Anendra Singh: Kieran picks up the CD reins

By Anendra Singh


You somehow get the impression dynamic allrounder Kieran Noema-Barnett is too schooled in his cricketing ways to be cool.

Okay, so he doesn't come across as hip or lip-savvy as Mathew Sinclair. Neither does he exhibit a clarity of conviction and courage that Kruger van Wyk exudes when you stick a microphone under the Black Cap's nose - not just yet, anyway.

But it would be a grave mistake to perceive those face values for someone who doesn't have the prerequisites to get the job done as the Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags' rookie captain for the 2012-13 summer campaign, which begins on Sunday at Nelson Park, Napier.

Underlying that youthful exuberance is Noema-Barnett's no-frills approach to assuming the mantle of leadership steeped in a culture of a symbiotic relationship that champions investments from all parties.

"I don't bring much experience in terms of leading a first-class team but I've captained at club level and, I suppose, I've played enough to understand what the role entails," says the 25-year-old Taradale Cricket Club player before he leads the Stags out against the Wellington Firebirds in the opening four-day Plunket Shield match.

For someone who was typecast under the Dermot Reeve dynasty as admittedly a natural for the abbreviated version of the game rather than donning whites, Noema-Barnett showed a flip side when he dug his heels in last summer to eke out his maiden century for CD in an away four-day shield match against the Auckland Aces.

"I've my own ideas and my own approaches and that's what I want to bring into the Stags," says the former New Zealand Hong Kong Sixes representative who holds the domestic record for the fastest half ton in New Zealand cricket.

"Someone who leads from the front but also makes sure the team environment, first and foremost, is the most important.

"You've got to have that team-first attitude, especially in cricket. That's one of the things I'll be really big on pushing - making sure guys are contributing but in a team-first manner."

Like any successful captain he will have to mingle with his troops but possess the knack of keeping a healthy distance to ensure friendships don't cloud his judgment on the field.

"I'm definitely bold enough to make those transitions," he says. "There's going to be times when a guy will need an arm around the shoulders and a little bit of encouragement to keep going.

"If someone is mucking around and not doing his work then they'll need a little bit of a burst. I can't see it as being a problem, to be honest."

Noema-Barnett counts his blessings that blokes such as ex-internationals/CD skippers Sinclair and Jamie How and Van Wyk, albeit briefly, will be within arm's length or two along the slip cordon if he needs to tap into their thought processes.

"They'll always be there and always support me so I'll use their help but there'll be times when I'll just have to be bold and stand up for the way I feel it should be going.

"There are a few minor things that'll need adjusting so I'll have to divvy up my time a little better but I can't see it affecting my game in a negative way."

Needless to say, filling the CD trophy cabinet is the primary goal for Noema-Barnett and the Stags who are the defending Ford Trophy one-day champions.

"I have a lot of belief in the team and the squad. We definitely have the calibre of players to do really well.

"While that's an outcome-based goal I think it's definitely achievable but, obviously, every time we'll play we're going to play to win so that's the most important thing."

He rates the Wellington Firebirds "a very good team" and a tough assignment first up. Former Central Districts and Bay representative Jesse Ryder will play on Sunday.

"He'll definitely be tough because he's an outstanding player but they have a lot of outstanding players.

"For Jesse to be coming back to the Bay, I'm sure he'll be pretty excited by it and it'll be good for him but it'll be a good time for us to check ourselves against some of the best players around."

The former Napier Boys' High School pupil has taken a self-imposed break from the international game since February but Wellington have contracted him amid New Zealand coach Mike Hesson's enquiries about his progress.

In recent times it has been very good.

Former Complete Flooring Napier Technical Old Boys' Ryder carved up two centuries in four days for Wellington in warm-up matches recently and is also back bowling medium pacers.

Former Black Cap paceman Mark Gillespie, who took the domestic scene by storm last summer, is also in the mix after a niggling ankle injury.

Noema-Barnett says it's pivotal CD are focusing on developing players within its sprawling and fragmented catchment area.

"You start looking at people like How and Sinclair in there who have been up there so there's a lot of things to be excited about with the Stags."

While it's hard to predict if the blend of youth and experience is right, he feels the onus is on the players to work towards achieving that sense of equilibrium.

"The experienced guys are helping out the younger guys when needed and vice-versa ... so if we can get that sort of culture going where we're openly talking about our game and looking for ways to get better and always improving then there's no reason why we can't do what we want to."

Coach Alan Hunt and assistant Lance Hamilton have been putting the squad members through the spin-dry cycle for at least six weeks.

"The preparation can't be faulted and the association has to be thanked for getting the guys prepared as well as they can be."

Last weekend's Chapple Cup tournament at Nelson Park was an ideal platform before starting the first-class campaign.

"To go back to represent the minor associations is the sort of thing you should be doing and that's the same with club cricket because that's where we started and learned the game so it's good to give back something."

The influx of new players such as Andrew Lamb, Andrew Mathieson, Jeet Raval and Ajaz Patel is crucial to taking stock at the end of the season.

"They are good players in their own right and will definitely add a lot to our side. They are good pick-ups for us and their effort and attitude pre-season were fantastic so they should do pretty well in the season."

Noema-Barnett has no qualms about starting the summer with four-day matches.

"It gets you right on to the park and into it with some pretty tough games so I think it's a good way to start the summer."

His family from Palmerston North were here last weekend to back him and younger brother Arana Noema-Barnett (Manawatu rep) whose wicket the senior brother got in the one-day final as the Pay Excellence Hawke's Bay senior men's team comfortably lifted the Chapple Cup.

"My family's one of the main reasons why I play cricket properly so they'll be really proud of me. They have been really encouraging so no matter if I was captain or not they've always supported me so it's fantastic to have them around."

CD STAGS (from): Kieran Noema-Barnett (c), Roald Badenhorst, Doug Bracewell, Carl Cachopa, Jamie How, Andrew Lamb, Andrew Mathieson, Tarun Nethula, Jeet Raval, Mathew Sinclair, Kruger van Wyk, Ben Wheeler, William Young.

FIREBIRDS (from): Stephen Murdoch (c), Michael Papps, Mike Pollard, Jesse Ryder, Grant Elliott, Luke Woodcock, Luke Ronchi, Jeetan Patel, Andy McKay, Mark Gillespie, Scott Kuggeleign, Dane Hutchinson.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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