Plunket Shield: Kain will be able

By Anendra Singh

The boys were beside themselves in the changing room in Gisborne and who could blame them.

The Alan Hunt-coached Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags did sleepwalk their way to an emphatic victory over Plunket Shield defending champions the Northern Districts yesterday.

It was to the tune of an eight-wicket whipping at the Harry Barker Reserve ground and comfortably before lunch although the Kieran Noema-Barnett-skippered CD weren't exactly wolfing down wholemeal burgers to celebrate to the tune of the team song to mark their presence on the top rung of the four-day, first-class competition ladder.

No doubt they didn't have much idea as to what the time was when the visitors trudged off the field with opener Jeet Raval defiant on 57 not out on the heels of a first-innings 73 and, on the other end of the batting crease, wily old campaigner Mathew Sinclair was unbeaten on seven.

CD had hopped, skipped and jumped their way to overhaul a total of 95 on resumption of play in just 20.3 overs.

It was always going to take something special for Northern Districts to deny Central Districts on the final day of their Plunket Shield cricket match in Gisborne and they made little impression against a side who have now jumped to the top of the table.

Central Districts enjoyed an eight-wicket win over Northern, coasting to their target of 95 for the loss of two wickets inside 20.3 overs.

Veteran opener Jamie How (20 runs) and Carl Cachopa (nine) fell to opening seamer Brent Arnel but no points for guessing what the Stags' mindset was yesterday morning.

The CD batsmen had brought up 50 runs from 90 balls before drinks.

"It was a great morning because the bowlers didn't have to put on their spiked shoes or anything else," said Havelock North allrounder Ben Wheeler after he and Black Caps speed merchant Adam Milne took 12 wickets in the match - four each on day three - to put their side in a commanding position.

"Jeets and Skippy [Sinclair] got the runs off pretty smartly to finish. We weren't watching the time, mate, but we did savour the moment," Wheeler said.

He felt it was always a new-ball pitch so to win the toss and to perform the demolition derby within the first 50 overs was immensely satisfying, considering it paved the way for batsmen to do their business after two days of rain before the game made it a seamer's paradise.

Wheeler lauded Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay wicketkeeper Ben Smith for taking seven catches as well as scoring 64 not out in the first innings.

"In the aftermatch speech from the coach, Ben was singled out for his quality of keeping and holding his nerves with the bat so look out Kruger van Wyk," he said amid laughter in the background.

Veteran Black Cap van Wyk is in Sri Lanka but he is the No 1 gloveman for CD.

"He'll be going back to CHB if Ben Smith keeps his form."

The Stags had the afternoon off but were leaving for Hamilton this morning to prepare to switch to the HRV Cup Twenty20 mode.

It'll be CD's first T20 match and the game will be televised live on Sky on Friday from 7pm.

Jocularity aside, it's fair to say CD, who are the Ford Trophy one-day champions, will have to hit the ground running in the hit-and-giggle competition because if previous seasons' premature exits are anything to go by, the season in other formats can rapidly turn to custard if the men find they haven't secured a playoff berth to give them a chance to play in the annual Club World Championship.

"We've been bowling enough [in the shield games] to be ready for the T20," Wheeler said, adding they had the wood on ND.

"We've got Marty Kain who's a top quality spinner so he's been practising the doosra and it's been coming out well," he said of the left-arm orthodox bowler from Nelson.

If the 24-year-old runs on then it'll be his debut in the HRV Cup.

Kain said he was getting deliveries coming back in to the right-handers from what he preferred to call "an arm ball".

"I've been practising it in the nets and I've got Dean Robinson out a few times already," he said, adding left-arm offspinner Ajaz Patel and the other boys were pretty excited, too.

Kain said it was vital for bowlers to keep thinking on their feet to bowl variation balls to be successful in a game that heavily favoured batsmen.

While Sinclair's Movember growth was "a beauty", Kain said he would have to up the tempo with the bat and keep wickets.

English import Peter Trego is on the maybe list.

Rain yesterday abandoned the second day of Canterbury's shield match against Wellington in Rangiora.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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