Cricket: CD load up for another crack at Wizards

By Anendra Singh

You could conjure up myriad ways to describe the frustration in failing to find some sort of winning formula when it comes to Twenty/20 cricket.

No doubt, if the blueprint was that simple, teams would have already found a few and that would have sounded the death knell of not just oppositions but also competitions such as the HRV Cup Twenty/20 world over.

As the Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags discovered in the past few days, desperation can yield a favourable outcome but what happens when another team slips their feet into those shoes of urgency?

Figure this out for logic - the Alan Hunt-coached CD thump T20 leaders Northern Districts Knights as the bottom dwellers and then, in the blink of an eye, succumb to woodenspooners Canterbury Wizard at Saxton Oval, Nelson, on Tuesday by four wickets to slip back to the last rung of the table.

It must have felt like chasing that greasy pig in the banned A and P shows of yesteryear.

It was the Wizards' first points of the competition, too, after Tuesday's win as ND (20 points), Otago Volts (16) and the Wellington Firebirds (16) occupy the top-three spots on the ladder.

CD and the Wizards reload at Saxton Oval from 2pm again today to perhaps prove that Tuesday's win was or wasn't a fluke.

Coach Gary Stead, while delighted with the maiden win this summer, didn't mince words in labelling it an ugly victory.

Hunt's disappointment will require another potpourri of adjectives to capture his mood but, suffice it to say, he isn't blaming just the bowlers for the defeat.

"We didn't get enough runs on the board either. We could have scored 165 or nearly 170," he said as veteran opener Mathew Sinclair again showed his prowess as he sits on the fifth rung of the batting ladder with 214 runs.

Firebirds' Jesse Ryder comfortably leads with 380 runs, with Steven Croft on 241 behind him. Anton Devcich, 238, Ryan ten Doeschate, 233, follow with Canterbury's former Stag batsman, George Worker at No 7 on 187 while Brad Cachopa is 177 at No 8. ND skipper Scott Styris (195) is at No 6.

Hey, one thing's for sure. It is a game that heavily favours batsmen.

While CD speed merchants Kyle Jarvis and Adam Milne could have bowled better, batsmen lost wickets at crucial times bar the partnerships between Sinclair, skipper Kieran Noema-Barnett and Carl Cachopa.

One could argue that claiming wickets hardly matters in the name of speed when all spittle shiners have to do is be frugal as CD leg spinner Tarun Nethula did - 2-26 from 4 overs.

If five bowlers did that religiously in a team then they would be chasing a paltry total in the vicinity of 130 or so runs in 20 overs but easier said then done when aggression precedes line and length in schoolboy cricket.

Hunt is sticking with his same 12 today but bringing in a batsman, Jeet Raval, who can also bowl leg spinners, at the expense of a bowler is a possibility.

"Playing Jeets is not out of the question and that has entered our conversation at times but we're not making any decisions at this stage," he says of the four-day Plunket Shield opening batsman brought in after Jamie How left for Palmerston North to be with his wife as she's expecting another child.

No doubt, containing a bloke wielding a long-handle Mongoose bat is paramount for the Stags after No 6 Gareth Andrew hit an unbeaten 53 from 25 balls.

"He hits the ball quite crisply and took the game away from us but we didn't bowl to him that well," Hunt says, mindful he had scored a ton against Auckland Aces in a first-class game too.

CD have to rely on a five-match winning streak from today if they stand a chance of making the top-three play-offs but the permutations become mind boggling when nothing is clearcut in a format designed to entertain the masses and offers the winners a lucrative trip to the World Club Championships later this year.

It's definitely easier for fans to fathom why and how the Wizards were hosts at Saxton Oval on Tuesday and the Stags have assumed that mantle today (because of the New Zealand Provincial A men's tourney at Lincoln, Christchurch, and the women's domestic three-match series between CD Hinds and the Canterbury Magicians at Mainpower Oval, Rangiora). Nelson is in the fragmented CD district although it's part of the Crusaders catchment area in Super Rugby.

While CD's future may rest in others' results too, Hunt simply wants them to get back on a winning note and players to start stepping up.

On a relatively slow/low batting strip, Noema-Barnett is likely to bat again if the 50c piece falls his way.

Stead, the former New Zealand women's team coach, chuckles at the thought of CD's predicament with Andrew although it begs the question - is it the bat or the man wielding it and his mindset?

"They can keep worrying about him but I'm hoping some of my others will be doing the job for us tomorrow."

He doesn't expect the pitch to change much today despite some rain overnight "so there's no excuses for us around that".

As far as Stead is concerned his men can win the remaining five games to secure a play-off berth and playing potentially for the woodenspooners' title today is not part of their thought process at all.

Former CD player Brendon Diamanti will undergo a bowling test today to prove his fitness after a groin injury.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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