Cricket: Format switch lets squad move on

By Anendra Singh

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Jaime How (right) says the switch to first-class matches is a timely distraction. Photo/File.
Jaime How (right) says the switch to first-class matches is a timely distraction. Photo/File.

Jamie How will be the first to admit it takes some getting used to in to-ing and fro-ing between Twenty20 and Plunket Shield in domestic men's cricket.

"The format this summer seems to be as challenging as ever," says the stand-in Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags captain. He leads his team out on to Seddon Park, Hamilton, from today for the second round of the four-day, first-class match against the Northern Districts Knights.

However, How is quick to attest to how the switch from the shorter format to the longer one is the panacea to carrying excess mental baggage after an agonising last-ball defeat to the Wellington Firebirds last Friday in the capital city.

"I guess, in some small way, it's tight after the heart-breaking loss the other night but it's nice to put on the white pads to start looking for the red ball," says the former New Zealand international batsman.

Although it's early days, the Heinrich Malan-coached Stags have yet to win a game in either format after losing two T20s and a shield match with the opening round T20 washed out without a ball in Christchurch.

The defending shield champions also lost their skipper, Kieran Noema-Barnett, who was rushed to hospital during the televised T20 match at WestpacTrust Stadium to have six stitches for a torn webbing between the thumb and forefinger. It has put him out for almost three weeks.

How laughs when asked how the veteran finds himself saddled with assuming the mantle of captaincy at a time of his career when he's satisfied with focusing on his batting as the CD coaching stable attempt to blood potential leaders.

"Yes, I've Barney [Noema-Barnett] to blame for that," he says in a jocular vein before adding, "I'm quite happy to fill in when required and, hopefully, ... Barney's hand will heal quickly."

Despite the first-round, shield-match loss to the Firebirds at the Basin Reserve, the Stags are not reaching for the panic button just yet.

"We're keen to repeat last summer's success but we're not changing anything or concerned about how the opposition are going to approach us."

Black Cap Ross Taylor is in today's line-up although inclement weather will have the last say in the next four days.

Unarguably the only batsman oozing international class, Taylor is returning from a knee injury before the West Indies begin their test campaign from December 3 in Dunedin.

The James Pamment-coached Knights have a shadow Black Caps look about them with nine internationals in the starting 12 and, mercifully, with the adroit Kane Williamson, the logical successor to Taylor, still injured.

CD leg-spinner Tarun Nethula is out with an ankle injury.

ND and CD sit in fifth and sixth place on the shield ladder, respectively, having played one fewer game than the other four major association sides.

How says Taylor will lift the young Stags' spirits immensely, as Jacob Oram did in the T20.

ND KNIGHTS: Daniel Flynn (c), Brad Wilson, Anton Devcich, Daryl Mitchell, BJ Watling, Corey Anderson, Daniel Vettori, Scott Kuggeleijn, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Graeme Aldridge, Trent Boult.

12th man: Named today.

CD STAGS: Jamie How (c), Peter Trego, Carl Cachopa, William Young, Ross Taylor, Kruger van Wyk, Ben Smith, Doug Bracewell, Ajaz Patel, Adam Milne, Ben Wheeler.

12th man: Greg Hay.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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