THE MENTALITY of she'll be all right because Kruger van Wyk will stop the rot will have to end pretty smartly for the Central Districts Stags.
"We need to spend more time, especially the top order, be more patient but also showing good intent," the Devon Hotel-sponsored CD coach Heinrich Malan said after the Stags were skittled for 161 in 63.2 overs in their first innings yesterday.
No3 Carl Cachopa top-scored with 53 runs from 143 balls after opener Jamie How contributed 32 from 51 balls before No7 Van Wyk again provided a rearguard with 18 from 60 balls in the second day of the four-day Plunket Shield match at McLean Park, Napier.
Every other batsman provided single digits to make up cellphone numbers.
"It's a cut-throat business, you know, sports, It's about winning and losing and stats and performances, so not too many of our top-order batsmen are on the right side of the 30s, as we stand."
Malan said the training culture and attitude was spot on but CD needed a little bit of luck.
Instead of putting themselves under scoreboard pressure, the Central Districts batsmen needed to occupy the crease "to scrap for each ball", he said.
"At the end of the day we wanted to score a couple more runs to try to get a lead," Malan said, after his top-order struggled all summer, including the HRV Cup Twenty20 campaign where CD finished last two seasons in a row.
"People have got specific roles in a cricket side to make the 11 so the batsmen are there to score runs and the bowlers to take wickets.
"Hopefully, come tomorrow afternoon, when we strap on our pads we'll take the game nice and deep."
Ex-Black Caps seamer Mark Gillespie was their nemesis yesterday, ripping through the top order and mopping up the tail with his career-best figures of 6-38, eclipsing his previous 6-41.
It was the seamer's 19th first-class five-wicket bag.
However, with rain changing the complexion of the wicket a little and a new ball not too far away when play resumes this morning, weather permitting, the hosts were hoping to knock over the visitors, who were 143-3 at stumps, leaving them with a lead of 154 at the halfway mark.
"There's plenty to play for - two days - so a lot of things can happen and lead to another exciting finish," he said after CD beat Northern Districts Knights in the last round at the same venue for their maiden victory of the summer in two formats.
"It's not the best day at the office but that's how cricket often goes."
The Stags are down a seamer after Ben Wheeler pulled up with a side strain.
"He'll probably be out for six to eight weeks so some of the other guys will have to put their hand up tomorrow because it'll be a toil with one fewer man but that's the nature of the beast."
Comeback kid Bevan Small is relishing the new-ball role in Wheeler's absence and is an ideal position to push for opening seamer with the scalps of opening batsmen Josh Brodie (49 runs) and first-class leading run scorer Michael Papps ( 12) in the second dig.
It came hot on the heels of his first-change effort when he took 3-23 as the most economical bowler in the first innings.
"Bev is an awesome cricketer and a man for getting into the trenches so I wouldn't put it past him to put another big performance tomorrow."
Malan said it was an opportunity for him to cement the opening seamer's position but emphasised some days it could be a player's day and other days they could be toilers while someone else nailed the scalps.
Captain Kieran Nomea-Barnett, who trapped No3 Stephen Murdoch for 13 runs, had claimed his 50th first-class wicket but had "underbowled" himself at 1-21 in 11 frugal overs, including three maidens.
"It's something we've spoken about whole season and since Shags [English import Peter Trego] has left, he's becoming that fourth seamer and that's fantastic," Malan said.
With the wicket slowing down a little yesterday, batsmen didn't find it a stroll to score runs but also it wasn't easy to go out on.
No4 and ex-Black Cap Grant Elliott is unbeaten on 50 and looks settled for the long haul, although 23 wickets have tumbled on the Phil Stoyanoff strip.
Captain James Franklin is on 5 not out at the other end.
CD legspinner Tarun Nethula was finding some purchase in just day two, something that even Franklin had predicted would happen on days three and four for his spinners, Jeetan Patel and Luke Woodcock.
"All in all it was huge effort after we batted terribly yesterday [Thursday] in the second session," Franklin said,
He lauded Elliott and Brodie for laying the platform for a big score.
"We're 150-odd in front but we have a lot of work left to do even though we're in a reasonable position."
Asked if a sporting or educated declaration was in the pipeline, Franklin said it was hard to know.
"Rain is still around so I have to be constantly talking to the head groundsman, Phil," he said, mindful rain coming in from the sea had a habit of hanging around for a while.
"There might come a point tomorrow when we have enough runs on the board so we might declare but there's a lot of play left before we come to that."
Franklin is in the IPL wishlist, with CD's Doug Bracewell and injured speed merchant Adam Milne the only Stags, before the auction in April.
There were no distractions but it was comforting to know he could still make contribution at a professional level, Franklin said.
In other matches, Otago clawed their way back against Auckland at the Eden Park outer oval yesterday while Northern Districts were in control against leaders Canterbury.