FOR ONCE Lincoln Doull hopes the likes of Jim Hickey, Tamati Coffey, Renee Wright and Mike Hall are wrong.
"They mean well those weather forecasters but they just don't always get it right," the Pay Excellence Hawke's Bay senior men's cricket team coach says before this weekend's Hawke Cup elimination round match against Wairarapa in Masterton.
Almost the entire country is under threat of rain this weekend as the two sides prepare to play at Queen Elizabeth Park Oval.
In two changes, Doull and fellow selectors Dale Smidt and David Black have dropped young Taradale CC fast bowler Driaan Lubbe while Craft and Hern Havelock North CC speed merchant Kurt Richards returns as the new-ball opener.
"I spoke with Driaan at training last night (Wednesday). You know, he's not performed badly with the ball but the selectors felt Kurt's a better bowler and he's our first choice and go-to guy.
"Unfortunately, Driaan slips down back to club level cricket to do well and make the most of his chances. He's a good kid."
Taradale batsman Luke Kenworthy also misses the cut with Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay opener Stephen Pimm returning to the fold after some out-of-sorts form early this summer.
"Luke started very well with a good 70 odd but he's had four bats since and just 12 runs in total and not all for just Hawke's Bay but at club cricket as well.
"He feels all right still but he hasn't really produced the goods," Doull says.
The 21-year-old landscape architecture student at Victoria University was asked to make runs at premier club level and he had had a knock of 40 odd although nothing too write home about.
"Pimmy's put pressure on others and he hasn't set back to think what-if, what-if and just got on with it."
Taradale spinner Harshil Pandya is in the mix but teenager Angus Schaw had done well with the bat and the ball at last weekend's age-group tournament in Napier.
Doull said Wairarapa gave the Bay a good battle last summer and should prove equally competitive this time.
"No way are they easybeats," he says of the side that took first-innings points off Manawatu in the previous Hawke Cup round.
The hosts have Dutch international Peter Borren, not wanted for the Central Districts Stags' HRV Cup Twenty/20 campaign starting tomorrow in Dunedin, making his debut as captain. They also welcome the return of former Stags seamer Seth Rance back after a long lay-off from an injury.
Stags allrounder Greg Todd is unavailable because he'll be attending a friend's wedding.
"Peter is a quality player because he's played internationally and for CD so we can't take him lightly," Doull says.
Add to that line-up lanky left-hand batsman Sam Curtis, a "handy" allrounder Dean van Deventer, who is also harbours ambitions to secure a Stags berth, and Henry Cameron, who Doull reckons went well against the Bay last summer, and one starts getting a picture of Wairarapa's strength.
The Bay lost crucial first-innings points to Taranaki in Napier last month and need to claim maximum points from most games in the hope of leaving their fate for a cup challenge in the hands of other teams in the CD region.
Doull feels the table is tight - Taranaki and Manawatu are only about four points ahead of the Bay and Wairarapa.
The James De Terte-skippered Bay, boasting a respectable batting line-up on paper, have struggled with the bat as the top six continue to find consistency for a decent innings.
They had shown their potential against Horowhenua-Kapiti.
"We're very dangerous when our top order can make say 250 for 3 and that'll make our tail order equally dangerous," Doull says, adding one top partnership, as De Terte and Complete Flooring Napier Technical Old Boys Bronson Meehan showed to the tune of 100 odd runs in the second innings of their previous round.
The likes of prolific run scorer Michael Taiaroa, from Heretaunga Building Society Cornwall Cricket Club, and teammate Morten Freer should do the trick.
Tech's CD Stag Stevie Smidt brings all-round quality with Taradale's Luke Wright and Cornwall keeper Seb Langridge also handy with the bat.
For the Hawke Cup elimination round match between the Pay Excellence Hawke's Bay senior men's team v Wairarapa at QE II Park Oval, in Masterton, this weekend:
Hawke's Bay: James de Terte (c), Luke Wright, Harshil Pandya (all Taradale), Bronson Meehan, Morten Freer, Stevie Smidt, Liam Raukuwai (all Complete Flooring Napier Tech), Michael Taiaroa, Seb Langridge (wicketkeeper) Jacob Smith (all Heretaunga Building Society Cornwall), Kurt Richards (Craft and Hern Sports Havelock North), Stephen Pimm (Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay).
Coach/selector: Lincoln Doull.
Wairarapa: Peter Borren (c), Tim Lucas, Jaime Holmes, Henry Cameron, Mark Childs (wicketkeeper), Dean van Deventer, Matthew Stringfellow, David Ingham, Josh Mann, Ben Foster, Seth Rance and Paul Lyttle.
Coach/selector: Mark Brown.