It will come as a shock to nobody that Rugby have targeted in-form teen Brock Larance as the key wicket when the teams meet for day two of their RSL-Whitney Cup clash at No.3 Oval on Saturday.
Larance, last year’s leading runscorer in the first grade competition, belted 206 in a school match against Wellington Thursday, indicating he has carried his rich vein of form into the new season.
A James O’Brien century guided Rugby to 8-323 last Saturday and while Rugby are content with their total, all-rounder Aidan Bennewith said his side will need to see the back of Larance early if they want to defend it.
“He’s obviously the key wicket and the one we need to get pretty cheap,” Bennewith said.
“They’re a young side and they have a lot of talent, but he is a rare talent, he can win games by himself so we need to take any chances he might give us.
“We can’t underestimate the other guys as well, but if he gets going they will get off to a good start. We need to shut them out early and make them chase the game.”
Rugby were the big disappointments of the 2016/17 season, and while they had a young side themselves last season missing the finals and playing uninspired cricket doesn’t fit with the culture they have built in recent seasons.
Bennewith concedes the style of cricket wasn’t good, but said there is a renewed vigour in the ranks this season.
“Last year was about development. We had three or four guys who hadn’t played much first grade, we lost games early and we dropped our heads,” he said.
“That is why it’s important that we win this game on Saturday and get ourselves off to the best start possible.
“Across the board I think it’s going to be a pretty even competition, and there’s only one round of two-day games so winning those is going to be vital.”
Bennewith has been more renowned for his batting over recent seasons, but is hopeful some extra bowling work done in the off-season will reap rewards.
His left-arm orthodox will form part of Rugby’s spin options with legspinner Adrian Carey, adding variety to the attack.
“Last year Adrian didn’t play and I was thrown the ball a bit out of necessity,” Bennewith said.
“Because I play indoor I’m bowling through the winter anyway but I’ve worked on it and hopefully it can reap some results along the way.”