HRV Cup T20
Pukekura Park, New Plymouth
IN THE world of imports and exports, any talk of Chris Gayle gracing New Zealand cricket grounds was going to be always that - talk - fundamentally because it's dirt cheap.
Besides, there's fat chance the West Indian international hitman will want to leave the comforts of his five-star Quay West roost while plying his trade for the Sydney Thunder in the televised Big Bash League in Australia to zip across here to help resurrect the Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags' campaign in the HRV Cup Twenty20 competition.
With just Friday night TV coverage here the glamour factor doesn't measure up. The other drawcard, more importantly, is moolah and that's always going to be an issue even if an independent party comes along in the disguise of Santa Claus of putting one's money where the laughing gear is.
"It's all about money for these guys so when you entertain something like that you have to have some independent finance for it to all come together," Hunt said.
CD host the Northern Districts Knights at the majestic Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, from 4pm today.
The Kieran Noema-Barnett-captained Stags are three zip after another sub-par performance at the Basin Reserve on Boxing Day against the Wellington Firebirds.
It prompted elder statesman of the team, Mathew Sinclair, to describe their overall performance akin to an age-group under-13 representative team after a few crucial dropped catches, misfields that bled boundaries and bowling lines and lengths that would even fail to hook dogfish at the East Pier, Ahuriri, in Napier.
No doubt, CD do need some wind in their sails today but it's time some of the boys pulled their socks up if they wish to remain in the new Cup play-off format that does offer some respite to the third qualifiers this summer.
With seven games in hand, they don't need to win all but throw in a few rained-out affairs and the Stags' fading hopes will be out of their hands.
While Gayle is the perfect red herring, CD have to come to terms with the loss of English import Peter Trego who pulled up injured on Wednesday, one ball shy of his four allotted overs which Noema-Barnett finished off.
"Peter Trego won't play tomorrow [today] so he'll go back home," Hunt lamented yesterday as medical checks confirmed CD's worst fears that Trego had sustained a season-ending grade three abdominal tear.
It's becoming a curse for CD's English imports, considering Graham Napier last summer jetted back to Essex on Christmas Day after an elbow injury following the Stags' last-ball defeat to the Otago Volts in the opening match.
"We're really disappointed for Peter and us because he had found a bit of form," Hunt said of the Somerset county allrounder.
"Yes, we've had a bit of jinx with English imports but we can't predict these sorts of things happening," he said, agreeing the arrival of Zimbabwe international speed merchant Kyle Jarvis is timely after his frugal wicket-less overs in his T20 debut last round.
With Trego's impending departure, Hunt effectively sees the loss of two cricketers - an opening batsman and bowler - prompting him to consider two options today: To inject Bevan Small as an extra pace bowler or go with Ruahine Motors CHB wicketkeeper Ben Smith so the rest of the team can play.
With a drizzle pushing the Stags indoors and aborting plans of a fielding session, Hunt was optimistic the inclement weather from the west was lifting last night.
"It is a bit of a pest but the pitch is lush and Pukekura looks great."
Hunt was loathe to even contemplate finding excuses for their poor run, the worst start in a T20 competition that has left them rooted dead last, below the Canterbury Wizards who also have no points.
"I can come up with babies, illnesses, injuries unavailabilities but we have to make the best of the situation."
ND are four points ahead of Wellington on 16 points with Auckland and Otago on eight.
Expecting batsmen to chase 200-plus totals is unrealistic, meaning paceman Adam Milne, named a Black Cap in the ODI tour of South Africa yesterday, will have to be frugal if not taking wickets.
Conversely, dropped Caps wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk, a new dad this month, needs to find traction with his bat, too.
Jacob Oram, whose wife Mara gave birth to their second son, Thomas, is out of the equation because, Hunt says, he needs to look after their other son, Patrick.
Dumped New Zealand captain Ross Taylor is also out until mid-next month.
Defending one-day champions CD are leading the four-day Plunket Shield this summer.
Purists could argue CD are winning in the format that really matters but Hunt hastens to add the CD board doesn't want them to neglect any part of the game, even if it's a hit-and-giggle affair.
Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags v Northern Districts Knights for today's HRV Cup Twenty/20 match at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, from 4pm:
CD STAGS (from): Jamie How, William Young, Mathew Sinclair, Kieran Noema-Barnett (c), Carl Cachopa, Kruger van Wyk (wk), Adam Milne, Tarun Nethula, Marty Kane, Kyle Jarvis, Ben Smith, Bevan Small.
ND KNIGHTS (from): Anton Devcich, Brad Wilson, Daryl Mitchell, Steven Croft, Scott Styris (c), James Foster (wk), James Marshall, Brett Hampton, Bradley Scott, Anurag Verma, Brent Arnel, Graeme Aldridge.