A MARLBOROUGH man through and through, Jarrod Englefield could have gone on to play for the Black Caps but regrettably the top-order batsman retired too soon.

But that doesn't mean Englefield has lost his passion for the country's No 1 summer sport since assuming the mantle of global sales manager of Misty Cove Wines this year.

The former Central Districts Stags captain from Blenheim, who turns 37 this Sunday, is instrumental in sponsoring the return of Sri Lanka batting maestro Mahela Jayawardene who will begin his campaign this summer in Napier on Friday.

"With our love for cricket and love for wine, we decided to jump on board to see what we can do," says Englefield before the Heinrich Malan-coached Stags host the Otago Volts in round three of the McDonald's Super Smash twenty20 match from 7.10pm at McLean Park.

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CD team manager Lance Hamilton contacted Englefield two months ago to moot the idea.

"Lance loves wine and loves cricket so we're in the same boat and, I think, Mahela does, too, so it's a win-win for everyone."

Englefield was captain of CD when former two-match ODI Black Caps seamer Hamilton was playing.

He laughs when asked if it was an easy sell on Hamilton's proposal but, on a serious note, says Misty Cove is pretty keen to be involved with sport.

With domestic cricket's catchment area sprawling to as far south as the top of South Island, CD Cricket has become a beneficiary of that.

"We've been dealing with fundraisers in sport in general as well so it sort of made sense to become involved."

Englefield retired at 26, leaving the shores of New Zealand to play, coach cricket and work in the wine industry in the Netherlands for a decade.

While in the Netherlands he was working with fellow Marlborough cricketer Andrew Bailey who is the founder of Misty Cove Wines.

"We basically met playing cricket in Canterbury before we went to the Netherlands where we played and coached and now coach here," he says of Bailey who returned home four years ago while he married Dutch wife Carly and lived there with their three children.

Misty Cove, he says, was the first to market wine in cans.

"It's good for summer and good for portability."

Englefield says when it first came there were many questions around it - in the same vein as when caps replaced corks.

"They wanted to know its quality in cans and if it tasted like tin.

"It doesn't because there's a sealing process to go through to ensure its quality."

Misty Cove market it throughout the country and doubters have been quite surprised by the taste.

Tomorrow, from 6pm to 9pm, there'll be some wine tasting at the Big Barrell, along Carlisle St, in Napier, with Misty Cove exposing its range of products with food. The entry fee is $20.

Jayawardene, who arrives this morning in Napier, will be at the function.

Englefield says the cans won't be for sale at McLean Park on Friday night because of Napier City Council regulations but they will be available to fans in corporate boxes.

"It's just for the fish heads but the public can buy it from Big Barrell," he says with a laugh.

Englefield made his first-class debut with CD in 1999 at McLean Park against a touring India who had Mohammad Azahruddin as captain.

He then left for Canterbury but returned to his home major association in 2003 when he skippered and opened batting for the Stags to the former four-day State Championship (now Plunket Shield) against the Wellington Firebirds at the Basin Reserve.

"It was a pretty good team. We had Lance, Mathew Sinclair and Ross Taylor."

Englefield, a sharp close-in fielder, captained the New Zealand under-19 team in three tests against their England counterparts in 1998-99.

He played a career 55 first-class matches, averaging 34.58, including three centuries and 25 half tons and a highest score of 172.

His A-list career includes 43 matches with an unbeaten 80 as his best knock, averaging 26.25.

"I just used to blunt the new ball, mate, That was my job."

No doubt he was disappointed not to go on to play for his country.

So who disliked him?

"Oh two out of the three selectors," he says jovially before clarifying it was different in those days and relatively still an amateur sport.

Going into the professional era there wasn't much security.

"I had played for eight years and thought I have the opportunity to go higher but I jumped into the wine industry, although I've always stayed with cricket to coach and play it and I still love it."

Englefield says many good players, such as Taylor and Jesse Ryder, were coming through so he could have chipped on to have a turn but the big question was for how long?

"I was no twenty20 player even if it was there because I was more of four-day player, really," he says but on reflection still relishing his time playing the game and seeing a good part of the world.

For the record, his son's name is Jesse and he'd love to see Ryder on the crease on Friday night - no pressure.