Final day, Plunket Shield
Nelson Park, Napier
Okay, so there were enough indicators things weren't going too smoothly when the Otago Volts arrived here.
If the New Zealand Cricket website scoring system is anything to go by the game against Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags in the past four days in Napier was played at McLean Park.
No, it was at Nelson Park and the visitors can be forgiven for asking if they could lug their coffins to the changing rooms below the Harris Stand after their training session on Sunday.
CD also had their share of wobbles on the field with four of them - Mathew Sinclair (bug), captain Kieran Noema-Barnett (torn calf), Tarun Nethula (shoulder dislocation), and English import Peter Trego (calf strain) - not firing on all cylinders come day three.
The poster of CD's televised HRV Cup Twenty/20 match at McLean Park from 7pm on Friday next week features Nethula on a glossy poster in the match against Wellington Firebirds but, regrettably, he won't be delivering his leg spinners.
All that aside, one thing was dead certain well before lunch on day one - the Alan Hunt and Lance Hamilton-coached side were on track to dish out a good, old-fashioned walloping to the Vaughn Johnson-coached Volts.
That came to pass fairly quickly once the new ball was taken, as paceman Andrew Mathieson collected his maiden first-class five-wicket bag for a crushing 10-wicket victory after Otago could only add another two runs to their anaemic overnight total.
CD openers Jeet Raval (14 not out) and Jamie How (5no) deftly overhauled the 12-run target for the Stags in 4.5 overs to toast their success in retaining their top-of-the-table status.
"Aussie Tom", "Aussie Rob", assistant coach Hamilton and 12th man William Young, coming to the rescue from Wednesday, deserved a cold one, too.
"We definitely completely outplayed them in all aspects of the game, especially after losing the toss," Hamilton said yesterday.
Bar the early morning blitz on day one with the ball, the Derek de Boorder-captained Volts barely found a spark let alone lit the fuse to the Plunket Shield match after arriving here as runners-up on the shield table.
Hamilton pointed out it could have been interesting had CD been chasing more than 100 runs yesterday morning in their second innings.
Because No 4 batsman Sinclair, No 6 Trego and No 8 Nethula had not been on the paddock for the stipulated time, it meant they couldn't bat high up the order.
That would have prompted the promotion of No 7 Smith to No 4, after in-form Carl Cachopa, with No 9 Adam Milne to No 5, and No 10 Andrew Lamb to No 6.
"But, as I said to you from Gissy the other day, all the guys can bat."
Hamilton lauded ex-ND rep Mathieson's stint as outstanding but attributed the maximum 20 points - 4 each for batting and bowling and 12 for an outright win - to a great team effort. "I said to the lads it was all about having the ticker and some mongrel."
Hamilton felt ex-Wellington seamer Andrew Lamb also bowled with aplomb but was unlucky.
The Stags have 63 points, establishing a sizeable lead over Otago on 33 on the points table, with three outright wins from four games.
Auckland are third on 30 points but their chances of an outright win over the Firebirds fizzled out yesterday when a persistent drizzle took hold, preventing any play at Eden Park's outer oval.
Wellington (145-2) needed another 133 runs to make Auckland bat again, with the home side seeking eight wickets for victory.
He had fielded for CD only two summers ago when he caught former CD and retired ND/Black Caps wicketkeeper Peter McGlashan on the boundary.
"I still take catches in warm-ups and fielding practice because I know when the chance comes to field I don't want to let the boys down," Hamilton said, adding he still wanted the ball to come his way so that was a good sign.
Asked if he was tempted to push the Stags around the field on Wednesday and yesterday, Hamilton replied: "I did put a flea or two in the ear of some boys."
Nethula's injury was classed a grade-two one so the tweaker, who scored his maiden ton on Wednesday, has been pencilled in to return for the Boxing Day T20 match against the Firebirds at the Basin Reserve from 3pm.
Hard-hitting Noema-Barnett is definitely out of the equation for the McLean Park T20 next week, too.
"We are waiting on which Black Caps are available once they return from Sri Lanka before naming our final line-up on Monday," Hamilton said.
The other surety is that veteran Black Cap Jacob Oram, of Palmerston North, is itching to play, but captain Ross Taylor, wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk and allrounder Doug Bracewell will have to seek clearance from New Zealand coach Mike Hesson.
Bracewell was omitted from the shorter version of the Caps' Sri Lankan tour but that isn't likely here unless Hesson objects.