Premier Preview: “I’ll be disappointed if we don’t finish in the top three/four”
The Premier club cricket season is back for the 2017/18 season with the first round of Jeff Crowe Cup action getting underway this Saturday October 7th.
Teams have been working hard over the winter, with a bit of movement around the traps in both coaching and playing personal.
In our second edition of ‘Premier Preview’ we look at how Takapuna, Papatoetoe, Eden Roskill and East Coast Bays are shaping up for 2017/18.
Noteworthy: Defending Hedley Howarth and Jeff Crowe Cup champions, personnel changes at the top.
Andre Adams is heading into “unknown territory” with his first club coaching appointment at Takapuna Cricket Club this season.
Takapuna are the defending Hedley Howarth and Jeff Crowe Cup champions after a hugely successful 2016/17 campaign, something Adams says can be both a positive and negative.
“You are inheriting a team who know how to win, but you need to make sure they aren’t just resting on their laurels,” he says.
“My coaching style is a bit different to Shoruban who was hugely successful at the club.”
Adams is looking to get several of the ex-players involved, including Paul Hitchcock and Blake Douglas for the 2017/18 season.
One man who will be joining the ‘ex-player’ ranks is former captain Ryan Scivier, although Adams says ‘Sciv’ will be helping him out during the season.
“He may also put his hand up for some T20 stuff, although that might be a bit of a longshot,” Adams says.
Will O’Donnell will lead the Takapuna side as they look to defend their two titles and will no doubt lean on the experience of his new coach.
“The club’s culture and values will continue to be upheld, a big aim we have as a club this season is to get the community more involved,” Adams says.
MAN IN THE STANDS SAYS: Quality side throughout and were tough to beat on Onewa last season. They’ve lost their talisman in Ryan Scivier, will they miss his on-field nouse?
Noteworthy: Ollie Pringle back after a year away, he offers all-round options with batting, bowling and footwear.
The boys out south are cooking up something special for season 2017/18 if you talk to player/coach and former Auckland Ace Bhupinder Singh.
Stephen Money will once again captain the Papatoetoe side which has a settled look to it.
“The squad looks pretty strong,” says Singh.
“Ollie Pringle is back after a year down in Northern Districts and with Counties. We also have another young, promising cricketer in Josh Plummer joining the side.”
“We started training in mid-July and had good numbers, we’ve also been on a trip to Mount
Maunganui for team building and the boys loved it, they are all looking forward to the season ahead.”
Singh says there’s a few of his lads in and around the Auckland ‘A’ setup, notably Nav Aujla, Logan Clark and Ollie Pringle.
“Those three are promising cricketers, if they can put in good performances for us that will bring success for the club and in turn individually for them. They’ve done a lot of work in the off-season so hopefully that pays off,” says Singh.
The Papatoetoe side are hoping with a balanced squad they can go deep in all three formats this summer, Singh not afraid of laying his expectations on the table…
“I’ll be disappointed if we don’t finish in the top three/top four in all three formats. No pressure on the players but that’s what I expect!”
MAN IN THE STANDS SAYS: I was walking the dog last season on the Smiths Bush track at Onewa Domain and stumbled across an afternoon session where spin twins Aujla and Singh ripped through the eventual two-day champions – Takapuna. They were devastating that day and could be the key to Pap’s success this season.
East Coast Bays CC
Noteworthy: Top four Hedley Howarth two-day competition, T20 quarter finals in 2016/17.
East Coast Bays will be looking to build on a solid 2016/17 season when they start their Jeff Crowe Cup campaign this Saturday against Papatoetoe.
“It’s been a reasonably quiet off-season for player/coach Louis Delport, with one team member and friend departing the club in search of greener pastures.
“We’ve lost one of our senior members with Andy Lane going to Parnell,” says Delport.
“I’m sad to see Andy go, he’s been a key member of the team since I’ve been there. I had the privilege of staying at his house when I first moved to New Zealand too so there’s a personal connection there also.”
But it’s not all bad for ECB with a wealth of younger talent coming to them from the surrounding schools including the likes of Ryan Harrison and Ryan Schierhout.
“All of these guys have previous Premier experience so we’ll be looking forward to them joining us at various stages,” Delport says.
The player/coach is optimistic about his side’s chances this season and says while they will look to compete in all three formats, their main focus is the two-day competition and vying for the Hedley Howarth title.
MAN IN THE STANDS SAYS: I have it on good authority that the young lads joining this group have plenty of talent. If Delport can nurture them and keep his bowling plans for Andy Lane under wraps, ECB are looking good.
Eden Roskill CC
Noteworthy: Azhar Abbas and Tarun Nethula bolster ERCC bowling attack.
The additions of former domestic cricketer Azhar Abbas and current Auckland Ace Tarun Nethula will bring a much-needed boost of experience to the Eden Roskill team for the 2017/18 season.
Player/coach Barrington Rowland says his boys are in a good head space this season and have been doing plenty of work in the off-season to improve on their 2016/17 efforts.
“We are targeting the two-day comp to break into the top division, but with the other formats we have a much better balance to the team and this side could cause some upsets,” Rowland says.
“The old war horse Azhar Abbas is back and will be leading the team as captain. His experience will definitely make a huge difference in our bowling as we have a young bowling outfit.”
While the likes of Raja Sandhu and Nethula will be tied up with the Aces for the majority of the season, Rowland still sees having them around the squad as a valuable resource for the younger members to tap into.
“We lost four games by one wicket in the two-day comp last year, that hurt our confidence, as a young team those are hard lessons to learn but we have grown from that,” says Rowland.
This is an Eden Roskill side who Rowland says are “not far off” and with a bolstered bowling attack we could see a turnaround in 2017/18.
“The team has firepower to do damage against good teams, it’s just a matter of starting well.”
MAN IN THE STANDS SAYS: There will be several Premier opening batsmen who won’t be looking forward to facing Azhar hooping it both ways early on. If the batting can back up the bowling for Eden Roskill they could ruffle feathers.