Eligibility changes could boost the North Otago cricket team this summer but selector Duncan Drew is not rushing to find imports at the cost of developing local talent.
The Hawke Cup is forever tinkering with eligibility rules and has cooked up another interesting one this summer.
Any player who had at least three years’ schooling in a district will be able to be selected for that district’s representative team.
“It’s made it quite broad,” Drew told the Oamaru Mail.
“But you still need to look after your own players. Bringing a lot of imports in could put off local guys, and we don’t want to do that.
“If you’ve got local talent, you want to give it a chance.”
The most obvious boost for North Otago could be the return of Ben Cant, who was in spectacular form with the bat last summer as North Otago won the Hawke Cup for a second time.
Drew has spoken to Cant and Jordan Horrell, last season’s captain, both of whom are now in Christchurch, and is waiting to hear if they want to keep playing in a maroon cap.
There is a new-look management team – Drew is joined by new manager Peter Cartwright and senior player Craig Smith, who has returned to Oamaru, on the selection panel – and a squad is being finalised.
North Otago has warm-up games against South Canterbury (November 20, Oamaru) and Mid Canterbury (November 27, Ashburton) before its opening Hawke Cup game against Otago Country in Oamaru on December 3-4.
The plan is to use the new block at the back of Centennial Park for home games, and Drew was heartened to hear the Otago Volts had provided positive feedback after their training camp in Oamaru last week.
“I think it’s going to have good pace and good bounce. We’re looking forward to playing on it.”
A scratch game against the North East Valley Cricket Club was cancelled last weekend due to bad weather.
Drew and about 10 other North Otago cricketers attended the funeral of Andrew Grubb, last Thursday. Grubb, the Hawke Cup wicketkeeper, died on September 16 from injuries sustained in a quad-bike accident.
“Quite a few of our guys were good mates with Andrew.