Some quality Stags culled

By ANENDRA SINGH sports editor

WITH 14 contracted players, excluding three available Black Caps, someone was always going to be disenchanted when coach Alan Hunt read the names out for the first game.

"It's competition. We always knew and the players knew that there are 19 professional cricketers and, with some other guys competing for places, there's only room for 12," Hunt says in revealing the Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags cull soon after the Chapple Cup final at Nelson Park, Napier, on Monday.

The 13 players are in the equation to play the Wellington Firebirds in the opening four-day Plunket Shield match on Sunday to begin the 2012-13 domestic campaign this summer.

"In this case 13 but normally there's 12 so there was always going to be some disappointed players," he says of CD who will have rookie captain Kieran Noema-Barnett leading last season's Ford Trophy one-day champions.

Black Caps skipper Ross Taylor, veteran Jacob Oram and fellow Manawatu representative Adam Milne are off to Sri Lanka today on international duties.

The notable omissions from last summer are retired seamer Michael Mason and Taranaki batsman Peter Ingram.

Wairarapa allrounder Greg Todd, not on a contract, is in Melbourne while fellow allrounder Seth Rance, who didn't play last summer, is playing in Wellington.

"Seth, who had shoulder and ankle injuries last summer, has chosen to play for Wellington.

"He believes he has more opportunities with Wellington," Hunt says, believing Rance's chances of making any team are slim considering his injuries and lay-off.

So who are the unlucky ones this summer?

Taranaki opening batsman Dean Robinson scored a century on Monday in the final round of matches during the Chapple Cup tournament at Nelson Park, Napier, but was surplus to requirements.

"He got a hundred today but missed out earlier in the week.

"Dean's disappointed but that's reality because we can't fit them all in."

With two games for CD before Doug Bracewell and wicketkeeper/batsman Kruger van Wyk head off to test duties with the Black Caps in the tour of Sri Lanka, Hunt say opportunities will potentially open up for Robinson.

"Ben Smith had also got couple of good scores on the last two days [of the Chapple Cup] but was also unlucky."

Hunt will decide on the batting/bowling split from the 13 players who have made the cut closer to Sunday.

"It looks a little green at the moment and that'll depend on the weather in the week. We have all things covered. It would be unlikely, I think, that we'll go with four front-line seamers plus the two allrounders but we'll know more nearer the time."

That talking point during the long weekend was unwanted Black Caps bowler Tarun Nethula, who came across more as a front-arm medium-pacer rather than the classic behind-the-head action indicative of leg spinners.

"His action has changed and he sees that as a positive thing. He's probably got his arms higher than what he had historically but he's happy with the way it's coming out.

"I think it's something he's got to persevere with and he's happy with that. He landed it pretty well while we were training today [Monday] at lunch time," Hunt says.

Pay Excellence Hawke's Bay senior men's coach Lincoln Doull dropped Nethula from his line-up for the Chapple Cup-winning final on Monday, opting instead for Taradale left-arm offspinner Ajaz Patel, although Patel was not required after the seamers skittled Manawatu for 90 to become one-day inter-district champions.

Patel, who has arrived here from Auckland, and left-armer Marty Kain, of Nelson, are the back-up spinners in the CD squad.

"Ajaz has done everything right since he's decided to come down to the Bay and have a shot.

"We're very pleased with him and, equally, Marty Kain's done well when we were down in Lincoln [Christchurch] recently," Hunt says, adding they are different type of bowlers but will probably play some part in the CD campaign this summer.

Former Northern Districts seamer Andrew Mathieson is the other new face in the equation.

"He's under contract so we brought him here to bowl fast.

"He's showing us a lot of good things so we've named 13, with an extra bowler, so he fits into that squad well."

Mathieson's a bit different to the others because, like Roald Badenhorst, he's a right-arm swing bowler who will be juggled with left-arm swing bowler Ben Wheeler.

"Andrew brings a different type of pace as an into-the-wicket bowler."

Former Wellington Firebird Andrew Lamb, who plays in the Horowhenua-Kapiti region, brings "a bit more experience" with his right-arm pace deliveries.

"He brings a different dimension and is very much a third seamer but bowls in the right areas and has done very well since he's been with us."

Former Auckland Aces opening left-arm batsman Jeet Raval will also be the new kid on the block this summer for the Stags.

"Jeet's got a very good record. He averages 37 in first-class cricket and has four hundreds," he says of Raval, who in 2008-09 season scored 256 runs against CD during a shield match in Auckland.

"He gets to start on the back of that record and will open batting with Jamie How.

"We're expecting big things from Jeet. He's working very, very well and he's a quality player. I think he's going to have a very big season."

With former Black Cap Ingram retiring as an opener after myriad partnership records with CD, Robinson and Smith have been in the mix but Raval effectively eclipses the pair.

"You could say he's replaced Peter Ingram but Jeet's coming of his own volition and he wanted to come and have a crack here.

"He's enjoying it and he's playing well and I think he'll go pretty well," Hunt says.

To add to the presence of Black Caps wicketkeeper/batsman Kruger van Wyk, the joker in the Firebirds' pack will be the rebirth of former Bay and CD representative Jesse Ryder.

The former Napier Boys' High School pupil is on a regimented campaign to shed kilos and embrace discipline to earn back his berth in the New Zealand team.

"With Dougie [Bracewell] as the bowler of the year and if Jesse's on show and Kruger's there, then you have a lot of reasons to come watch cricket and Jesse's certainly part of that," Hunt says of the former Complete Flooring Napier Technical Old Boys cricketer who lost his contract with New Zealand Cricket following disciplinary issues.

Firebirds coach Jamie Siddons has talked up Ryder's chances of a New Zealand recall.

The Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags team to play the Wellington Firebirds in the opening match of the

2012-13 four-day Plunket Shield competition at Nelson Park, Napier, from this Sunday (from): Kieran Noema-Barnett (captain), 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.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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