Cricket: Story cooking under rain covers

By Anendra Singh

What was there to talk about? It was a pertinent question from coach Alan Hunt as he and assistant Lance Hamilton tried to make their way home in their cars late in the afternoon after day one of the four-day Plunket Shield cricket match in Napier.

The rain was persisting at Nelson Park. The covers were on. Black Cap Kruger van Wyk was waiting for his wife, Zenandi, to pick him up and Scott Briasco was left picking up the discarded gear although he did occasionally stop to admire the vibrant colours of the Hawke's Bay Today promotional caravan but just don't ask the newly appointed CD manager of amateur cricket what his thoughts were, either.

The Devon Hotel Central Districts were 130-3 when rain halted play at the first drinks break after lunch - open and shut case, really, at least for the day until No 3 batsman Carl Cachopa (38 not out) rookie captain Kieran Noema-Barnett (4 not out) resume today, weather permitting.

"We got put in to bat after losing the toss but we thought the conditions were going to be quite good for batting and they turned out to be that," Hunt said not long after making his way back to the pavilion from his car to share his thoughts.

It pleased Hunt that openers Jamie How and Jeet Raval established a 50-run partnership, prematurely suggesting they were bedding in for the long haul.

"Unfortunately probably three of the guys got starts but then got out. In many respects their shots were a little bit loose," Hunt said after How departed for 33 runs and Raval for 30, falling to Colin Munro and former CD Stag left-arm seamer Mitchell McClenaghan, respectively.

No 4 Mathew Sinclair heard the death rattle from Black Caps opening bowler Chris Martin for 22 runs.

"We all agreed we probably gave away our wickets rather than we got bowled out by the opposition," Hunt said, adding two wickets resulted from batsmen chopping the ball on to their stumps.

"All in all Carl kicking on to 38 not out shows his rich vein of form is continuing so, hopefully, he'll kick on in the morning with Kieran," he said of the Heretaunga Building Society allrounder who brought up his fourth career century last week in the five-wicket defeat to the Wellington Firebirds here in a game the Stags should have won had they contained batsman Jesse Ryder. Needless to say, Hunt felt there was still a lot of work to do in the next three days against the Aces, with a fine day predicted today but some threat of rain later, in almost the same pattern as yesterday's weather.

"All we can do is play what's in front of us so the batsmen will have to start all again and, having said that, so will the bowlers," he said, taking an optimistic outlook on playing 110 overs with the sun pushing its way through.

With the Paul Strang-coached Aces returning from a diet of Twenty/20 cricket during the Champions League in South Africa last month, Hunt felt they would take a little bit of time to settle to find their rhythm.

"Chris Martin's played a little bit of test cricket lately so he bowls well and in good areas and was challenging.

"Mitchell was enthusiastic and ran in hard all day and was certainly good for that wicket."

He said while they were playing shield cricket, the Stags' first HRV Cup Twenty/20 match was only three weeks away so that was on the back of their minds, too.

It's paramount the Stags should start preparing to heave-ho and giggle with two games before Christmas, on November 23 and another on December 7.

"It's hard to go play one-offs and then take a break and then play another one-off but that's the way it is and we'll just have to do that."

He said defending shield champions Northern Districts Knights played a winning T20 on Friday before Otago skittled them for 200-odd yesterday on the first day of their shield match, suggesting it wasn't that easy to adapt.

It is Auckland's first shield match since returning home from South Africa as the most successful New Zealand club after falling just shy of making the play-offs.

Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay batsman Ben Smith, of Wanganui, was named 12th man for CD yesterday after allrounder Ben Wheeler was injured.

"Ben's got a hamstring strain so he wasn't considered for the game today. I made that decision at training this morning so he wasn't fit enough to play."

The Gareth Hopkin-captained Aucklanders had spinner Bhupinder Singh carrying the drinks.

Strang said it was a "very steady day" and he was loathe to read too much into it.

"The day was the winner, really," the former Zimbabwe international said, lauding the Stags batsman for applying themselves and sticking to the task on an even day.

"There was probably just enough in the wicket to keep the bowlers interested," he said, emphasising if his bowlers could make inroads in the first hour or two this morning CD could be looking at a total of around 180.

Strang hastened to add Cachopa could dig his heels in with Noema-Barnett while test wicketkeeper Van Wyk itching to get on.

"We have to be very respectful because we must not forget Dougie Bracewell was in there for a long time against Wellington," he said of the Black Caps allrounder at No 9, unwanted for the Mike Hesson-coached New Zealand team playing the shorter format on tour against Sri Lanka.

"We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves."

Strang saw advantages and disadvantages in coming into the shield campaign a round later.

In terms of preparation, they haven't played any three-day matches they traditionally have in past summers.

Conversely they have played solid cricket, albeit an abbreviated version, for almost two months.

"I suppose what we lose on the straight we gain at the roundabout, whereas CD have had it the other way."

Strang lamented the loss of time yesterday and echoed Hunt's sentiments they would make up about 20 to 30 overs today.

"Especially if both teams can bat for a lead so we'll want to force a result."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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