Stu Slack has laid down a challenge to his Hawke Cup team — win all home games this season.
North Otago gets its first opportunity to do so this weekend, taking on South Canterbury at Centennial Park.
Slack said his team was excited and focused ahead of the match, having been training hard for the past two weeks.
‘‘I’m expecting a huge performance from the boys,’’ he said.
‘‘Obviously we need to get a result out of this game, so we’ve had some good preparation with our training over the last couple of weeks.
‘‘We’re going into the game confident and really switched on to do well.’’
South Canterbury played an aggressive style of cricket, scoring runs quickly.
North Otago would need to hit its areas with the ball well, be patient and put pressure on South Canterbury to force mistakes.
North Otago conceded a first innings loss to Otago Country last month and Slack said his side needed to reverse that performance with the bat.
‘‘We obviously did really well in the second innings down there but we need to make sure that happens in our first innings.
‘‘Hopefully we get a big score on the board, and bowl really well, and make them earn their runs.’’
Two changes had been made for this weekend’s match.
Scott Kitto comes in to replace Stephan Grobler, who is unavailable, and Blake James replaces youngster Ben Kay.
Kitto would take the reins as the main spinner, having been ‘‘second fiddle’’ for the past few seasons, and Slack was rapt to give him a shot.
‘‘He’s got a great opportunity this week to be lead in that department, be voice out in the field as well and obviously his batting comes in handy too,’’ Slack said.
James would add some depth to the pace bowling stocks, and provided a lot of experience.
Kay was a stand-out in North Otago A’s mammoth win against Otago Under-17 B last weekend. North Otago won the game by an innings and 128 runs.
Kay took seven wickets — two for 10 in the first innings, and a five-wicket bag for 33 in the second.
Ethan Booth was also outstanding, making 122 runs, knocking 14 boundaries, and Jaden Dowling (46) and Liam Direen (37) both made handy contributions.
Slack, who was at the game, said it was great to see the depth in North Otago, and he was impressed by Hawke Cup squad members Kay, Direen and Anthony Docherty.
‘‘I’ve identified a few other players in that team for potential Hawke Cup honours down the track too.’’
The Hawke Cup match will get under way at 10.30am tomorrow at Centennial Park.
The Dick Hunt holiday competition resumes tonight.
With two rounds left before finals, all six teams will be chasing important points to make the top two.
After the first two rounds of the season before Christmas — the last round was washed out
— Union sits at the top of the standings, having won both its games, followed by Albion, Glenavy and Oamaru President’s XI with one win a piece.
Tonight, Union hosts Oamaru Coach’s XI, Albion plays Glenavy and Valley takes on Oamaru President’s.
North Otago team to take on South Canterbury:
Lachie Kingan (C), Jeremy Smith (VC), Amal Ashok, Tom Dempster, Cameron Grubb, Blake James, Mason James, Llew Johnson, Nick Johnston, Scott Kitto, Jeremiah Shields, Thomas Shields, Quinn Wardle.