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Where have all the openers gone?

By Gary Caffell

It’s the question which all too often is the main talking point when Wairarapa senior men’s cricket teams are the topic of conversation.

Who will open the batting?

Specialist openers capable of doing a good job on the representative scene have been as scarce as hen’s teeth for more years than most of us would care to remember, and nothing has changed in 2016.

At the time these notes were penned the opening combination for Wairarapa’s Hawke Cup qualifying round match against Taranaki at Queen Elizabeth Park oval in Masterton tomorrow and Sunday had not been

However, the word from coach Neil Perry was that, all things being equal, the task could fall to a couple of younger members of the current squad, Liam Burling and Kelsey Fahey, neither of whom are accustomed to the role.

Burling is a regular in the top order but usually at three or four.

He is a former Central Districts age group player who generally likes to get on with the job and it will be interesting to see his approach if he is asked to open the innings on this occasion.

Fahey is an all-rounder whose main impact thus far for Wairarapa has been as a very useful medium pace bowler rather than as a batsman but there have certainly been times on the club scene, in particular, when he has proved effective in the batting sphere as well, invariably in the middle order.

Asking Fahey to open would undoubtedly have a huge risk factor about it as the Taranaki quickies would be sure to focus hard on exposing any deficiencies against the new ball but he is certainly no quitter when it comes to temperament and that would be a help

It is not only the opening partnership, of course, which needs to fire if Wairarapa are to foot it with an invariably strong Taranaki line-up.

Imperative too will be hefty contributions from some of the more experienced batsmen in the squad like Brock Price, Robbie Speers, Gordon Reisima, Paul Lyttle and Daniel Ingham and it would be nice
to think that newcomer Jack Forrester, the Rathkeale College skipper, could make a positive showing as well.

This will be Wairarapa’s third match in the 2016-17 Hawke Cup zone two series with the first against Manawatu being completely washed out by the weather and the second, against Whanganui, last weekend finishing in a draw after persistent rain ensured there would be no action on the second day.

There was enough play in that Whanganui game, however, for the Wairarapa attack to make a favourable impression with Ingham, Stefan Hook-Sporry and Peter Sigvertsen all being economical while picking up valuable wickets at the same time.

Spinner Peter Aiken also showed promise but is unavailable this weekend and has been replaced by Dane Buchanan, who is no stranger to this level of cricket.

Coach Perry says the pre-match message to the Wairarapa squad will revolve around them developing partnerships, both on the batting and bowling front.

“Obviously it’s going to a big challenge but if we focus on the team aspect and work for each other we should be very competitive,” he said.

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