• The playground is going to be the same for new interim Plunket Shield and Ford Trophy CD Stags coach Aldin Smith but that doesn't mean he won't be encouraging the lads to play with new toys in the sandpit.
• The defending shield and T20 champions welcome to the Stags fold new sponsors Deco City Beer on a two-year contract to help them through their 2019-20 domestic campaign.
Aldin Smith knows the Central Districts lads quite well, not only because of his involvement with the Stags in the past two years but also his role as talent ID performance coach with the major association.
But as the newly appointed interim Plunket Shield and one-day mentor of the Stags, Smith harbours a desire to build a better rapport with the players in an infectious environment that has yielded two consecutive first-class domestic men's crowns under the tutelage of former coach Heinrich Malan last summer.
"I'm very excited because it's something I've been working towards," says the 49-year-old who joined Stags Ben Smith, of Whanganui, and Bayley Wiggins, of Hastings, to welcome Deco City Beer CEO Doug Speedy to the fold on a two-year sponsorship deal in Napier yesterday.
While accepting it isn't going to be a new playground for him, Aldin Smith is keen to add more value to that sense of kinship players and coaches often allude to on establishing a foundation of success.
"I know the boys but what's more important is building those relationships further," he says, adding that knowing them outside of cricket also is imperative to sustaining a dynamic culture.
Mindful CD is a flourishing factory for producing a rash of Black Caps every summer, Smith is happy with the muster for the four-day and one-day Ford Trophy campaigns.
"Even though some didn't make the final 16, they are all quite talented so I can't complain about the squad that's selected," he said, although he's going to lose the services of Ross Taylor, Ajaz Patel, Seth Rance, Doug Bracewell, Adam Milne, Blair Tickner, Ben Wheeler, George Worker and William Young at the drop of a hat.
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The 16 contracted players for the 2019-20 season officially start punching their pay cards on Sunday for a Super Smash crown defence as well as a Plunket Shield three-peat, something only any team have done only twice since its inception in 1922.
South African Smith's liaison with Malan goes back to their hometown of Pretoria in the 1990s. In the late 1980s the pair had played a few games together for the Titans franchise although Smith, an opening batsman, played predominantly for the second-tier, amateur first-class side.
"I've learned quite a lot of what he does, how he goes about things, his planning so it's been very valuable to sit alongside his training sessions and just hearing his views on the game and techniques," he says of Malan who this summer will be at the helm of the Auckland Aces.
"He's very passionate about the game so it's been very valuable taking his learnings."
He laughs at suggestions of facing Malan as a rival now but Smith believes as CD mentor now he'll be putting his stamp on things.
"That's not going to be me coming in and changing a lot of things in a great environment built up here," says the bloke who arrived in Nelson in September 2016 before moving here the following year in September.
"I'm a totally different person to 'H' [Malan]," he says. "I tend to listen to how people go about their business and I value that and then getting them to know your way of thinking."
CDCA chief executive Pete de Wet welcomed Deco City Beer to enhance the fan experience at home games in Napier, New Plymouth and Palmerston North.
"We are partnering with a Napier-based brand that is fast becoming established as one of the best craft brewers in our CD region," De Wet said at the launch.
"Of particular value is Deco City Beer's vision to provide a fantastic brand to the community throughout our Central Districts region and we are very excited about the product and match-day experience they will be providing for our spectators and members in a big line up of Super Smash games."
Speedy says it's a fantastic opportunity to work with a team that champions regional New Zealand.
"This is a very proud day for [us]," says Speedy. "We love our cricket and identified the importance the Stags play in the regional community in which we work. This is a team showing that you don't have to live in the big cities to produce world-class players.
"As a young company continuing Hawke's Bay's great heritage of beer brewing, that's a trait we really identified with — working together to create excellence. We're here to fly the flag of the most modern craft brewery in the world and a winning product, right here in the New Zealand heartland."
While Bruce, Rance and Taylor remain on duty in Sri Lanka for the impending T20 series, Worker is jetting off to the West Indies for a snappy pre-season stint with the Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League.
The core of the Stags squad is in Napier to begin their domestic four-day campaign from October 21 against the Aces at Eden Park outer oval.
Three weeks of intensive pre-season camps in Napier will be staged in Napier from September 30, including warm-up games against the Aces from October 7-10 at Nelson Park.
CD Stags squad:
Doug Bracewell (HB), Tom Bruce (Taranaki), Joshua Clarkson (Nelson), Dane Cleaver (Manawatu), Greg Hay (Nelson), Christian Leopard (HB), Adam Milne (Manawatu), Ajaz Patel (HB), Willem Ludick (Nelson), Seth Rance (Wairarapa), Bevan Small (Manawatu), Ben Smith (Whanganui), Ross Taylor (Wairarapa, NZ contract), Blair Tickner (HB), Ben Wheeler (Marlborough), George Worker (Manawatu), William Young (Taranaki, NZ contract).
2019-20 CD Stags' home games:
Dec 13: v Knights, McLean Park, Napier.
Dec 23: v Kings, McLean Park, Napier (double header with Hinds v Magicians)
Dec 27: v Firebirds, Pukekura Park, New Plymouth (double header with Hinds v Blaze)
Dec 28: v Aces, Pukekura Park, New Plymouth (double header with Hinds v Hearts).
Jan 2: v Volts, McLean Park, Napier (double header with Hinds v Sparks).