One-dayers to start club season
For the first time since Twenty20 was introduced to the Hamilton premier club cricket calendar nine years ago, the association won’t look to open their season with the shortest format.
Play gets under way this weekend - a week later than its usual first-Saturday-in-October start time - with the players to get straight into 50-over mode, in the Hamilton/Waikato Valley combined limited-overs competition.
To start off, Hamilton’s six clubs - Marist-Suburbs, Hamilton Boys’ High School, Fraser-Tech (Pool One), Star University, Old Boys and Melville (Pool Two) - join six from the Valley - Morrinsville, Otorohanga, Hinuera (Pool One), defending champions Cambridge, St Paul’s Collegiate School and Te Awamutu (Pool Two) - in a fiveweek competition on artificial pitches, with a final to be staged sometime afterwards.
The winner of the competition (or the highest-placed non-school side) will also double as the qualifier for the Northern Districts club championship semifinals, eliminating the need for one playoff round.
It will be the second season of the combined competition, which last year came after the scheduled three-week season-opening Richard Dodunski Trophy T20 competition, which was also to be a combined one between the associations for the first time.
However, after the first three weekends of last season were washed out, the players’ first taste of action was the 50-over version, with Hamilton going on to play their own Tuesday evening T20 competition later in the summer.
Hamilton Cricket general manager Rupert Hodgson said that format would again run this season - starting in late January - and, in turn, with the unpredictable spring weather, it was also decided to start the season a week later than normal.
It may be the last of the midweek T20s though, with Sundays a likely option in future, in order to ease the load on ground staff, who would find it more practical to produce pitches for back-toback days rather than have days in between.
The Eddy Marr Bowl, comprising one-dayers and two-dayers will start on November 18, with the aim for that weekend to be the first on grass wickets.
The representative season begins one week before that, with the first round of the Fergus Hickey Rosebowl on November 11-12, which, along with the second round on November 25-26, counts for Hawke Cup points to earn a challenge against holders Bay of Plenty.
Hamilton are in prime position, atop the standings on 30 points - nine ahead of second-placed Northland - and will this season have Brook Hatwell as player/coach for a second season, having been the only applicant for the role. Fellow player Michael Dodunski was a cocoach last summer, but will take charge of the B side.
Meanwhile, Poverty Bay are drawing back their involvement in the rep season, as they look to focus on building their depth and becoming more competitive.
The perennial strugglers - who sit last on the six-team Hawke Cup standings, on six points - will still host Waikato Valley in round one to ensure each side has played them for the calendar-year Hawke Cup points, but then will forfeit their game in round two, as its against holders Bay of Plenty anyway.
Poverty Bay will then play games against the associations’ B sides, though they will still compete in the Northern Districts limited-overs competition - the Brian Dunning Cup, in Taupo in December, which is this season going to feature only T20s, rather than also one-dayers.