Cricket: Knights look to bounce back

The Northern Knights' assured form in the first few rounds of the Ford Trophy has evaporated after losing their last two games in the 50-over competition.

On Sunday, at Mount Maunganui's Bay Oval, they were put to the sword by Black Caps opener Rob Nicol, who smashed 171 including 10 sixes, in Canterbury Wizards' total of 362/6.

In reply the Knights were well short, finishing on 254 all out with 10 overs still to bowl.

That follows on from the disastrous bowling performance against the Central Stags in Hamilton, when Jamie How scored 222 in the Stags' imposing total of 417/6.

The upshot of the consecutive losses is the points cushion the Knights had at the top of the table after three rounds has gone and they are now in third place on 13 points, behind the Canterbury Wizards (15) and the Auckland Aces (16).

Today, from 11am at Bay Oval, they take on the Otago Volts who are in form after they won their first game of the competition on the weekend against the Central Stags.

The Vaults chased down 283 to win comfortably and they are a dangerous side with international experience in Nathan McCullum, Neil Broom and Ian Butler.

Knights coach Grant Bradburn says he and his team had an honest appraisal of their recent poor bowling form and he expects to see a major improvement against the Volts.

"We have had two poor performances with the ball," he said. "We acknowledge that as a team and have spoken about that together in a debrief about not only Sunday's performance but Hamilton as well against the Stags.

"It was not up to our high expectations and we have spoken about the plans we want to execute and have made some subtle changes to that because clearly at the moment they are not working that well.

"We need to be ruthless and personally accountable around making sure that we execute our rolls.

"From an overall perspective we are doing a lot of things really well but we have identified a few areas of our performance we know we can improve on.

The Vaults are capable of beating any team if their key players all fire together and Bradburn is well aware of the threat they pose.

"There are no easy games in this competition and we know they have some game-breakers in their side too so we will prepare specifically for what the Volts will bring."

The Knights will field the same side that lost to the Wizards, meaning no room for any of the in-form Bay of Plenty players, particularly pace bowlers Tony Goodin and Brett Hampton.

Northern Knights

Alan Devcich, Daniel Flynn, Daryl Mitchell, Jono Hickey, Brad Wilson, Tamati Clarke, Chris Fletcher, Jono Boult, Graeme Aldridge, Anurag Verma, Brent Arnel

- Bay of Plenty Times

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