Brock Price will feature in the middle order for Wairarapa this weekend. PHOTO/FILE

JAKE BELESKI

jake.beleski@age.co.nz

It’s often easier said than done, but seeing off the new ball will be the key for Wairarapa when they play Hawke’s Bay in a Furlong Cup cricket match this weekend.

The match will be played over Saturday and Sunday at Queen Elizabeth Park, Masterton.

Coach Neil Perry said the last matches where they enjoyed success were due to their top order batsmen doing the job at the beginning of the innings.

That starts with openers Choi Jackson and debutant John McKenzie, with Liam Burling, Brock Price and Robbie Speers making up the middle order.

“The last couple of times we played in Hawke Cup and managed to get a good start, we scored over 300, including against Hawke’s Bay,” Perry said.

“We’ve got people who can bat and contribute, but it’s a tough ask if you’re 20-4 when the new ball does things — we have people who can express themselves and they need to go on once they get in.”

The bowling aspect should be more straightforward, and the Wairarapa attack has plenty of variety to it.

“Stefan (Hook) and Dan (Ingham) have bowled really well, and we’ve got Jared (Watt) who’s very reliable, and Quinn (Childs) who’s bowling superbly,” Perry said.

“Then we’ve got Simon (Clinton-Baker) who’s a useful left-arm spinner, and we have a couple of options beyond there if we need them.”

As well as batting and bowling, teams are also assessed on their ability in the field, and Perry was sure that would throw up some unanswered questions.

Players may be asked to spend a lot more time in the field than they would in club cricket, and that in itself was a challenge.

“Our fielding is usually pretty good — the only issues tend to be when we’re spending considerable amounts of time in the field which we’re not used to.

“It’s about whether we can maintain those standards with the ball and in the field for 30, 40 or 50 overs, and more.

“Club games don’t go that long, so it can be very difficult to replicate.”

Perry said sides like Hawke’s Bay were always a handful, and Wairarapa had found in the past that they could play extremely well against the bigger sides and still not get the result.

There was little point worrying about that, and it was important to focus on what they could control, he said.

“We believe we’ve got a side that’s capable of competing, we just need to go out there and perform.

“As long as we do what we can do well then we will come away happy.”

Perry said they had avoided placing too much emphasis on what Hawke’s Bay would bring to the match, and were more concerned with their own preparations.

But he was well aware of the different threats any Hawke’s Bay team would pose.

“We know they’ll have two or three spinners in there, and two or three pace bowlers who will bowl back of a length and be consistent just outside off stump.

“And they’ll have players who can score runs.”

In the next few weeks Wairarapa will also play Taranaki, Manawatu, Horowhenua-Kapiti and Whanganui, with the top team awarded a Hawke Cup challenge.

Perry said Hawke Cup cricket was a long way off, but not out of reach.

“We want to play the best cricket every game and see where we get to.

“We know that to get a Hawke Cup challenge is a huge ask, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it.”

Wairarapa squad: Choi Jackson, John McKenzie, Liam Burling, Brock Price, Robbie Speers, Dan Ingham, Simon Clinton-Baker, Jack Forrester, Stefan Hook, Quinn Childs, Quincey Stephens, Jared Watt.