Burger King Red Star are confident of making a strong push in this season’s Coastal Challenge championship.
Only seven teams are contesting this year’s 50-over tournament, with Red Star the only Wairarapa team, after the demise of the United side that had played in three of the past four competitions but had consistently struggled to field teams.
Red Star will come up against four club teams from Horowhenua-Kapiti, and two from Whanganui, in the competition, which will culminate in the semifinals and final in March. They will host Whanganui Marist at Queen Elizabeth Park Oval this afternoon in their opening clash.
All eleven who will take the field this afternoon have played representative cricket, with Wairarapa captain Jared van Deventer the only United player to join the squad.
“I’m very conscious the other regions didn’t want just one team because they thought it would just be a Wairarapa rep team, but Jared is the only one that’s come from United, and everyone else is actually Red Star anyway,” said Red Star captain Jeremy Anderson, who added that against Manawatu two weeks ago Red Star had provided eight of the squad.
The in-form Robbie Anderson, who scored his first rep century in the Manawatu game, and Central Districts under-19 rep Jake Jonas will open the batting, followed by van Deventer at first drop. Jeremy Anderson, hard-hitting wicketkeeper-batter Nathan Elliott, and promising teenager Mark Steventon, who showcased his potential with some useful scores at rep level, including his first half-century, complete a strong top and middle order.
The loss of Stefan Hook overseas was a big blow. Hook had developed into a useful all-rounder, but it will be his fast-medium bowling that will be missed the most. The bowling attack will be led by veteran medium pacer Pete Sigvertsen, with support from the much improved Patrick Wootton, allrounders Jonas and George Deans, and spinners Quinn Childs and Trey Bidois.
Rathkeale students and CD Under-17 reps Angus Jaspers and James Church are also expected to feature throughout the competition when school commitments allow.
Red Star made the semifinals in 2020 and 2021 but will be targeting a top-two finish to get home advantage, and Jeremy Anderson believes that with the talent they have available, that is realistic.
“If we can get a team like this every week, we should be in the semis. We weren’t that far off last year, albeit we had Stefan, and losing him makes a big difference.
“We had three younger bowlers last year – Paddy, James, and Angus and they’ve had a bit of rep experience now, so that will help them.”
Jeremy Anderson admits he knows little about Marist, except they were well beaten by Whanganui United in last week’s opening round.
The visitors have several Whanganui representatives, including wily veteran Mark Fraser, top-order batter Chris Stewart, and medium pacers Fraser and Ross Kinnerley.
Play is to start at the Oval at noon.
Red Star team:
Jeremy Anderson [captain], Robbie Anderson, Jake Jonas, Jared van Deventer, Nathan Elliott [wk], Mark Steventon, Trey Bidois, George Deans, Quinn Childs, Pete Sigvertsen, Patrick Wootton.