Cricket: Where have death bowlers gone?

By Anendra Singh

Players have come and gone through the revolving door of selection for whatever reason in the mould of clients at some busy downtown bank branch.

But one thing has remained rigid in the flurry of exchanges for the Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags during their HRV Cup Twenty/20 campaign from hell.

Coach Alan Hunt and assistant coach Lance Hamilton, in taking stock soon, will note with interest the Stags have slept walked their way on the fickle market of the hit-and-giggle format totally devoid of anyone who can justifiably lay claim to the denomination of a decent death bowler.

Even if someone steps up just before the dust settles at Eden Park, Auckland, in the final match against the Gareth Hopkins-captained Auckland Aces it simply won't be enough to balance the books of a mediocre 2012-13 season.

There's always the next summer to dwell on such issues but there's unfinished business to be attended to from 4pm today even if it isn't lucrative enough for Kieran Noema-Barnett's men, who were out of the running for a top-three playoffs berth several rounds ago.

"We haven't bowled well in the last four overs throughout the season," Hunt said last night, his analysis revealing the four-day Plunket Shield pace setters haemorrhaged runs that would test some of the best tourniquets in the medical industry.

With two victories to their credit, CD have employed Adam Milne, Bevan Small, Kyle Jarvis and lately Noema-Barnett to tidy the business end but to no avail.

Today that will again come to the test for the Stags who will finish dead last in a season that promised a lot but delivered little.

Compounding their problems is the Aces' resolve that losing isn't an option today if the hosts want to make the play-offs ahead of Northern Districts Knights banking on CD to again thump Auckland as they did by seven wickets at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, last Wednesday.

Mindful there's nothing more unpredictable than a stray underdog cornered feeding out of a rubbish bin in a dark alleyway, Aces coach Paul Strang said last night claiming four points was crucial amid a dodgy forecast of rain punctuating the day.

"Not playing doesn't work for us," Strang said, accepting a further condensing of the abbreviated match is the nature of the beast for a team that last year became the most successful Kiwi campaigners in the lucrative Club Champions League.

As much as he sympathised with CD's rash of injuries and unavailability of players due to fatherhood, Strang said they were not going to take the visitors lightly although what they'll do different to negate last week's flogging will test their mettle and worthiness to go further.

For CD, Andrew Lamb, who took a pasting in the loss to Otago Volts on Sunday, is out with a hamstring injury and Andrew Mathieson has been called in but will most likely run out with the snake lollies that veteran Jacob Oram carried.

Finishing on a high before the shield campaign in Napier on January 24 is the motivation.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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