Cricket: Plunket Shield goes day-night for test round

By David Leggat

Mitch McClenaghan returns after being laid low for weeks by a foot injury.  Photo / Jason Oxenham
Mitch McClenaghan returns after being laid low for weeks by a foot injury. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Plunket Shield cricket goes under lights, and with a pink ball, for the first time today.

The seventh-round matches are going day-night to check the facilities with the latest version of the pink ball - black stitching, not green - with the long game being the suitability of the grounds for England's marquee visit next summer.

The likelihood is Eden Park will host one of the tests, so Auckland will host shield leaders Canterbury over the next four days, with the southern stand open to the public, the rest shut off; second-placed Northern Districts face bottom side Central Districts at Seddon Park; while Wellington meet Otago in a first shield game at Westpac Stadium, which has lights, something the Basin Reserve does not.

There are plenty of boxes to be ticked before a test can be signed off at a New Zealand ground. The quality of the lighting is one aspect. Assessing visibility for the players is another, while in Eden Park's case, a dispensation would be required to allow the ground to be used on a Sunday night.

New Zealand Cricket will hold a significant debrief with the major associations, and players, after the round to soak up the feedback.

Take out the international players and it will be a new experience for the majority of domestic cricketers.

Martin Guptill's foray into the middle order for Auckland is on hold. His hamstring issues have ruled him out of the match, but international seamer Mitch McClenaghan returns after being laid low for weeks by a foot injury. Auckland have had practice sessions under lights in the past two weeks.

There's no question NZC are keen to dip their toes into the day-night test game. Australia have hosted three - the first against New Zealand at Adelaide last season - and then against Pakistan and South Africa at Brisbane and Adelaide respectively.

New Zealand coach Mike Hesson supports the trial this week. "The odd day/night test is exciting," he said yesterday. "It brings in a different skill set "... there are certainly nuances to pick up and if our first-class guys get some experience in it before test cricket then great."

Auckland-Canterbury
Auckland team to play Canterbury at Eden Park, from 2.30pm today: (from) Rob Nicol (c), Glenn Phillips, Michael Guptill-Vance, Robbie O'Donnell, Colin Munro, Sean Solia, Mark Chapman, Ben Horne, Donovan Grobbelaar, Tarun Nethula, Lockie Ferguson, Mitch McClenaghan.

- NZ Herald

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