Cricket’s Tasman Premier League competition begins on Saturday with two Marlborough-based sides and six Nelson teams, including one newcomer, in the mix.
Stoke-Nayland, who took out the 2018/19 title will be back and an obvious pre-league favourite.
Also firmly in with a shout will be the Dolphins, last year’s losing finalist, and the Falcons. The two Marlborough combinations have been prominent in recent seasons and should feature at the business end again.
The newcomer, bringing the total teams to eight and eliminating the bye this season, is Wanderers/Motueka. Neither the Wanderers nor Motueka clubs have been able to field a competitive senior team in recent years. The common-sense approach was taken, and the two clubs have amalgamated to get back up with the big boys.
The TPL will again consist of a double round-robin. Round one sees Falcons host Wakatu at Horton 1 while Dolphins meet WTTU on the adjoining pitch. Nelson College will host new boys Wanderers/Motueka at Ngawhatu and ACOB travel out to challenge Stoke/Nayland at Marsden Rec. All fixtures begin at 11.30am.
Meet the teams
The Dolphins chances of success this season will depend heavily on the skills of key players Jerrym Lamb, Josh Poole and MCA development officer Prabodha Athavidu. The trio of influential all-rounders played a big input in propelling their side to the 2018-19 TPL final. Lamb’s medium pacers, coupled with Arthavidu’s off spin and Poole’s left arm spin accounted for the majority of the Dolphins overs last season. They are also accomplished batsmen, making for a formidable top order, backed up by the likes of Luke Frankland and Rikki Bovey, who is back in the fold this season. Ben Blackman is another talented all-rounder who will be a key with the ball, alongside former Wakatu opening bowler Cody Golding.
Squad: Prabodha Arthavidu, Jerrym Lamb, Josh Poole, Luke Frankland, Akhil Pant, Akhil Bhardvaj, Piers Landon-Lane, Kirk Nicholas, Hayden Gaudin, Ricki Bovey, Iain Charles-Jones, Ben Blackman, Jack Holdaway, Liam Young, Logan Robinson.
The Falcons have named a large squad to cover for the fact several players will be unavailable in the early stages of the season and a couple are injured.
Their challenge will be based around rep players Matthew Stretch, who will lead the side, left-arm pace bowler Nick Weaver, Sam Boyce, Tarin Mason, Alex Kennedy, Benjamin Ivory-McCullum and Ma’ara Ave, whose participation will depend on his CD commitments. Although up-and-coming all-rounder Joel Lavender is struggling with injury at this stage, fellow youngsters Patrick Moran, Cooper Roberts, Cameron Collins and Joel Pannell will be given a chance to show their skills in the top of the south league.
Inconsistency blighted the Falcons’ efforts last season, although they reached the play-offs, and they will be hoping to string some good results together early on.
Squad: Matthew Stretch (captain), Nick Weaver (vice-captain), Patrick Moran, Cameron Collins, Sam Boyce, Tarin Mason, Harrison Boyce, Alex Kennedy, Chris Turkington, Ma’ara Ave, Benjamin Ivory-McCullum, Andrew McCaa, Joel Lavender, Cooper Roberts, Greg Stretch, Heath Murphy, Harry MacDonald, Joel Pannell.
Wanderers-Motueka will be largely made of a core of Wanderers regulars, backed with promising Motueka up-and-comers and a couple of overseas pros. Player/coach will be Englishman Max Mannering, an off spinner and a handy batsman. Zade Mohamnard, an Afghani out of England, is a genuine left arm quick who has been released from his English club side. Boe Bamford is a highly-regarded youngster while old hand Hayden Ingham will provide support with middle innings overs.
Stoke-Nayland will be looking for Patrick Howes to have a big year, plus overseas seamer Tom Chambers who is expected to add some heat to their attack. The champions also welcome former Griffins all-rounder Liam Clark back from Christchurch. His arrival offsets the losses of Ili Tugaga, Symon Carr, Sam Chamberlain and Clayton Campbell. Stoke-Nayland will boast their usual club stalwarts in skipper Brendan Hodgson, vice-captain Dylan Eginton, Chris Dittmer, Ricky Edwards, Ben Stark, Darius Skeaping, Ben Homan and Kurt Pahl.
The Nelson College 1st XI will have their usual battles, losing a number of senior players to tertiary education this year. Fergus Hughes, Damien Aitken and Louis MacAlister will be playing for Wakatu, however College have retained the services of opening bowler Jarrod McKay and younger sibling Kaleb. Finn Restieaux, Mason Lund and the Raxworthy twins, Finn and Jonty, will be key players. Garry MacDonald returns as coach.
ACOB have their entire 2018-19 squad returning for the upcoming campaign, apart from Nic Clark. They will also welcome quick bowler Nibu Jose, a talented youngster with overseas experience. Former players Duncan Taylor, Joseph Gregan, Jake Milton and Daniel Grimes make a return. ACOB will look to the experience of Milton, Greg Chitty, Reuben Smith, Horse Baumfield, James Graham and last season’s club MVP Matt Eden to provide early momentum, plus captain and coach BJ Barnett.
Wakatu will be without skipper Devon Serrurier this season so Campbell McLean will lead them around the paddock. They will largely depend on the likes of Daniel Hooper and Brad Smith to lead the way with bat in hand and for Ryan Hooper and Matt O’Sullivan to dictate terms with the ball. The all-round contributions of Jared Exeter, Campbell McLean, Aitken and Liam Rowling will also have a bearing on their success rate. Veteran Mason Robinson will again be behind the stumps as he prepares for the Over 50s world cup next year.
WTTU will be led again by bowling all-rounder Sam Baxendine, surrounded by some of the experienced senior leaders from last year. Joey O’Connor, Mason Thelin and Tom Cross will be expected to make major contributions. The only major loss from last season is all-rounder Kurt Thompson to Australia while Josh Newport has returned from playing in Ireland.