Hawke Cup zone four gets under way today, with North Otago hosting South Canterbury and Otago Country traveling to Invercargill to play Southland. Mid Canterbury has the bye.
North Otago has one of their youngest lineups in recent memory, with five players — including four who are still at school — making their debut.
Waitaki Boys’ players Lochie Mavor, Hunter Wardle and Alex Wilson, who has been given the gloves, get their first taste of Hawke Cup, as does 16-year-old St Kevin’s College wicket keeper turned leg spinner Jack Kelly.
Former St Kevin’s College pupil Jacob Fowler also get his chance.
Jeremy Smith will lead the team again this season, adding some experience alongside vice-captain Nick Johnston and bowler Cameron Grubb.
Otago Country won the zone last year, but fell against Canterbury Country in their challenge for the Hawke Cup.
Ten players from last year’s challenge will line up against Southland today, providing plenty of experience for the Tussocks.
Cam Jackson captains the side, Sukhdev Singh and Charanjeet Singh were striking with the ball last season, and Thomas O’Connor, son of former Black Caps and Otago Volts bower Shayne, is back.
Bowler Toby Hart also returns after taking an impressive six wickets on debut last year.
Southland look solid, with a good number of players returning from last year’s squad.
Green Island brothers Jack and Jed Mockford add plenty, captain Brendan Domigan posted some big totals with the bat last season, Chris Chase will take the gloves and Sithum Niluminda is a proven wicket taker.
Young Otago Boys’ pupil Charlie Ottrey will make his debut.