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New venue poses new challenges

Captain and all-rounder Gordon Reisima, centre, will drop down the order with return of regular opener Robbie Anderson. PHOTOS/FILE


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Post Office Hotel Wairarapa need a good haul of points from this weekend’s two-day clash away to Taranaki to stay in the hunt in the Furlong Cup and a possible Hawke Cup challenge.

Wairarapa picked up only four points in their draw [a loss on first innings] with Manawatu two weeks ago, while Taranaki suffered an outright innings defeat to Hawke Cup holders Hawke’s Bay. A second-place finish in the Furlong Cup could be enough to secure the first challenge in late January.

Wairarapa coach Neil Perry is reading little into the first-round results and predicts a tough battle against Taranaki who he expects to “come out fighting”.

“We expect sides to fight and to have quality and play good cricket, but if we focus on what we want to do well and put them under pressure, then it makes it very challenging for them, but we respect them.”

Providing a slightly different challenge is that the match will be played at the unusual venue of Francis Douglas Memorial College rather than the picturesque Pukekura Park, which is being used for NPC rugby because of the redevelopment of the city’s main rugby venue Yarrow Stadium.

Stefan Hook, right, celebrates one of his six wickets against Manawatu with wicketkeeper Paddy Gluck.

Perry is disappointed the game is not at Taranaki’s regular home ground. However, Francis Douglas is a ground he knows well having coached the Rathkeale first XV on their biennial visits to the school.

“It’s another picturesque little ground with the mountain in the background, but it’s an open space, and my experience playing at Francis Douglas is a little bit different, because we tend to play there at the back end of the season. There’s only a small block, and the wicket’s perhaps a little bit tired, so it tends to take a lot of spin.”

Perry said it may provide a different surface at this time of the season.

“You would expect to see some grass on there and for it to be probably more seamer-friendly.

“It tends to play a little low but last time I was there, both teams scored 300, so it will be case of having a look at the wicket and playing it as we see it really, and having no preconceptions, and adapting our game accordingly.”

There are three changes to the Wairarapa side that played Manawatu. Former Black Cap Seth Rance and veteran medium-slow bowler Pete Sigvertsen are missing from that side, replaced by brothers Robbie and Jeremy Anderson, adding strength to the top and middle order. United seam bowler Gurdev Singh will make his representative debut.

Rance’s absence is a big blow but not unexpected. The experienced first-class medium-fast bowler is nearing full fitness and played for Central Districts A this week. He will join the Central Stags for their Plunket Shield clash with Wellington next week.

“It’s always great to have him with us because he makes such a difference with everybody,” said Perry, “but we want him to get back to full fitness and strutting his stuff on the first-class stage.”

Gurdev Singh, bowling, will make his Wairarapa debut against Taranaki.

Singh’s selection is an intriguing one.

The debutant bowls right-arm and left-arm spin, and medium pace, and is a useful hard-hitting lower-order batter. His attitude to training has impressed Perry.

“I particularly liked his right-arm medium-pace bowling. He gets the ball to nip back at a reasonable pace from good areas, and he certainly causes lots of problems for batters.”

Jeremy Anderson’s return to the side comes after a long absence from representative cricket.

“It’s not his debut, and I believe he played some rep cricket when he was about 17, and he’s been a long time off the scene. He’s been training with us for a couple of years, and it’s good to have another lefthander in the middle order.”

Taranaki are likely to field an experienced side led by Matt Thomas, whose left-arm spin could prove vital, while medium-pacer Ryan Watson is a potential game-breaker with his accurate swing bowling.

Former Central Stag opener Dean Robinson will be the key wicket at the top of the order.

Perry is confident Wairarapa can match Taranaki as the players are in a good space and are training well.

“We’ve got a core group of experienced mature cricketers who are very good rep players, and we’re just looking forward to this weekend and playing some good cricket.

“We’ve got the quality in the side to play anybody on any surface, and we believe we have enough depth of bowlers to take wickets on any surface.”

The only hindrance to Wairarapa could be the weather, with rain forecast for New Plymouth for most of the weekend.

Wairarapa team: Gordon Reisima [captain], Jake Jonas, Robbie Anderson, Jared van Deventer, Andy Dodd, Jeremy Anderson, Jack Forrester, Nathan Elliott, Patrick Gluck [wk], Gurdev Singh, Sean Wakelin, Stefan Hook.

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