In rattling off the names of his line-up, Central Districts coach Heinrich Malan quickly qualifies he's doing it "from the top of my head".
"How many so far?" Malan asks after a staccato of surnames that pushes his memory bank to the max.
"Ten," I reply. The South African coach sighs, umms and aahs then eventually gets there with the squad of 13 Stags to take on leaders Wellington Firebirds in round eight of the top-of-the-table Plunket Shield match at the Basin Reserve from 10.30am today.
That pretty much sums up the predicament of the William Young-captained visitors as they try to overhaul the 11-point deficit which opened in the last round. Rain rain robbed CD of what was shaping up to be an emphatic victory over the Auckland Aces on a benign batting wicket at the Eden Park outer oval.
"You know how it is," says Malan with a hint of resignation but tempered with an "it-is-what-it-is" scenario.
"We have quite a different side to what we had in the previous game."
It's a double-edged sword for the widely dispersed major association which has nurtured raw talent from an impressionable age to start drip-feeding the Black Caps from its catchment area.
To be honest, that drip has become a consistent flow this summer where the prudent will cut CD some slack for a bare trophy cabinet at its headquarters in Napier due to the yo-yo nature of mustering players for matches over the three formats. Black Caps coach Mike Hesson and convener of selectors Gavin Larsen have picked players as fruit pickers would in the bulging orchards of Hawke's Bay.
But you won't hear anyone fretting in this district.
Malan simply sees it as an exciting opportunity for the newcomers who have shown their worth in CD A colours this week during provincial A matches at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth.
They include anyone from the wide-eyed wonders of tomorrow to those who have cruelly had a taste of domestic cricket euphoria but now find themselves making way for the chosen ones who have earned the stripes to slip on the silver fern for their country.
Those still representing the country and unavailable include New Zealand XI representatives Seth Rance, Doug Bracewell, Ajaz Patel and Greg Hay playing two-day pink-ball and red-ball matches against the touring England side this week before the historic maiden day/night test match at Eden Park, Auckland, starting on Thursday next week.
Internationals George Worker and Ben Wheeler also are out with hamstring and back niggles.
Hay is the top run scorer in the shield format (686) but off-the-boil Jesse Ryder comes in at No 3 on 532 runs while Young is at No 6 on 457.
For the record, it makes one wonder when former New Zealand Under-19 World Cup captain Young, of Taranaki, will have his day on the international stage again as a batsman.
Manawatu medium pacer Navin Patel returns from the wilderness this domestic summer because of a plethora of seamers in the CD catchment, including Bracewell who has 21 first-class scalps to date at eighth equal spot with Ben Lister and Jacob Duffy.
Significantly top white-ball seamer Blair Tickner is back in the fold from a side strain picked up in Napier two rounds ago.
Enter left-arm spinner Felix Murray, of Nelson, a New Zealand under-19 representative to the age-group ICC World Cup here this year.
In the batting front, Willie Ludick comes into the mix with Bayleys Real Estate Havelock North CC premier men's cricketer, Bradley Schmulian, of Auckland.
"He scored a hundred a couple days ago against Canterbury Country and he scored a hundred for the CD A side in a T20 competition," says Malan of the right hander from Nelson who is in the mould of an allrounder who can deliver right-arm seamers.
He says Schmulian can tweak the ball but Murray will be a logical swap for Ajaz Patel, the top first-class wicket taker to date on 35.
"Obviously Jazz is getting a chance for higher honours so it's the same scenario for Felix," he says, impressed with Murray's tidy spells for CD A against their Wellington counterparts this week.
Just as Bracewell did against Otago Volts seamer Neil Wagner two rounds ago at McLean Park, Murray will be able to seek an AA appraisal of sorts against veteran ex-Black Cap Jeetan Patel in the other camp after the spinner claimed a 10-wicket haul against the Volts in Dunedin for the Firebirds' skin-of-the-teeth 18-run victory in their previous round.
Navin Patel, Malan says, has come in as 12th man a few times this season but the availability of Doug Bracewell, Tickner and Bevan Small made it a tight situation this season.
Manawatu wicketkeeper Dane Cleaver returns after overcoming a back injury he picked up while opening batting in the losing one-day Ford Trophy grand final at Pukekura Park last month.
Malan says Cleaver has worked hard to bring the injury under control and to manage it. The medical team has given him the thumbs up this round.
"We could have potentially played Dane in the previous game but he wanted to make sure he was 100 per cent fit before he takes to the park again."
While the Firebirds may be frothing at the mouth a little at the freshness of the CD side he suspects there's talent and depth to keep the Stags on the front foot.
"We still have some seasoned campaigners in there to help the young across the line so it's something we pride ourselves in to make sure our player pool is at a level where when we're without seven or eight regular players we can still play some consistent and quality cricket."
In some respects, this game will become a yardstick for the CD coaching stable to gauge their depth. But the result of this round will go a long way to ensuring who will go down in the history books to claim bragging rights of the last format of the 2017-18 season although two rounds remain.
In other matches, the Canterbury Kings host the Aces at Rangiora Oval while the Northern Districts Knights welcome the Volts to Cobham Oval, Whangarei.
■ CD STAGS: Ben Smith, Brad Schmulian, William Young (c), Jesse Ryder, Tom Bruce, Dane Cleaver (wk), Adam Milne, Navin Patel, Bevan Small, Blair Tickner, Christian Leopard, Willie Ludick and Felix Murray.
■ WELLINGTON FIREBIRDS: Luke Woodcock, Michael Papps, Stephen Murdoch, Michael Bracewell (c), Tom Blundell, Fraser Colson, Logan van Beek, Peter Younghusband, Jeetan Patel, Iain McPeake, Hamish Bennett, Ollie Newton, Devon Conway (wk).