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Furlong Cup crunch time approaches

“We’re coming down to the crunch now; we’ve just got to show big hearts, get stuck into it, play the better cricket, and hopefully come away with as many points as we can.”

That’s the mantra from Post Office Hotel Wairarapa coach Mark Childs as his side head to Levin for their vital Furlong Cup [Hawke Cup zone two elimination series] match with Horowhenua-Kapiti [HK] tomorrow and Sunday.

Wairarapa are fourth in the standings on 25 points, 14 behind leaders Manawatū, with Taranaki on 36, and Hawke Cup holders Hawke’s Bay on 26 points.

Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay have a game in hand on the other teams and will meet in the final match at Queen Elizabeth Park Oval next weekend.

A good points haul against HK this weekend could put Wairarapa in a position to push for a Hawke Cup challenge, depending on the outcome of the Manawatū-Taranaki clash in Palmerston North.

The first-year coach is conscious of the need to be aggressive but also take a measured approach.

“Ideally, we want to push for an outright, but we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves and think too much about the second day because if we’re not mentally strong on the first innings, it could cost us,” Mark Childs said.

“We’ve got to look after our wickets, and we don’t want to be too aggressive, but at the same time, we want to have a real purpose around our run rate and guys looking to play nice and straight early and get themselves in, and if we can build a good platform that middle order is pretty strong so we’ll be looking if we bat first to build a big total and, if we field first, to keep our discipline with our bowling and not get too far ahead of ourselves.”

The key to posting a good first innings score rests with the top order, and while captain and opener Robbie Anderson and first-drop Jake Jonas have notched up some useful scores, loan player Taylor Bettelheim has yet to fire, although Mark Childs is confident the former Bay of Plenty rep will find his touch.

“He’s really enjoying playing for ‘the Bush’ and just wants to do well. He’ll find a way eventually; he’s too classy not to, and we’ve got faith in him, and this weekend is a good opportunity for him because the batting deck is normally pretty reasonable over there.

“What he’s found here is we like the green seamers, and the bowlers are a bit slower, and the wickets are a bit trickier, and he has probably struggled to adapt.”

Wairarapa go into the game without in-form all-rounder Quinn Childs, who strained an ankle ligament at training on Tuesday night. His absence is a big blow, as he has been in outstanding form with the bat, while his accurate left-arm spin will be missed on a Donnelly Park pitch that has been known to take turn. Bettelheim, though, is a more than useful leg spinner and should relish the conditions.

There was better news on the seam bowling front, with former Black Cap Seth Rance approaching full fitness after recovering from a major shoulder operation. The medium-fast bowler is expected to play a key role this weekend after an encouraging workout at training during the week, with Mark Childs saying he was generating good pace towards the end of the session.

Matches between the two districts are often closely fought, and Mark Childs is aware of the threats posed by HK, with the likes of Bailey Te Tomo and Prabodha Arthavidu Ellawala Liyanage aggressive top-order batters, while Zack Benton and Carter Andrews form a strong opening bowling partnership.

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

Wairarapa team to
play Horowhenua-Kapiti

Robbie Anderson [captain], Taylor Bettelheim, Jake Jonas, Jeremy Anderson, Seth Rance, Mark Steventon, Jaco Vorster, George Deans, Nathan Elliott, 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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