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Focus on doing the small things well

It’s the little one-percenters that make the difference in cricket!

That’s the focus for coach Mark Childs as he readies for his first game in charge of Post Office Hotel Wairarapa away to Taranaki in this weekend’s opening round of the Furlong Cup [the zone two Hawke Cup elimination series].

Noted for his positive approach as a top-order batter, Mark Childs is encouraging the players to adopt a similar style of controlled aggression not only with the bat but in the field as well in the two-day [124 overs] format.

“Batting is not all about hitting fours and sixes; it’s the little one-percenters, like running between the wickets, and our fielding in the past has been a bit average, so we’re trying to hone in on those little details that make all the difference in a game,” said Mark Childs, adding he doesn’t want to see a block bash mentality, but an intensity in ticking over the scoreboard.

“Aggression comes in many forms for me. It’s trying to play intelligent cricket and at the same time taking the game to the opposition with positive stroke play, and when we get a bad ball, the message is to put it away, but we’re always looking at areas where we can get off strike with our batting.

“I’m trying to get them to look at the game situation so we don’t all go out there and play the same way. It depends on the situation of the match, and if we’ve got a lead and there’s no chance of a result, the intention would be to bat out the rest of the day.”

The coach’s aggressive approach is likely to be mirrored by new captain Robbie Anderson, a gritty and, at times, hard-hitting opener and experienced campaigner at rep level. He will be joined at the top of the order by loan player Taylor Bettelheim, who boasts a double century at Hawke Cup level for Bay of Plenty and has impressed in Central Stags’ warmup games.

Jake Jonas, Jeremy Anderson, Jaco Vorster, Rance, and wicketkeeper Nathan Elliott make up the top and middle order, while Wairarapa College all-rounder Samuel Payne, Quinn Childs, Jack Wakeling and Shamal Perera are all capable of chipping in with runs in the lower order.

In the field, Mark Childs doesn’t expect his bowlers to blast through opposition teams, saying, “It’s about discipline and being patient with the areas that we’re bowling in and just hitting those areas consistently, and that allows the skipper to set the right fields.”

The loss of seam bowling all-rounder Ethan Childs with a shoulder injury is a big blow. The tall right-hander would have taken the new ball and relished bowling on a Pukekura Park pitch that traditionally provides some assistance for the seam bowlers in the early season.

That means Mark Childs has named a team with eight bowling options, including former Black Cap medium pacer Rance, although his recovery from major shoulder surgery will limit the number of overs he can bowl.

Payne, Rathkeale’s James Church and debutant Wakeling will likely vie for new ball honours, while all-rounders Jonas and Vorster can expect a heavy workload. Jonas could be the trump card with his accurate wicket-to-wicket bowling, which saw him capture 8 for 13 off 10 overs for his Burnside West Christchurch University premier club side last Saturday.

The spin bowling provides plenty of variety with left-armer Quinn Childs, off-spinner Perera, and Bettelheim, a more than useful leg-spinner.

“We’ve gone for guys who have been consistent in their line and length, and we’ll look to squeeze the opposition and force them into errors.”

The return of Rance for probably a full Furlong Cup campaign is a massive boost for Wairarapa, and Mark Childs said his influence has been invaluable, not only with the young bowlers but throughout the whole squad.

“Just with his experience and what he’s done in his career and his really positive attitude, he’s a great guy to have around a team, and he puts the team first, so he’s a real key component towards that culture and spirit we’re trying to develop and getting them all to work hard on their games and assisting the seam bowlers, and Dougie Bracewell Senior has been great with the spin bowlers with pitch mapping and getting them to focus on getting that line and length where it needs to be and limiting the bad balls.”

Mark Childs has high ambitions for Wairarapa, saying that he would like to be in a position to challenge for the Furlong Cup after the three rounds to be played before Christmas.

“This first game is crucial, and we need to get off to a good start and set the tone for the two-day season, so we’ll obviously reassess at Christmas time and see where we’re positioned, but ambition is always a great thing, and we’ll get the boys to aim high,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of just playing good cricket; we need to have a harder edge and a bit of a winning mentality.”

Although unsure of the Taranaki lineup, Mark Childs expects to face a typically competitive side in the two-day game.

“They’re probably not in the same ilk as Manawatu or Hawke’s Bay, but we’re going to have to be on top of our game to come away with a win.”

Wairarapa team to play Taranaki:
Robbie Anderson [captain], Taylor Bettelheim, Jake Jonas, Jeremy Anderson, Jaco Vorster, Seth Rance, Samuel Payne, Nathan Elliott [wk], Quinn Childs, Jack Wakeling, Shamal Perera, 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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