Before the game had started, assistant coach Lance Hamilton had made it painfully obvious the selectors were having a torrid time in making the cull for the Plunket Shield game in Gisborne.
But in listing the team for the Alan Hunt-coached Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags, Hamilton had also made it abundantly clear all the players were capable of batting regardless of whether they were openers or No 11.
There were, arguably, no rabbits among the Kieran Noema-Barnett-captained CD outfit in the four-day shield match against the Northern Districts Knights in Gisborne.
When the dust settled at stumps last night at the Harry Barker Reserve, CD opener Jeet Raval had laid the foundation with a patient 73 runs from 127 balls while occupying the crease for 193 minutes.
When play resumes today CD wicketkeeper Ben Smith and No 11 Adam Milne will resume after putting on an unbeaten stand of 55 for the final wicket as the Stags closed the day on 341-9 in reply to the Knights' first-innings total of 183.
"It's a slow wicket and it's holding on," Raval said last night after ND spinner Ish Sodhi claimed his scalp.
The 24-year-old former Auckland Aces left-hander didn't hesitate to apportion the kudos to a collective effort.
A cursory glance at the scoreboard does reflect that.
Noema-Barnett at No 5 scored 44, No 6 William Young made 36 and No 7 Tarun Nethula contributed 39 runs in an innings when big names such as Carl Cachopa, Mathew Sinclair and Jamie How failed to find much traction.
Black Caps Twenty/20 and ODI quick bowler Milne's unbeaten 38 was his highest score in his short first-class career and he is a handy player to have so low down the order considering he bats as high as No 4 for his club side in Palmerston North.
Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay wicketkeeper Smith finished day two at the Harry Barker Reserve with 64 next to his name - his fifth half century in nine first-class appearances - and the pair will look to add more runs to their lead early on day three tomorrow. (sun)
While nobody managed to go on to three figures it all added up to a decent total and CD closed day two with a 158-run lead and will back their chances to score an outright win during the next two days.
In the bowling department, seamer James Baker picked up 4-59 from 29 overs, while leg-spinner Sodhi took 2-84 and Graeme Aldridge returned 2-64 from 22 overs.
Smith and Milne's partnership was a record for the 10th wicket for CD against ND, while Baker's figures were his best in first-class cricket.
"Milney chipped us in and took what was a 100-run lead to 150 so that was awesome, too," he said, adding the lower-order batsmen all made cameo contributions to give them a head start.
Raval said it was a great bowling effort on Saturday when Heretaunga Building Society Cornwall allrounder Cachopa took 3-15 from nine overs, including four maidens.
Milne took 2-41 from 17.3 overs, including two maidens, while Ben Wheeler had 2-48 and Nethula 2-26 after Noema-Barnett won the toss and shone the ball.
Wicketkeeper Smith took five catches in his first outing at domestic level this summer.
"He also 64 not out with the bat so that's really a great start for Ben."
Raval said the two days of play reflected the talent and depth in the Stags' squad.
"There's no gaps in the and the expectations are high for everyone to perform," said the opener who had surgery to his left knee at the end of last summer and believes he's 90 per cent fit.
Raval said whatever Smith and Milne add to the score this morning would be a bonus but the CD bowlers were also itching to get their hands on a shiny new ball to ask defending champions ND some questions in the batting department.