TPL Cricket Begins with One Newcomer but Usual Favourites
Version two of the Tasman Premier League (TPL) of club cricket begins on Saturday 5 October with one newcomer, but the usual favourites. Wanderers and Motueka clubs have both been in decline over recent years to the point where recently neither had been able to field a competitive senior team. The common-sense approach was taken, and the two clubs have amalgamated to get back up with the big boys. Geographically this appears to be a very sensible solution and it is great to see a country team back in the fray. Playing through champions, Stoke/Nayland however, must be considered the pre-tournament favourites.
Taylors Contracting Wanderers/Motueka will be largely made of a core of Wanderers regulars, backed with about five promising Motueka up and comers and a couple of overseas pros. Boe Bamford is one of those highly touted youngsters who we will watch with interest. Englishman Max Mannering will be the player/coach. He is an off spinner who will get plenty of overs and is a handy batsman. Zade Mohamnard an Afghan out of England is a genuine left arm quick who has been released from his English club side. Hayden Ingham, the old hand from Wanderers, will no doubt also provide support with middle innings overs. There has been a lot of work gone in behind the scenes from both clubs and the amalgamation seemed the only way back into Premier cricket. As a new club Wanderers/Motueka are aiming to be competitive in the grade and to snag two or three wins and see where they are at come the business end of the season. This is an exciting compromise and should benefit the competition as a whole.
The Car Company Stoke/Nayland will be looking to carry on the good form of the past couple of seasons, but obviously clean sweeping the silverware twice is a hard act to follow. They will need to be more consistent with the bat this season, especially as the ageing bowling attack packs a bit less punch. This outfit know how to win however and will aspire to play some positive cricket and build towards another tilt at the Central Districts Club Championship in February. Stoke/Nayland are looking for Patrick Howes to have a big year and show his class, the same with overseas seamer Tom Chambers who will hopefully add some heat to a slowing attack.
Chambers should arrive from England in time for round one. He comes on Howe’s recommendation as they were teammates at Weston-Super-Mare in Somerset. The champions will also add to their ranks former Griffins all-rounder Liam Clark returning from a stint in Christchurch. Coach Aaron Mallinson will welcome these two as they will in some way offset the losses of Ili Tugaga and Symon Carr to Wellington, Samuel Chamberlain to Christchurch and Clayton Campbell who is returning to Australia in mid-November.
Stoke/Nayland will boast their usual club stalwarts in skipper Brendan Hodgson, vice-captain Dylan Eginton, Chris Dittmer, Ricky Edwards, Darius Skeaping, Ben Homan, Kurt Pahl, et al. Former Mako and Hurricanes rugby player Billy Guyton should get more opportunities this season after working his way up via Presidents grade last year and playing a pivotal role in the 50 over final. Also you would under estimate Chris Bayard at your peril. This club has undoubled pedigree and they will be a tough nut to crack.
The Nelson College 1st XI will have their usual battles. They will be losing a number of senior players as they depart their scholarly ways. Fergus Hughes, Damien Aitken and Louis MacAlister will all be plying their trade at Victory Square in the Wakatu colours. College have retained the gangly opening bowler Jarrod McKay and he should be well supported by his younger sibling Kaleb. Finn Restieaux is an extremely gifted batsman and leg spinner and a lot will be expected from his now experienced shoulders. Mason Lund should get a big workload with his off spinners and it is also time for the Raxworthy twins Finn and Jonty to step up and perform.
The major change to College personnel is in the coaching staff. It is back to the future as the maestro Garry MacDonald returns to take charge. He is a hard task master with a proven track record and the schoolboys should benefit from his guile and wisdom.
ACOB have had a very solid preseason and apart from Nic Clark have their entire 2018/19 squad returning for the upcoming campaign. They will also welcome quick Nibu Jose who is a very talented youngster with overseas experience who is fairly new to Nelson. There are a few former players coming back to their roots as well. Duncan Taylor (former Nelson College, Nelson Griffins and AOB player) returns from Christchurch and while he has probably slowed down as he has aged, he can be a dynamic player with both bat and ball. The club will also welcome back Joseph Gregan who has completed his time at Otago university, Jake Milton has returned from the UK after last wearing ACOB colours in 2011/12 and Daniel Grimes is back on board in a full capacity.
With a plethora of talented University students set to arrive back at the start of November, ACOB will look to the experience of Milton, Greg Chitty, Reuben Smith, Horse Baumfield, James Graham and last season’s club MVP Matt Eden to provide momentum early on. BJ Barnett will be captain and coach and they should be there or thereabouts when the trophies are being handed out in the new year.
Wakatu have a few player changes from a somewhat inconsistent effort last season. Skipper Devon Serrurier is unavailable due to work and family commitments so Campbell McLean will be leading the side around the paddock. Also absent this year is opening bowler Cody Golding who has relocated to Blenheim. As previously mentioned Wakatu reap the benefits from Nelson College as school leavers Hughes, Aitken and MacAlister join the club. Daniel Hooper will once again be performing coaching duties.
With a string of inconsistent performances last season Wakatu will be looking to improve on their results and make the TPL semi-finals this year. This will largely depend on the likes of Hooper and Brad Smith to lead the way with bat in hand and for Ryan Hooper and Matt O’Sullivan to dictate terms with the ball. The all-round contributions of Jared Exeter, Campbell McLean, Aitken and Liam Rowling will also have an important role to play in any success that the team has.
Veteran Mason Robinson will be behind the stumps as he goes around one more season in preparation for the Over 50’s world cup next year
WTTU will be led again by bowling all-rounder Sam Baxendine. He will be surrounded by some of the experienced senior leaders from last year; Joey O’Connor, Mason Thelin and Tom Cross all of whom will be expected to make major contributions. There has been an addition to the coaching group with Craig Bartlett as a bowling coach / mentor as a back up to Head Coach Richard Percy.
The only major loss from last season is all – rounder Kurt Thompson to Australia. He will leave a major gap both with bat and ball. Josh Newport has returned from a good stint playing senior club cricket in Ireland and this experience should enhance his prospects for the coming season. The addition of ten Waimea College lads to the club has bolstered the numbers and should have a positive impact on the development and ensure that they have depth at the back end of the season.
There appears to be a good mix of experience and youth within this year’s WTTU playing group. It is anticipated that the younger boys will bring a huge abundance of energy and with the returning personnel there is an anticipation that the club will be in contention in all formats of the game.
The TPL will again consist of a double round robin as the six Nelson teams are joined by the Dolphins and Falcons from Blenheim. Round one sees Nelson College hosting new boys Wanders/Motueka at Ngawhatu and ACOB travelling out to challenge Stoke/Nayland at Marsden Rec. Wakatu will be on the road to Blenheim playing Falcons at Horton 1 while WTTU play Dolphins on the adjoining pitch. All fixtures begin at 11:30 am.
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