Cricket: Stags missing bunch of top order players

By Anendra Singh

Plunket Shield

Karori Park, Wellington

Put in a nutshell, Doug Bracewell is out, captain Kieran Noema-Barnett is out, and, yes, Ross Taylor is out.

Wicketkeeper Ben Smith is out, too, so that could only mean axed Black Cap Kruger van Wyk is in for the four-day Plunket Shield match for the Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags against the Wellington Firebirds.

"Kruger's wife [Zenandi] went into labour about the time the game was starting," CD coach Alan Hunt said yesterday of Van Wyk who became a proud father to baby Gerard during the HRV Cup Twenty/20 match that CD lost to the Firebirds at McLean Park, Napier, on Friday night.

While Hunt hadn't spoken with the Van Wyk, who lost his berth to fellow South African-born BJ Watling, he gathered the highlight of having their first child would have been a timely distraction on missing out on selection.

"Knowing Kruger, he'll bounce back to prove the selectors wrong," he said of the Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay player who took nine international catches since his debut last summer under the John Wright reign but his runs had dried up on tour.

While Hunt had no indication as to when Taylor was returning, he has left it to the dumped New Zealand skipper to decide when he wishes to play for CD.

"Coming back by Boxing Day might be too early for him because he'll probably want to spend some time with his young family over Christmas," he said.

Black Caps allrounder Bracewell will not play today because of a thumb sprain on his right hand after dropping match-winner Jesse Ryder in Friday night's T20 match.

Noema-Barnett remains on the injury card with a calf strain.

That means last round's 12th man, William Young, who also batted well in the T20 match, replaces his skipper in the middle order.

In the other change, CD left-arm orthodox spinner Ajaz Patel, who made his T20 debut, will make his shield debut today with ex-Black Cap legspinner Tarun Nethula out of the equation after dislocating his shoulder against Otago Volts here last month.

Roald Badenhorst rounds up the 12 but with four seamers - Black Cap Adam Milne, Andrew Lamb, Andrew Mathieson and English import Peter Trego - it is unlikely all four will start, although Hunt had still to inspect the wicket.

Mathieson bowled out of his skin in Friday night's T20 defeat, unlucky not to have nailed Ryder twice because of Patel and Bracewell whoopsies before uprooting the former international's stumps.

"He's doing a lot of good things while Lambie has bowled well but hasn't got wickets but all four are doing a great job," Hunt said.

However, in-form first-class batsmen Carl Cachopa, a surprise omission from the Black Caps squads announced on Friday, will shoulder more responsibility with the ball.

Often seen as a batsman who can bowl, the Heretaunga Building Society Cornwall player is equally effective with his medium pacers.

"Cachopa has taken nine cheap wickets at shield level so we hope to get more exposure out of him as an allrounder."

On Friday, veteran short-form Black Caps allrounder Jacob Oram didn't play because he wasn't well.

"Jake had a throat infection or some kind of a virus and didn't feel too well on Thursday evening.

"He got up next morning not feeling any better so he just drove back home," Hunt said of Oram who was once seen as a potential; New Zealand captain and lives in Palmerston North.

Former Hawke's Bay cricketer Ryder has become a nemesis for CD this summer.

If they had any doubts coming into the shield season about how the former Napier Boys' High School student lifts himself for games against the Stags, last Friday night's T20 onslaught was again a reminder.

Reiterating assistant coach Lance Hamilton's view, Hunt said while Ryder did have a hold on CD the Stags didn't help their cause by dropping him.

CD also had an inexperienced tinge with three T20 debutants on Friday and also in the loss against Northern Districts in Hamilton but still felt they could make the T20 play-offs in a season where No2 and No 3 will play off to earn the right to play the top qualifiers in the final provided they win their remaining eight games.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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