the afternoon 40 over matches were reduced to 30 overs to find the finalists. Today's final, however, will be played in a 40-over format this afternoon following the T20 final between Taranaki and Wairarapa.

Taranaki looked a shoe in to make this afternoon's 40-over final after narrowly beating Wairarapa in yesterday morning's 30-over match. The other finalist was likely to be the winner of yesterday afternoon's clash between Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay that went beyond the Chronicle deadline.

The crown jewel of the festival begins on Monday with the fifth annual New Zealand Under 15 girls competition.

All six associations will be represented, with the Lanser-coached Central Districts the defending champions after an undefeated run last summer.