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Cricket Writers Agree to Disagree over Hawke Cup Zone Final

No matter what the thermometer says, whenever teams from both sides of the Whangamoas meet in the sporting arena the temperature goes up a few extra notches.

When the prize is a challenge for the coveted Hawke Cup, a huge part of Marlborough and Nelson’s cricket heritage, the heat is well and truly on. Battle lines are quickly drawn and both camps begin preparations designed to gain an edge on the “auld enemy”. The long-standing top of the south rivalry brings out the best in both sides, who have met three times so far this season.

As always, often depending on which side of the hill you hail from, opinions are divided over the potential outcome of the sides’ fourth meeting, which will take place at Blenheim’s Horton Park on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Peter Jones, from the Marlborough App, and Nelson Cricket writer Peter Grigg were asked to don their respective provincial caps and provide five reasons why their team will be victorious this weekend, thus earning the right to challenge Southland for the Hawke Cup on February 15-17.


1: They are a better all-round side, as their record shows. They tied with a fortunate Nelson outfit, away, in November, downed them in the Cave Cup final, then beat the Griffins on the first innings in their recent qualifying match. OK, they eventually lost outright, but the points were in the bag by then.

2: Home advantage. No-one knows the Horton Park deck better than the local lads, plus, there is bound to be some rowdy support from the bank for the Boomtown boys.

3: The Dolphins factor. While it is only club cricket, the on-going success of the unbeaten Dolphins team in the Tasman Premier League will build confidence in the Marlborough ranks. Players such as Josh Poole, Jerrym Lamb and Prabodha Arthavidu have dominated all the bowlers they will face this weekend at club level and are poised to repeat the dose.

4: Experience. While there are a few rising stars in the Marlborough line-up, there is plenty of Hawke Cup experience. Lamb and Poole were part of the side that won the Cup in 2011 while skipper Matthew Stretch, Nick Weaver, Ma’ara Ave, Tarin Mason and Sam Boyce have been around the rep scene for quite some time. Arthavidu previously played Hawke Cup cricket for South Canterbury. In coaches Jarrod Englefield, Greg Logan and Colin Wood, plus manager Greg Stretch, they have a cricketing brains trust to rely on.

5: It’s time. Momentum has gradually been building around this team over the past few seasons, after battling through some tough times. They possess a strong culture and have, literally, done the hard years in training. Their time has come …         


1: The Psychological Edge.  The last time these two teams met (just two weekends ago) Nelson Pine Griffins staged a remarkable come from behind victory to comprehensively win outright by seven wickets.  They outplayed Marlborough and it was at Horton Park – so even though there are sure to be a few Blenheim bogans supporting, the venue poses no demons.  Add to this the return of classy Central Districts representative Willie Ludick and the Marlborough boys will be having nightmares as they prepare for Friday.

2: The Young Guns.  Nelson College opening bowler Jarrod McKay is in terrific form and after terrorizing the Marlborough batsman two weeks ago bowled another superb spell in taking 7/10 on Saturday.  David and Thomas Zohrab both scored half-centuries in the last outing and Felix Murray is virtually unplayable on the Horton Park deck.  Wicketkeeper Nic Clark, Josh Simpson, Paddy Howes, and Ben Hazlett are all only one or two years out of Nelson College so these boys will go the distance. These younger players all have the necessary fitness to last the rigors of the hot weather in the three-day game which their older opponents will not have.

3: Spin.  It is a well-known fact that Marlborough batsmen have never been able to master the turning ball.  Nelson is chock full of spinners – and quality ones at that.  Left-arm New Zealand Under 19 player Murray heads the pack but has a long and varied supporting cast.  David Zohrab is a talented off-spinner who is especially suited to tying up one end (generally as Murray creates carnage at the other). If for any reason Murray were not effective, then Paddy Howes is another very good and established left arm back up.  He offers a wide array and gives the ball a good rip.  With even further spin options available in Josh Simpson and Greg Hay this may well be the big trump card for the visitors.

4: Marlborough overconfidence: Marlborough will somehow attempt to claim bragging rights over their 1st innings win yet ultimate defeat in the last outing.  They will believe that the home ground advantage and the Dolphins fortuitous club results will magically transfer into representative success.  These are myths and will prove to be ill founded.

5: It’s time: The Nelson Pine Griffins have had a bit of a topsy-turvy season and that will have drawn the squad close together as they have fought with their backs against the wall to get through to this challenge.  They have experience to burn in their top order batting line-up with the return of gnarly Brendan Hodgson and evergreen Hay. They completed must win outright victories over both Buller and Marlborough to win the right to contest this final.  They deserve to be there and to take the next step.  Their time has come …   


Marlborough: Matthew Stretch (Captain), Luke Frankland, Ma’ara Ave, Probodha Arthavidu, Josh Poole, Tom Sutherland, Jerrym Lamb, Tarin Mason, Nick Weaver, Joel Lavender, Sam Boyce, Aidan Lavender, Benjamin Ivory-McCullum

Nelson Pine Griffins: Greg Hay (Captain), David Zohrab, Thomas Zohrab, Willie Ludick, Brendan Hodgson, Paddy Howes, Nic Clark, Felix Murray, Ben Stark, Jarrod Mckay, Josh Simpson, Sam Baxendine/ Ben Hazlett


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