After the announcement of the first Firebirds’ contracts for the coming season, a number of Firebirds and Cricket Wellington age-group players are about to embark on a journey for their first taste of pre-season cricket. Playing under the banner of the Hutt Hawks, the side leave today for India where they have a packed schedule of white-ball cricket ahead of them.
The Hutt Hawks have been providing development opportunities for cricketers for almost a decade and they have organised several tours to India. Ahead of the senior side’s tour they have had an Under 17 team taking part in matches at the RDT (Regional Development Trust) in Anantapur. With the tour including visits to hospitals, orphanages, and initiatives that help the poor in the region, this is much more than simply a cricket tour.
For the senior side, which features a number of Firebirds and players with domestic experience, the tour offers an opportunity to get some pre-season game time. As can be the case with tours to India, the schedule is open to change, but the majority of cricket will be white ball with a series of T20s to begin.
Among those travelling to India is Firebirds’ veteran, Luke Woodcock. Having visited India for the 2011 World Cup with the BLACKCAPS, Luke’s experience in the sub-continent, and his status as Wellington’s most-capped First-Class cricketer, means he has something of a mentoring role on the tour.
India is always a bit of an unknown but it’s definitely an exciting opportunity for these guys, Woodcock explains. You hear a lot about the experience of playing cricket over there but not too many get to experience that first hand.
Most of the players have had several months away from the game, although the team have been regularly getting together to train. With a schedule that sees only three or four rest days across a two-week tour, it will be an intensive return to the playing field. Woodcock sees it as a good chance to break some of the monotony of winter training in New Zealand.
Winter for most cricketers tends to mean training, stuck indoors, which can be a bit hard. The Firebirds don’t really come together as a unit until September so this is a chance for the guys to put things we’ve been working on to the test in a game environment.
To see what the U17 side have been up to and follow the progress of both sides, check out the Hutt Hawks’ Facebook page.
Hutt Hawks’ squad to India:
Image: Action from the Hutt Hawks’ U17 side in India, photo via Hutt Hawks’ Facebook page.