Cricket: No time to wallow in self pity

By Anendra Singh

Firebirds v CD Stags

Ford Trophy

Needless to say the boys were gutted after taking some stick from the Northern Districts Knights in the opening round.

It's not how defending champions announce their arrival in any competition, let alone the Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags who were unceremoniously decked in the Ford Trophy one-day match at Saxton Oval, Nelson, on Tuesday.

The turnaround time for celebrating the Plunket Shield victory last Saturday at the same venue was short, leaving little time for Kieran Noema-Barnett and his men to let it sink in, let alone savour their first-class success in what is arguably the most demanding of the three formats of domestic cricket.

But there's no time to wallow in self-pity for the Alan Hunt-coached Stags.

No, there's no room for averting eye contact with each other, let alone oxygen, in the changing sheds to mull over what went horribly wrong.

And, definitely, no excuses albeit myriad wickets around the country bearing the scars of 40-odd days of hard yakka.

Frankly the whirlwind honeymoon phase came and went in the blink of an eye in cricketing time.

If the Stags harbour any doubts no doubt Hunt and Noema-Barnett have been at hand to remind them in no uncertain terms it's back to the orchards of the Basin Reserve today to pick more wickets and amass the maximum number of runs for the co-operative, as it were.

"We're the holders of the Ford Trophy and we're professionals so we'll just have to get ourselves up to play better," Hunt said last night, not long after the team arrived in the capital city.

"We need to improve our standards and fast," he said, mindful the Firebirds dished out an equally impressive spanking to HRV Cup champions Otago Volts at the Basin Reserve on Tuesday.

"We were flat but there's no excuses."

CD need no reminding of what Wellington have inflicted on them this entire summer.

HRV Cup games - lost 2-0 home and away. Two Plunket Shield games - ditto. Forget what gets Jesse Ryder going for a fleeting second.

If the Grant Bradburn-coached ND had racked up a few milestones on Monday against CD then one can only wonder what was fuelling the blokes under coach Jamie Siddon, apart from batsman Michael Papps' 100th domestic limited-overs match.

Among the hosts' landmark achievements were Papps' 10th ton, captain Stephen Murdoch's second century, the best second-wicket partnership of 273-run between the pair (eclipsing Stephen Fleming and Roger Twose's unbroken 244 in the summer of 2000-01) as well as the best partnership for any wicket in the country as they piled 250 runs in 146 minutes.

Hunt said CD struggled adjusting to the new placement with four fielders out of the ring.

Bradburn's scrutiny was fair on a dearth of allrounders and CD looking anaemic in their bowling stocks.

"There are no half bowlers, no Carl Cachopas floating around," Hunt said of the Cornwall club premier cricketer who is turning out for the New Zealand XI against England.

While it was great to inject Black Cap Ross Taylor in the batting line-up it had somewhat upset the balance.

Twelfth man Ben Wheeler will start today at the expense of a batsman, perhaps William Young returning from injury.

Having Doug Bracewell at No 7 helps the cause with Hunt expecting Tarun Nethula to step up at No 8.

It didn't help that CD bowlers bowled two lengths.

Hunt said the Stags needed to use the new balls better, expecting them to bowl to one end with a more stifling offside field, thus resisting that temptation to flirt with the batsmen's pads with straighter deliveries.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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