Riverview Motel Wanganui cricket selector Drew Morrison had a solid pool to draw from to build on a relatively successful campaign last season.
Morrison has named his initial representative team for the 2020/21 Furlong Cup campaign. The winner of the Furlong Cup earns the right to a Zone 2 Hawke Cup challenge against the Hawke Cup holder, Hawke's Bay.
The team includes a number of regulars from previous years and newcomer, United's John Beale, who impressed last season with his nippy medium pacers, athleticism in the field and handy contributions with the bat.
The only other newcomer is Whanganui Collegiate's Shaun O'Leary. The promising Year 12 student is fresh from two hundreds for his school side, including his skillful 173 not out against Marist in the Coastal Challenge last weekend. He is also a tidy medium fast bowler who also hurried up some of his Marist opponents despite his side's heavy loss. However, he has not been named in the team for the opening match of the representative season against Manawatu at Victoria Park this weekend.
The squad has lost its three quality overseas allrounders from last year when Wanganui had one of its most successful campaigns in recent times.
Despite those three losses, the team can still call on current Central Districts' rep Ben Smith. Smith has played a large amount of first-class cricket and scored a memorable 240 not out for Wanganui vs Taranaki last season. As usual his availability will be dependent on his Central Districts' commitments. Smith is available this weekend.
Now at the veteran stage, Mark Fraser has scored successive centuries for his Marist club and remains a very dangerous player who will be respected and feared by the other associations.
This season Sport Whanganui's Ross Kinnerley has assumed the player/coach role. Over the past 10 seasons he has fashioned an impressive record as the leader of the Wanganui attack with his name now challenging the iconic Eric Head on the Victoria Park honours board.
Dominic Lock will again return from Hamilton to lead the side on the field.
The promising Sam Sheriff will be motivated to become a senior player in the side and push for higher honours later in the season.
A large amount of winter work has gone into restoring the Victoria Park wickets back to their former glory when they were known to be genuinely fast and saw the ground host the touring English and Zimbabwean sides. The initial signs are that the work has been successful.
The side begin their season with a tough first up assignment against the traditionally strong Manawatū side. Play starts at 10.30 am on Saturday with the underdog Wanganui side looking to show grit and determination on their home track.
A number of potential players have not been considered due to injuries, work and university commitments. It is expected that a number of players will be promoted to the squad through strong club performances throughout the long rep season which concludes with a match against Horowhenua Kapiti on February 13/14.
Wanganui's Chapple Cup campaign begins with Marlborough at Donnelly Park in Levin on Friday, November 20.
Player/coach Ross Kinnerley feels comfortable in his new dual role and doing what he enjoys – developing young players.
"It's a role I have experience in and something I love doing," Kinnerley said.
"We have a few younger lads and a couple of older players to work with this season – it's a good little mix. And it's also always good to have Ben [Smith] available. He scored a double hundred and a hundred last season and he's all class."
The team to play the opening match of the season against Manawatū is:
Max Carroll (United)
Matt Simes (Victoria University)
Ben Smith (Marist and Central Districts)
Sam Sheriff (Feilding Old Boys)
Mark Fraser (Marist)
Dominic Lock (Tech)
Chris Stewart (Marist)
Ross Kinnerley (Marist – player/coach)
Chris Sharrock (United)
John Beale (United)
Fraser Kinnerley (Marist)
Connor O'Leary (Marist