The Canterbury Country men’s senior representative cricket team will host its first defence of the hallowed Hawke Cup in Rangiora later this week.
Spectators are welcome to Mainpower Oval to watch Country host a challenging Otago Country in a three-day match starting on Friday.
Country, captained by Leeston-Southbridge star batsman Harry Chamberlain, won the Hawke Cup – the premier non-first class cricket competition for New Zealand’s district associations, off Hamilton last month.
The victory came on the back of outstanding quick bowling from Canterbury seam bowler Henry Shipley who took nine wickets for the match and former Black Caps player Shanan Stewart’s classy first-innings century. Rupert Young, brother of Central Stags star Will Young, scored a composed 50 in the second innings with wickets tumbling at the other end.
Ex-Dutch international Tim Gruijters also took two crucial wickets at the end of the second day’s play removing Hamilton captain Keir Bettley (55) and former Black Caps top-order batsman Anton Devcich (39), after both Bettley and Devcich looked set to give Hamilton a substantial lead which would have put a lot more pressure on Canterbury Country on the last day.
Canterbury Country last won the Hawke Cup in the 2014/15 season, beating Manawatu in Palmerston North.
It then defended the cup once against North Otago before losing it in the 2015/16 first defence against Buller.
Since then, Country has unsuccessfully challenged for the cup against Counties Manukau.
The defence starting Friday will see a new-look bowling attack for Country with Shipley back on Canterbury duties and leading paceman Arafat Bhuiyan returning to the UK. Jed Roberts is also out with an injury sustained while playing for Sefton last Saturday.
Possible seam replacements include Cheviot and Christchurch Boys’ High School 1st Xl player Angus Sidey, Southbrook’s Luan Blom and Will Smith of Cheviot, with both Sidey and Smith have already had a taste of Hawke Cup cricket this season. Joe Williams – brother of Canterbury seam bowler Will Williams – who was 12th man in Hamilton will also be an option as an additional batting and spin bowling option.
The three-day match defence against Otago Country begins on Friday at Rangiora’s Mainpower Oval and spectators are welcome to come a long and watch.
Those unable to get to the ground can keep up to date with the match through the NZ Cricket live scorecard on the NZ Cricket website – https://scoring.nzc.nz/.