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Do-or-die for Wairarapa

Post Office Hotel Wairarapa are confident of a good showing heading into their biggest match in over a decade, a do-or-die Furlong Cup clash with Hawke’s Bay at Queen Elizabeth Park Oval.

The home side needs to pick up 14 points [first inning points and an outright plus at least six bonus points] to usurp Manawatu at the top of the table and earn their first Hawke Cup challenge in 12 years.

Coach Mark Childs is well aware of the difficult task ahead against the benchmark side of district association cricket and the current holders of the Cup.

“They are a daunting prospect, but we’re up for it; the boys are keen and confident, they’ve trained well all season, they’ve done the work, and we’re now in a position where we’ve got a sniff of it, so I tip my hat to them, they’ve played some really good cricket,” Childs said.

“It’s about belief – self-belief as an individual and self-belief as a team that we can do it.

“We’re going to have to play to our very best to beat them, we know that, and the probability is they’ll have to be a little bit off given the strength of their side. The boys are up for it, and it’s going to be a great weekend for them.”

Childs has gone bowler-heavy in naming his side with the need to take 20 wickets, with the Oval pitch having a decidedly underprepared appearance with plenty of grass interspersed with bald patches and likely to favour the bowlers – almost the complete opposite to the flat track they toiled away on at Donnelly Park in Levin last weekend.

That sees left-arm spinner and in-form middle-order batter Quinn Childs return after missing the first innings win over Horowhenua-Kapiti with an ankle ligament strain, while Wairarapa College all-rounder Sam Payne also returns to the team. Last weekend’s century-maker Jaco Vorster is away, while wicketkeeper Nathan Elliott drops out, with the gloves to be taken by captain Robbie Anderson.

Former Black Cap Seth Rance, Ethan Childs, James Church, Payne, George Deans, Jack Wakeling, and Jake Jonas provide plenty of medium-pace options, while Quinn Childs and Taylor Bettelheim could expect plenty of overs on a pitch block that was two-paced and poppy in two women’s Shrimpton Trophy matches last weekend.

“The wicket is probably going to give some assistance, and we just have to get it consistently in the right areas, which we didn’t do last week, and the team would have learnt a lot from bowling on a ‘road’, which we haven’t done a lot this season.

“The tracks we get in Masterton are not what Hawke’s Bay are used to, so hopefully that works in our favour.”

Although the bowlers should relish the conditions, the batting in the first innings holds the key to Wairarapa getting enough bonus points to keep alive their challenge prospects, with them needing at least 200 runs for two bonus points.

“If we don’t get 200, we don’t get a challenge, so batting-wise, we’ve got to make sure we’re still disciplined with our approach, we’re still tight in our techniques, and we take advantage of any loose balls that are on offer, although a side like this doesn’t give you as many.

“All those little one percenters and taking every single that’s available, playing as straight as you can along the ground, and just have lots of guts and determination and heart to bat for periods of time and build partnerships.”

Wairarapa’s home record in recent seasons has been solid, and the team can boast a commanding first-innings win over Manawatu in November, while over the years they’ve occasionally had the better of Hawke’s Bay at the Oval, with a first innings win in 2019–20 the most recent success.

Childs concluded that earning the right to play for the Hawke Cup would mean everything to the players, and they’ve worked hard to get into a position to push for a challenge against Hawke’s Bay in Napier next weekend.

“It’s been 12 years now, and they don’t come around often, and they’re bloody hard to get,” he said.

“It’s not like rugby, where you get a Ranfurly Shield challenge handed to you on a plate; you have to earn these challenges against some quality sides.

“The team spirit is there, the unity is there, and they’re enjoying their cricket and having lots of fun along the way.”

Play is scheduled to get underway at 10.30am tomorrow and Sunday.

Wairarapa team to
play Hawke’s Bay:

Robbie Anderson [captain, wicketkeeper], Taylor Bettelheim, Jake Jonas, Jeremy Anderson, Quinn Childs, Mark Steventon, Seth Rance, Samuel Payne, George Deans, Jack Wakeling, Ethan Childs, James Church.

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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