Team attitude impresses new coach

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Stu Slack has been having some restless nights.

The Hawke Cup coach has had a problem – picking a North Otago team for the season opener against Otago Country, in Alexandra, tomorrow.

“Everyone’s keen and wanting spots; there’s a lot of competition which is good,” Slack said.

“I’ve been losing some sleep at night just thinking about what we need to do, which is a good position to be in.”

Tomorrow’s match is Slack’s first as head coach. He met with North Otago officials on Sunday night to discuss Otago Country’s player pool and what North Otago’s combinations needed to look like to beat them.

Slack said he was impressed by his players’ attitudes and work ethic at training.

They would need to play as a team, maximise their opportunities and buy into North Otago’s game plan.

“In this team we fight. We fight hard. We’ve got a never-give-up attitude. That’s what we’re about and that’s what we’re going to go down there to do.”

Captain Lachie Kingan and vice-captain Llew Johnson, part of North Otago’s Hawke Cup win in February, were invaluable to the side, he said.

Slack was yet to meet Johnson, who was playing for Otago Volts A, but had spoken to him on the phone a handful of times.

“Their input comes into play with it all. It’s been really good to utilise their knowledge.”

North Otago made the most of what it could from its warm-up games.

The team played Dunedin Metropolitan last weekend, and took on North Otago A, a development squad, last month before the match was abandoned due to rain. North Otago’s warm-up fixture against South Canterbury was also washed out.

Slack said he was impressed with what his team delivered against North Otago A, especially the performances of St Kevin’s College cricketers Ben Kay, Lachlan Brookes and Liam Direen.

“What I’ve noticed is the young guys have certainly added a lot of excitement and enthusiasm to the group.

“The three of them actually performed really well and were probably in our top five players bowling and in the field which is great.”

Scores from tomorrow’s match would be posted on the North Otago Cricket Facebook page throughout the day.

Jeremiah Shields will bring up his 50th Hawke Cup match tomorrow, and was presented his cap at a ceremony on Wednesday night.

North Otago team to take on Otago Country in Alexandra tomorrow:

Lachie Kingan (c), Llew Johnson (vc, subject to availability), Tom Dempster, Stephan Grobler, Cameron Grubb, Blake James, Nicholas Johnston, Ben Kay (debut), Jeremiah Shields, Thomas Shields, Jeremy Smith, Amal Ashok (stand-by for Johnston), Quinn Wardle (travelling 12th man). Coach: Stu Slack.