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HAWKE CUP -Pressure on Nelson Griffins

The Nelson Pine Griffins once again face a must-win encounter against arch-rivals Marlborough this weekend to remain in the hunt for a Hawke Cup challenge.  While mathematically a substantial first innings lead could be enough, realistically an outright victory is required in the two-day clash at Blenheim’s Horton Park.

Nelson coach Ryan Edwards has understandably wrung the changes from the depleted squad that trounced Buller in December as higher representative commitments make less impact to availabilities.  Skipper Greg Hay leads a team which appears to boast a very well-balanced line up of batting and bowling options. The batsmen have all been getting runs in club and rep cricket over the last month.  The Zohrab boys, Paddy Howes, and Devon Serrurier have been especially prolific. 

The bowling attack will be led by mediums Sam Baxendine, big Jarrod McKay, in form Ben Hazlett and debutant Ben Stark.  In Felix Murray, Paddy Howes and David Zohrab the team has a real triple threat with the spinners and Sam Field and Hay could lengthen that even further.  To win outright Nelson will need to bowl Marlborough out twice so this group may well bear the brunt of the province’s expectations.

Edwards is well aware of the need to take 20 wickets to ensure the ultimate goal but is equally realistic that it will not be an easy task.  “We will endeavour to apply pressure early on day one then stick to our plans and re-asses session by session,” he said.  “We have selected a spin-heavy lineup and believe that left armer Ben Stark will allow us a point of difference with our medium attack.”

Stark is the only player on debut, but he will not be daunted as has plenty of experience having represented Marlborough on numerous occasions.  He is fresh off a five-wicket bag in club cricket, which he also complemented with a tidy half-century.  The unlucky players to miss out were probably Josh Newport, Josh Simpson, and Brendon Hodgson.  All performed well when they got the call up in Westport, but the selectors had to make the difficult decision and pick who they believed were the right horses for courses for this vital fixture.

Marlborough will be without Ben Wheeler who will be with Nelson’s Josh Clarkson and Willie Luddick in the Central Stags team and Marlborough will also lose Tom Sutherland and Joel Lavender to the Central Districts Under 17 team.  They still have plenty of players who have been in good nick in the TPL including Probodha Arthavidu, Josh Poole and captain Matthew Stretch.   Marlborough also has the advantage of knowing that avoiding defeat is their key priority and accordingly the pitch at Horton Park is sure to be flat.

This promises to be a huge challenge for the Nelson bowling attack, but this team has already proven this season that they can perform when the chips are down.  The chips are well and truly on the table for Saturday.


Nelson Pine Griffins: Greg Hay (Captain), Thomas Zohrab, David Zohrab, Sam Field, Paddy Howes, Nic Clark, Devon Serrurier, Ben Hazlett, Felix Murray, Sam Baxendine, Jarrod McKay, Ben Stark

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

NELSON, NEW ZEALAND – DECEMBER 1: Nelson Pine Griffins v Canterbury Country Hawke Cup 1/12/18on December 1 at Saxton Oval 2018 in Nelson, New Zealand. (Photo by: Evan Barnes Shuttersport Limited)


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