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Wairarapa brace for life without opener Burling

Ethan Childs will open the bowling for Wairarapa. PHOTOS/FILE

CRICKET

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Highmark Homes Wairarapa’s preparations for the opening round of the Furlong Cup against Horowhenua-Kapiti this weekend in Levin have hit a speed bump.

Doubt surrounds the availability of top order batsman Liam Burling, who was in line to captain the team.

Burling has been playing premier club cricket for Johnsonville and had intended playing for Wairarapa in the Furlong Cup [Hawke Cup elimination series] and in the Chapple Cup one-day tournament.

However, a new playing condition introduced by Cricket Wellington this season prevents any player who plays for another major association or their A team, or a district association from playing in the Wellington premier championship.

Burling, who has been the mainstay of the batting line-up in recent seasons, is on the Wellington selectors’ radar for their A side.

Liam Burling likely to miss rep season.

With the likely absence of Burling at first drop, the pressure will be on the rest of the top order to produce a solid platform for a big score.

The return of the hard-hitting Brock Price, who missed last season while in Britain, is a big boost.

Price returned to club cricket last Saturday with an aggressive 144 for Lansdowne against Paraparaumu in the Coastal Challenge.

In his last Furlong Cup campaign in 2017-18, Price scored two centuries – 116 against Manawatu and 108 against Hawke’s Bay.

In the likely absence of Burling, Price will also step into the captaincy role.

Rathkeale students John McKenzie and Gus Borren will open, while Ethan Childs is likely to take the important number three role.

The tall all-rounder has previously batted in the top order and has the patience and technique to handle the demanding position.

Price will bat at number four, with another hard-hitter Jaco Vorster at five and wicketkeeper Jack Forrester, Anthony Sprowson, and debutant Jake Jonas set to fill the important middle order.

Bowlers Quinn Childs, Stefan Hook, and Hugo Wakeling complete a strong batting line-up.

Hook and Ethan Childs are an exciting opening bowling partnership. They’ll get good support from medium pacer Peter Sigvertsen, especially if a typical early season green seamer is produced at Donnelly Park.

Left-arm spinner Quinn Childs and leg spinner Wakeling, another debutant, are promising slow bowlers who can take advantage of the slightest bit of turn.

Assistant coach Mark Childs, who will take the side with coach Neil Perry in England for family reasons, said the top order batting was key to a good result.

“Batting the first hour without risk, with the middle order coming in at 130-150 for two, is when we’ve won games before. We’ve always gone well when we put runs on the board early.

“We’ll assess conditions when we get there and if it’s a green top we’ll be happy to bowl first.

“Stefan has been running in well and has gained a yard in pace since going to the gym and Ethan’s been playing in Dunedin and has taken seven wickets in the past two weeks.”

The match starts at Donnelly Park, Levin at 10.30am today and tomorrow.

Probable Wairarapa team

Brock Price, Stefan Hook, John McKenzie, Gus Borren, Jaco Vorster, Jack Forrester, Anthony Sprowson, Ethan Childs, Quinn Childs, Jake Jonas, Hugo Wakeling, Peter Sigvertsen.

Wairarapa fixtures for 2019-20 season:

Furlong Cup – v Horowhenua-Kapiti in Levin [November 2-3], v Taranaki in New Plymouth [November 16-17], v Whanganui in Masterton [December 7-8], v Manawatu in Masterton [January 18-19], v Hawke’s Bay in Masterton [February 1-2].

Chapple Cup one-day tournament: November 22-24 in Napier, first round v Whanganui.

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