Central Districts have no reason to hit the panic button even though their standing on the Twenty20 table looks grim, according to Stags seamer Blair Tickner.
"We've played one fewer game than all the other teams while the [Northern Districts] Knights and [Wellington] Firebirds have actually played two more than the Stags. So while we're fifth on the ladder at the moment, we've got games in hand and we know it looks worse on the table than it is," says Tickner before CD host the Auckland Aces in the Burger King Super Smash T20 campaign at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, from 4.10pm today.
"It's still a bit annoying because we'd been putting together complete team performances in both The Ford Trophy (one-day) and Plunket Shield (first-class cricket) heading into this format," says the 24-year-old Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay premier men's club team.
"What's been happening in our Burger King Super Smash games is that we've put in either a very good batting performance or a very good performance in the field. We just need the two to go hand in hand in this format."
It has been a yo-yo T20 season for the Henrich Malan-coached Stags although they have had promising starts in the four-day Plunket Shield and one-day Ford Trophy formats.
Last year's finalists also face the imminent threat of rain robbing them of a result today in round six at a picturesque but compact park where they have yet to post a win this summer.
Napier-born Tickner has made a meteoric rise from premier club level to domestic cricket since returning home from Australia three years ago.
He is adept at keeping batsmen on a leash in both red and white-ball formats. His versatility also stands out in the absence of new-ball merchants Seth Rance and Doug Bracewell on Black Caps duties.
Opening bowler or at first change, Tickner has delivered.
"There's no reason we can't be there come finals time. We're a good enough team to do it. We showed at the Mount that we can match it with the front-running teams in the comp this year and beat them, and we're refreshed and ready to start again after New Year," he says.