By Gary Caffell
Who would have thought the Wairarapa Korus will be going into their last match in the 2016 Central District inter-provincial women’s cricket competition against Whanganui at Whanganui on Sunday with the opportunity to end their campaign as the holders of the Copeman Challenge Trophy?
This is the trophy which is up for grabs each time the holder plays a match against teams involved in this particular competition and Wairarapa got their hands on it for the first time when they scored a shock win over Hawke’s Bay in their latest appearance.
Hawke’s Bay went into the game as the warmest of favourites after having gone four seasons without defeat but the Korus ended that impressive record in spectacular fashion, thrashing them by 113 runs.
Considering that Whanganui could hardly be mentioned in the same breath as Hawke’s Bay when it comes to player depth a result of that magnitude might suggest that Sunday’s match will be a walk in the park for Wairarapa but there are two good reasons why that may be a case of wishful thinking.
Firstly, limited-overs cricket is a game where a couple of outstanding individual efforts can quickly sway the balance of power and in their four Central Hinds players, Jess Watkin, Lisa Grant, Michelle Bunkle and Michelle Martin, Whangaui have four players who fall into that category.
None more so that Watkin who is an aggressive batswoman with an appetite for scoring heavily on the provincial scene and also a more-than-handy off spinner.
Korus coach Simon Roseingrave freely concedes that snaring Watkin early will be a prime objective for his bowlers.
“Last time a Wairarapa team came up against her we actually got her out first ball….. I’d love to think that will happen again,” he said.
“She’s the sort of player who can score a hundred in no time at all, she’s very hard to contain once she gets going.”
It is Wairarapa’s own Central Hind, Melissa Hansen, who will shoulder much of the responsibility of keeping Watkin and company in check.
She hasn’t taken as many wickets as she would like this season but certainly impressed with the pace she worked up against Hawke’s Bay and is due a change in fortune.
The good thing about Hansen is that even if she is not taking wickets she seldom concedes many runs and that too is crucial in the shortened version of the game.
The second reason why a Wairarapa victory is no certainty is that they will be without three of the players involved in that historic victory over Hawke’s Bay — Karen Bracewell, Caitlin Elliott and Olivia Mauriri.
The absence of this trio will be felt, particularly that of Bracewell whose fighting qualities have made her a vital component of the middle order batting.
Without Bracewell it will be skipper Esther Lanser who will be expected to play the anchorman role and she appeals as a player who will relish that challenge.
Her tactical nous is sure to play a key part in the outcome of this fixture as well.
The full Korus squad is: Esther Lanser (captain), Melissa Hansen, Gemma Sims, Annissa Greenlees, Kate Sims, Sinead Barrell, Rewa Pomare, Talia Jones-Dennes, Monique Graves, Georgia Atkinson, Olivia Roseingrave, Hattie Vincent.
Meanwhile the final series of qualifying round matches in Wairarapa Cricket’s Umpires Cup senior men’s competition will be played tomorrow with Lansdowne and Greytown still jockeying to see who will earn automatic qualification to the grand final on Sunday, December 18, and which of them will be consigned to a semi-final against Rathkeale College the previous day.
Lansdowne clearly have the inside running to seal a finals berth as they top the points table with 25pts, 2pts clear of Rathkeale on 23pts.
Greytown are third with 21pts, followed by Red Star 12pts and Wairarapa College 2pts.
Tomorrow’s draw sees Lansdowne playing Wairarapa College and Greytown up against Red Star at Queen Elizabeth Park in Masterton and if the form book counts for anything, Lansdowne and Greytown should both secure comfortable wins.