CRICKET: A new premier one team is the big change for the Manawatū club cricket competition due to start on Saturday, weather permitting.
There have been few changes to most sides this year and Feilding have been promoted to premier one after a run of success in premier two, which takes the top competition to seven teams.
The season starts with the one-dayers and with the extra team, the top four teams will qualify for the semifinals instead of three.
Feilding have kept the same team that served them well in premier two.
Veteran left-arm seamer Kit Bradley will captain the side and lead the seam bowling attack, along with all-rounder Andre Hoggard and Kyle Grove.
Ryan Gildea, Dave McIntyre and Cam McNaught, who has played for Freyberg’s premier one team, will be their main batsmen, along with all-rounder Matthew Janes and wicketkeeper Caleb Larsen.
Marist, who won both the one-day and two-day competitions last year, have lost a couple of important players, but should still have a strong squad.
Former Manawatū captain and batsman Dave Meiring has retired, Central Districts paceman Navin Patel is staying in England, bowler Jack Gleeson is still overseas and seamer Dylan Lynch is out for the season with a back injury.
Spinning all-rounder Arana Noema-Barnett will captain the team and there is still a good lineup, including wicketkeeper-batsman Whetu Na Nagara, all-rounder Floyd Na Nagara, batsman Dylan Gaskin, spinner Nic Carter and all-rounder Hugh Symes.
Root Bolamma, an opening batsman from Auckland, has joined the side.
Bowlers such as Floyd Na Nagara and Symes may have to shoulder more of a workload this year.
Last season’s twenty20 champions United have essentially the same team.
Batsman Logan McHardy will captain the side again, with Mason Hughes, wicketkeeper Ma’ara Ave, Hayden Hill, Ben O’Connor and veteran Robbie James all back in the batting department.
Spinners Braden Rowe and Felix Murray, and seamers Jack Harris and Cam Harris should form the basis of their bowling attack.
Their only loss is batsman Akhil Pant, who has moved to Marlborough, while left-armer Phil Mecredy left last season for work in Auckland.
Palmerston North Boys’ High School have a settled team from the second half of last season.
Wicketkeeper batsman Ruben Love, who was in the New Zealand under-19 team this year, will be available once his rugby commitments finish.
Curtis Heaphy and Henry Deans will be key batsmen, while spinner Hugo Wakeling and seamer Thomas Kirk are back. Opening batsman and spinner Jack Wenham is the captain.
Player-coach Scott Davidson should play a crucial role with the bat again.
There are six year 13s in the team who will leave the team after Christmas.
Palmerston are hoping for a better season after struggling for numbers last year.
They have a more settled squad now and have been boosted by the return of experienced all-rounder Rob Sheary, who was living in Wellington last year and commuting to play. He will be the player-coach this year.
Rep seamer Carlos Jensen will captain the team again and all-rounder Gurpeet Singh should be another key man.
A couple of premier two players have come up to the top side.
Most of the usual suspects are back for Old Boys, with the exception of two losses.
All-rounder Robbie Yule (New Plymouth) and batsman Brynn Cleaver (United Kingdom) have left the region. Medium-pacer Jayden Richards is unlikely to play.
Seam-bowling all-rounder Tim Richards takes the captaincy mantle this year, and has a bunch of experienced players with him in batsman Trent McGrath, batsman Robbie Laird, all-rounder Matt Borren and batsman Bryce Grant.
Left-arm paceman Ray Toole will spearhead their attack, with support from Steven Bennett. Medium-pacer Brad Childs has returned and will add valuable experience.
Freyberg have had few changes from last year, but have been boosted by the return of veteran batsman and former Manawatū captain Luke Murray, who will add valuable experience as player-coach.
But they have lost rep all-rounder Thomas Kuggeleijn, who will play in premier two for Dannevirke, where he lives.
All-rounder Bryn Wilson, who also took the wicketkeeping gloves last year, is captain this season.
Seamer Brad Fulton will lead their bowling attack along with Cameron Harridge, while Harry Wenham gives them a spin option.
They will need runs from batsmen Charles Parker, Caleb Hansen and Thomas Walshe. They have a couple of players away at university who should be available later in the summer.
Medium pacer Andy Grubb won’t be available due to work and seamer Ali Akhter should be available after Christmas.
This week: Boys’ High v Old Boys, United v Feilding, Marist v Freyberg, Palmerston bye.