Canterbury will roll out another settled group of cricketers for the 2019/20 domestic season and that means that a hefty contingent of younger lads will rally around OG veteran Andrew Ellis. Ellis and Stephen Murdoch are the only grizzly vets in this Canterbury list, although there is no shortage of experience in this Canterbury group and the majority of the younger Cantabs have been playing plenty of domestic cricket in recent summers.
Theo van Woerkom
Also consider that Todd Astle and Matt Henry could be of service a fair bit this summer. Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls are established Blackcaps at this point, while Astle and Henry are still lurking on the fringes and that offers another little Blackaps sub-plot that I might write about; will Astle and Henry level up as Blackcaps this summer? I throw this up because there is a possibility that Astle and Henry will play a lot of domestic cricket this summer.
Jackson Latham and Fraser Sheat are the new lads to earn contracts. Latham is yet to make domestic debut, while Sheat has played a bunch of First Class and List-A fixtures already. Canterbury are aligned with the greater kiwi cricket trend with a younger wave moving into domestic cricket, making Ellis and Murdoch the only link to a previous era in the contracted player list.
My vibe from this Canterbury list is one of much potential, perhaps lacking the top-tier level of talent that the other teams have. This isn't a knock on Canterbury though as they have a very solid group of younger players and while I don't feel confident in highlighting a few players as having more potential or x-factor as others, there is a fabulous opportunity for individuals to rise above the pack.
That's from a wider kiwi cricket perspective where I'm looking for lads to command further attention, for players to showcase their talents and put themselves in that group of players who sit below the wider Blackcaps group. Canterbury though, don't need that and in terms of winning cricket games across the formats, Canterbury just need steady contributions from players who know what domestic cricket is about.
Canterbury will need to find a bowling combination that can do the job considering that Matt Henry was their best Plunket Shield bowler last summer (21.17avg in four games) and their next best seamer was Kyle Jamieson (18.80avg in three games). Ed Nuttall was the only other Cantab seamer from their large group of seamers, who averaged under 30 and Nuttall only played one game.
Andrew Hazeldine: 39.26avg in seven games.
Will Williams: 33.69avg in six.
Henry Shipley: 49.28avg in five.
Fraser Sheat: 36.20avg in two.
Same goes for their Ford Trophy antics...
Andrew Hazeldine: 69.75avg in six.
Henry Shipley: 46.66avg in eight.
Will Williams: 37.18avg in nine.
No Jamieson and maybe a bit of Henry means that one of this young seam group will have to step up and take those averages below 30. Someone has to aim to average 25 in either format and that could depend on the health of Nuttall who is now a leader of the seam attack, although he has struggled to stay on the field consistently in recent summers.
There is no shortage of spinners to take the load off these seamers. Cole McConchie averaged 22.91 in Plunket Shield and 20.84 in Ford Trophy with his offies, while Blake Coburn (lefty leggy) and Theo van Woerkom (lefty tweakers) will be fighting for game time. McConchie is my pick to keep close tabs on as someone who could hit a nek level considering his impressive work with the ball and that he is now the rock of the batting line up; don't be surprised to see McConchie rack up big batting numbers, with solid bowling stuff.
Cameron Fletcher will also be looking to build on last summer as he averaged 46 in Plunket Shield and 38 in Ford Trophy. Still behind the likes of Tom Blundell and Tim Seifert, Fletcher feels like he's in a hot battle with CD Stags wicket-keeper Dane Cleaver to be the next in line for the great kiwi wicket-keeper rankings. Fletcher has to score in all formats, which he showed signs of last summer bringing in Plunket Shield runs to go with his powerful white-ball strokes.
Chad Bowes, Jack Boyle, Leo Carter and Ken McClure offer the same intrigue as the bowling unit. All four of these lads have had moments in domestic cricket and even last season, Carter averaged 28.90 in Plunket Shield, while Bowes averaged 46 in Ford Trophy with Boyle averaging 55.40. McClure only played a few games last summer, but in terms of pure batting ability he may be the best of the bunch and his general absence last summer may have McClure eager to remind folks of his quality.
Canterbury may not quite have the same upper echelon talent as other teams and that could lead to a few struggles as they search for their best mix. Don't sleep on Canterbury though as they have the depth and decent talent to be pose a threat, while I'm also extremely curious as to who emerges as their best batsmen and bowlers.