Mickey Arthur was here, metaphorically speaking, and then gone even before he put his foot on Napier soil this summer.
South African-born Arthur, who Pakistan axed as coach in August, is no longer in the equation of the Central Districts Stags' Dream XI Super Smash campaign next month.
It was unclear why but there's some conjecture in the media he is likely to be at the helm of the Sri Lanka men's team despite incumbent Chandika Hathurusingha not losing his perch.
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"Mickey is a great cricket coach and a top guy, and I wish him well in his next assignment," CDCA chief executive Pete de Wet announced in a press statement today. "We are obviously disappointed that Mickey requested a release from his contract as he would have brought his extensive experience and energy to our campaign — something that we were really looking forward to."
However, Sri Lanka Cricket CEO Ashley de Silva was quoted on the CricketNext website a fortnight ago as telling ESPNCricinfo the parties were in negotiations and suspected they would reach an agreement.
Arthur also has coached the Proteas and Australia.
All that means the Stags will come under the tutelage of interim coach Aldin Smith in all three formats although he was originally granted just the one-day Ford Trophy and four-day Plunket Shield roles.
Smith, who was deputising for two years under former CD coach Heinrich Malan, also was talent ID performance coach with the major association whose catchment area is scattered from Nelson and Marlborough in the South Island to as far up as New Plymouth in the North Island.
He is in Christchurch where the CD men were preparing for their match against the Northern Districts Knights in round five after claiming their first victory in the limited-overs format, beating the Wellington Firebirds by 29 runs, at nearby Lincoln yesterday.
His 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.
Dannevirke-born former Black Caps wicketkeeper/batsman Luke Ronchi becomes the bolter in the CD coaching stable as Smith's 2IC.
Ronchi, who emigrated with his family as a child to Perth returned to New Zealand to reignite an international career he had flirted with in representing Australia but had chosen to fly the colours of the Wellington Firebirds in the domestic arena.
A T20 exponent, he will be diving into the deep end when the defending champion Stags open their account against the Northern Districts Knights, the beaten 2018-19 grand finalists, on Friday, December 13, at McLean Park, Napier, from 7.10pm. It's a free entry for fans."We are confident that Aldin is well placed to add the T20 campaign to his current scope as interim Stags coach for this season," said De Wet, also welcoming Ronchi's "specialist expertise".
"Luke brings with him an absolute wealth of experience in the T20 format, both as a respected international player and coach, and is excited to be linking up with the Stags for the imminent trophy defence," he said.
Ronchi, who also carved a niche in marquee T20 franchise leagues globally — including stints with the Mumbai Indians, Perth Scorchers, County sides Somerset, Warwickshire and Leicestershire as well as the Guyana Amazon Warriors — made his Black Caps debut in May 2013 before representing them in all three formats.
The 38-year-old, who embraced an aggressive stance as a batsman, retired internationally as a player in June 2017.
He returned to the Black Caps fold in April this year on a short-term NZ Cricket contract as the fielding and wicket-keeping coach during the Kiwi men's heartbreaking loss to hosts England in the super over of the one-day ICC Cricket World Cup.
Ronchi will join the Stags stable in Napier next week when the T20 squad will go into camp.
Malan's legacy is reflected in the Stags' making three Super Smash finals on the trot and defending their successive first class bragging rights last summer.
The Tom Bruce-skippered Stags have scaled to fourth place from last on the one-day ladder, on eight points, as the Canterbury Kings set the pace on 16.
CD batsman George Worker leads the run-scoring department with 236, ahead of fellow Black Cap Martin Guptill on 228.
Bruce comes in at No 5 on 202 runs while wicketkeeper Dane Cleaver is ninth on 160.
Veteran Greg Hay and Hawke's Bay spinner Jayden Lennox return to the mix for the one-dyer tomorrow with fellow Nelson batsman Joshua Clarkson rested for concussion and test spinner Ajaz Patel, of Auckland, unavailable.
Black Caps veteran swing bowler Seth Rance is the Stags' pick of bowlers with nine scalps, in second equal position with left-arm medium pacer Benjamin Lister while right-armer of a similar ilk Ollie Newton, of Wellington, is on the top rung with 11 wickets.