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Childs’ focus is on an attacking style

New Wairarapa cricket coach Mark Childs wants to bring hardcore “Bush” passion back to representative cricket.

Childs, 48, was recently confirmed by Wairarapa Cricket as coach of the senior men’s representative coach on a one-year deal, replacing Neil Perry, who guided the team through seven seasons.

Having represented Wairarapa in more than 50 games from 1993 to 2019 with big chunks missing due to chasing a dream of becoming a Hurricanes rugby player and serious shoulder and Achilles tendon injuries, Childs had no hesitation putting his name forward after Perry called it quits.

Recently, he coached Greytown in the Wairarapa-Bush premier rugby championship, leading the club to the title in 2021, and he said giving up that role provided the ideal opportunity to take up the challenge.

“I’m excited by the young talent that is around, and I knew Neil was talking about hanging up the boots after his great service to the side,” Childs said.

“I had pulled out of rugby this season, and it just dawned on me that I should apply for it and see what we can build on based on what Neil has done over the last seven years.

“Being Wairarapa born and bred and having a connection with most of the players already, and I’ve been supporting and watching the team, and obviously the experience I’ve had playing for Wairarapa, and having some success with coaching rugby, gave me a foot in the door.”

Childs will have Seth Rance as a bowling coaching assistant, although the Central Stag veteran medium pacer, who still has aspirations of extending his professional playing career, won’t have an official role because of time restraints and his rehabilitation from a serious back injury.

“You look at the teams Seth’s got involvement with, and they tend to have great spirit. He is the ‘king of the spirit’, and he will be involved but not in a full-time capacity, but we definitely want to tap into his guidance and skill, especially some of those younger bowlers.

“We want to build on that and try and create an environment where we get the best out of the bowlers, young or old, and hopefully, they express themselves and learn a few things along the way.”

When it comes to his expectations, Childs has no qualms about aiming high, saying that he won’t be going into this half-hearted.

“I want to create that positive team environment where everybody feels included, and through that and coaching, we can build a winning culture.

“I’m aiming for wins and a pretty attacking mindset when it comes to our cricket, especially from a captaincy point of view.

“I feel in the past, we haven’t been aggressive enough when we’re in the field as well with some of our field placings and bowling changes, so I’ll be working really hard with the skipper on that. Just those little one-per-centers that weren’t happening, I will be homing in on.”

Childs also identified batting, especially in the first innings, where apart from the dominant first-innings victory over Whanganui last season, Wairarapa have failed to fire, as the one other major area of concern, saying the first innings is the key to success in two-day Furlong Cup cricket.

Overall though, Childs is excited about the prospects with the young talent coming through and feels there is a good base to develop a competitive unit.

“You look at the likes of Jake Jonas, Mark Steventon, Samuel Payne – those types of players, and Kuranui have good up-and-coming legspinner Alex Mason, and you mix that in with Ethan and Quinn [Childs], who are still young but experienced now, there is a lot of talent, and they probably just need a bit more experience to figure out their games a bit more, especially on the batting side, where there a few technical things I’ve noticed. We can work on that and try to get them to thrive in a good fun happy environment.”

With premier club cricket struggling to produce a worthwhile championship in recent seasons and many players preferring to play in midweek T20 competitions and not the traditional formats, that has reduced the pool available for representative play, although Childs will attempt to tap into talent.

“We will ask them to do that, but a lot will depend on their family situations, and a lot of those guys have young children, and the time constraints that cricket can put on them at weekends will be a key factor for those people. Certainly, we’ll be on the phone and the messaging service asking who wants to be part of something we hope will be pretty cool.”

Childs plans to hold an extensive preseason programme before the start of the Furlong Cup campaign, probably in October or November.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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