By Jim Birchall
Premier cricket gets underway in just under three weeks’ time with the Jeff Crowe Cup kicking things off.
Looking to get their hands on the trophy will be the Howick Pakuranga Premier side, who start their campaign at home on October 19 against Birkenhead
Having already claimed the Hedley Howarth two-day championship and the T20 prize, they will be looking to add the 50 over title to their bulging trophy cabinet.
This year Howick Pakuranga – known as the Alpacas – is helmed by a new captain in Andrew Morrison and coached by veteran Alan Hunt.
The Times caught up with coach Hunt and started by asking about any personnel changes in the first XI over the winter?
“Last year’s squad is largely intact, with the exception being Cam Neal (who is) transferring to Parnell. Liam Winn has concluded his studies at Lincoln University and joins the squad. Oliver Blandford, an all-rounder, provides some additional depth and follows his brother Matt to New Zealand, from the UK, for the summer.
Veteran Ace’s all-rounder Donovan Grobbelaar is available all season, and Hunt says Black Cap stars Glenn Phillips, Mitchell McClenaghan and Colin Munro may be included during a small window in December. The seamer ranks are stacked, with Aces’ pacemen Matt McEwan, Jamie Brown, and Danru Ferns, to pitch up as Auckland commitments allow.
The team also has a stream of talented youngsters on the books. Adam Jones, Daniel Young, Kieren Mackenzie, Phillips , Taine Jolley & Brandan Laurenzi are all 22 or younger, which bodes well for the depth within the club and their future solidity.
This theme is reflected in the club’s overall playing numbers with an approximate membership of 800 across the board, including a ten percent rise in juniors.
Birkenhead CC are first-up opponents, clashing on home ground at Lloyd Elsmore Park on October 19.