ANY OTHER day, mention 2-20 at a sedate five runs an over and most Twenty20 bowlers' faces would light up in a game that is partial towards batsmen.
Last night Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags bowler Marty Kain's hollow laugh needed no interpretation.
"Mate, it's pretty frustrating," the 25-year-old left-arm spinner said from Saxton Oval, Nelson, after the Northern Districts Knights beat the Stags by 25 runs in their HRV Cup match.
"We just can't seem to bloody put it together," Kain lamented after the Heinrich Malan-coached CD team failed to hatch a win-less streak in domestic cricket in both the T20 campaign as well as the four-day Plunket Shield one this summer.
Returning from the Black Caps duties to play in his first T20 cup match this summer, ND opening batsman Anton Devcich ran amok with his blazing bat, racking up a quick-fire unbeaten 43 runs in just four overs with captain Daniel Flynn.
"Anton got off to a flying start and then batted sensibly after that," Kain said as Devcich finished with 90 not out from 68 balls, including 10 boundaries and a six to carry his bat through the abbreviated innings.
English import opening bowler Peter Trego and back-from-surgery, medium-fast merchant Bevan Small, at first-change, took a spanking to finish with economy rates of 12.25 and 13.33, respectively.
Veteran former Black Caps allrounder Jacob Oram kept things respectable at one end but it was Kain and legspinner Tarun Nethula who combined amiably to stem the haemorraghing of runs.
A wicket-less Nethula went for 6.5 runs an over while Oram claimed two scalps to finish with an economy of 7.25.
CD skipper Kieran Noema-Barnett went for seven an over from his only over after Small was excused in three overs.
"We were happy to chase 175 to win after the start they got," Kain said after the hosts won the toss to have ND padding up for 174-4 in their allotted 20 overs.
Enigmatically CD's latest recruit, allrounder Joshua Cobb, wasn't employed as a right-arm offspin option.
"I'm not too sure what's happening with Cobby because I haven't seen him bowl yet," he said of the Leicestershire county cricketer who arrived from England a fortnight ago to boost CD stocks in their fast-fading T20 campaign.
"He could have been an option because our spin and slow bowling pulled it back a little," he said, adding he had only seen Cobb batting in the nets.
The top-of-the-table Knights didn't give CD much leg room in their run chase, as the Stags wheels came off at 149-7 in 20 overs with Oram (13 not out) and Small (1 not out) stranded at the crease.
All the talk was about young fast bowler Chris Tremain making his debut for ND and the Australian import didn't disappoint with 2-21 from four overs as the pick of ND bowlers at first change with an economy rate of 5.25.
Graeme Aldridge claimed 2-26 but fellow opening seamer Devcich eclipsed his economy rate with a wicket-less 6.67 an over to easily win the man-of-the-match honours.
CD top-order batsmen had starts into double figures but it was left to No 6 Kruger van Wyk and No 7 William Young to shoulder the innings with 42 runs and 29 runs, respectively, albeit it too late to claim an emphatic victory.
"We have to go back to the drawing board to try to win a game to get some momentum," Kain said, adding the Stags were having a spoul-searching team talk this morning before heading off to Pukekura Park, New Plymouth.
"We have four on the trot at New Plymouth where it's been a fortress for us so hopefully that's where we'll change things around."
Kain felt the Saxton Oval wicket was a good one, around the par 180 mark.
"They did get very close to it and it was a decent-sized boundary where you could make twos.
"He said the batsmen didn't know much about Sydney Thunder prospect Tremain who was an unknown quantity.
A delighted ND coach James Pamment said the Knights had secured the services of Tremain in the last minute when test bowler Trent Boult pulled up with a thigh strain.
"We were still negotiating with Sydney Thunder when you phoned me [on Tuesday]. He had gone to Dubbo, where he's from, and we got him about midnight," said Pamment, attributing their success in recruiting Australian imports to ND CEO Peter Roach, an Australian who has connections with the Australian association.
"He knows the guys there and their skill sets so it's great to have Chris out here to bolster our bowling stocks," said the Knights' English coach, adding Tremain had already shown his Thunder selectors and coaching staff what he was capable of doing.
He lauded Devcich for his batting prowess, believing it would be hard for any other Knight to be claim the match-winning honours.
"Anton loves to play the white-ball twenty20 and one-dayers."
Pamment felt the Saxton Oval was a par 160 one and they were over the moon to have got to 174.
CD's run chase, he said, would have only been successful if his bowlers had had a shocker or a Stags batsman would have come up with something extra special.
"Jamie [How] and Trego got to a good start but with Trego swinging like a rusty gate we knew we were going to get a chance to get him out."
According to an NZ Cricket report, Trego had just carved off Aldridge for a huge six on to the roof of the pavilion commentary box but Trego was caught on the third man boundary going for a big shot.
The loss of five wickets in six overs before the midway mark put too much pressure on the remaining order, wicketkeeper Van Wyk, who was run out, and Oram left needing a steep 30 runs off the final over.
CD bowler Ben Wheeler was 12th man while Anuragh Verma was ND's drinks carrier.
The visitors lead the HRV Cup table with 16 points but the Otago Volts are nipping at their heels though after an eight-wicket victory over the Auckland Aces, while the Canterbury Wizards and Wellington Firebirds match was abandoned without a ball bowled.
However, Pamment said the Knights were not too concerned about where they were on the table until they finish the 10th round of the competition that offers the winners a trip to the lucrative world club championship overseas late next year.
The Aces limped to 119-9 in their 20 overs, Otago captain Derek de Boorder's decision to insert the visitors on a seemingly friendly wicket.
Black Cap test opener Hamish Rutherford and Neil Broom raced to 23 off the opening three overs, setting their side up to cruise home by eight wickets.
Broom was caught behind off former teammate James Fuller for 51 but Rutherford missed out on a matching half century when he was run out with just a handful of runs required on 49.Eventually though the Volts dominance was rewarded when they surpassed the required total after 15.4 overs.