Was it because of the drought in the red-ball matches or was it because they had got their eye in nicely by the time the white-ball competition started today?

Maybe it was the elbow room that comes with the switch in formats but it hardly matters because Central Districts opening batsmen Greg Hay and Ben Smith put on a record first-wicket partnership to provide a stable, if not solid, platform for the bowlers to eke out a 37-run victory over the Otago Volts in Nelson.

Plunket Shield skipper Hay and Smith, the cricketer not English coach, put on a 167-run stand from 194 balls to signal the Stags' intentions in the opening round of the one-day Ford Trophy in domestic men's cricket at Saxton Oval.

"Obviously red ball [and] white ball [are] very different and I've been batting with Haysey for a very long time now so it's a really good partnership," said Smith, after CD posted 269-7 from their allotted 50 overs after Volts skipper Mark Craig won the toss and elected to shine the ball.

Advertisement

"For us both, we understand each other's game so everything was ticking along nicely today," said the chuckling 27-year-old Whanganui representative who took the cellphone as "Ben Smith the player, not the coach".

Ironically neither of the right-handers have a century in the 50-over campaign. Smith, who has five first-class tons and 15 half-centuries, today scored 93 runs from 100 balls, including 10 boundaries and a six. He overhauled his previous best score of 90 in one-dayers.

New first-class skipper Hay, who probably would have liked to have made a robust start in first-class cricket after a stellar last summer, made up for lost time after returning from List A exile since March 2014 because he was pigeon-holed as a red-ball specialist.

The 34-year-old from Nelson, whose previous highest List A score was 63, today carved up 82 runs from 114 deliveries, including seven fours, for his statement. Hay has 11 first-class centuries and 19 half tons and today added another to four 50s in the List A format.

Smith was oblivious of their milestones during the interview, and that Hay had eclipsed the previous record of 155 runs that former Black Caps batsmen Crag Spearman and Jesse Ryder had set at New Plymouth 2001-02.

For the pair, it's something as simple as "when to run and when not to" between the wickets that fuels their drive towards potentially robust scores while attempting to take the sheen off the ball.

The wickets, he said, tended to be a little more docile in the limited-overs campaign and other variables, such as field restrictions, demanded a bit more imagination and creativity on the crease.

Rather than looking after the ball, they were able to be more expansive with two fielders out.

Advertisement
CD Stags veteran Greg Hay found his form in the white-ball format at his home turf in Nelson today despite missing out on a maiden one-day century. Photo/Photosport
CD Stags veteran Greg Hay found his form in the white-ball format at his home turf in Nelson today despite missing out on a maiden one-day century. Photo/Photosport

Smith said for the pair to translate that back into the red-ball format would be amazing for the undefeated shield defending champions who are in a purple patch so far in both formats this summer.

"Haysey and I would have liked to have posted larger scores but it was tough coming back in towards the end with a lot of cutters and the pitch wasn't as quick and coming on as we would have liked," he said after the Napier middle-order pair of skipper Doug Bracewell and Christian Leopard were the only ones to get into double figures, 27 and 22, respectively in what the Wasp was forecasting as a 300-plus score.

"The bowlers did extremely well, actually," Smith said after skittling the visitors for 232 with 29 balls to spare.

Promoted opening seamer Ryan McCone took 3-34 from 7.3 overs to also be the most frugal. Veteran Bevan Small and Willem Ludick took two scalps each while Bracewell, spinner Felix Murray and comeback veteran Kieran Noema-Barnett got one each.

Smith said it was uplifting for the collective to know they had done the job with two debutants - wicketkeeper Ma'ara Ave and Ludick - as well as a few who had only a handful of caps under their belts.

"To come away like that, especially against an experienced side like Otago, means we're really looking forward to the rest of the campaign," he said, alluding to the number of Stags who are on Black Caps or NZ A duties.

Ex-international Hamish Rutherford (28 runs), ex-CD rep Mitch Renwick (25) and Black Cap Neil Broom (35), Shawn Hicks (21) and Anaru Kitchen (32) got starts but only No7 Josh Finnie showed some intent with 63 from 49 balls.

"Doug's first win as a captain was very good," said Smith, hoping that momentum would remain in their corner from nets to game days.

In other games today, defending champions Auckland Aces scraped home by two wickets over the Northern Districts Knights at Eden Park outer oval while the Wellington Firebirds continued to pile the misery on the Canterbury Kings with a crushing seven-wicket victory at the Basin Reserve.

In round two on Sunday, the Stags host the Kings at the white-ball home of CD Cricket, Pukekura Park before returning to Saxton Oval to host the Knights on Wednesday next week.

ND host the Volts at Seddon Park, Hamilton, in the match of first-round losers while the Aces carry on enjoying home advantage against the Firebirds in the match of undefeated sides on Sunday.

However, the weather forecast suggests it would have been better to stage the Cd match at the revamped McLean Park or adjacent Nelson Park in Napier.

Manawatu seamer Navin Patel was the 12th man and must wonder if he'll get on the park at all this summer in domestic cricket with so many Stags unavailable but, inevitably, returning.

Stags seamer Ryan McCone takes the new ball against the Otago Volts during their opening Ford Trophy campaign at Saxton Oval, Nelson, today. Photo/Photosport
Stags seamer Ryan McCone takes the new ball against the Otago Volts during their opening Ford Trophy campaign at Saxton Oval, Nelson, today. Photo/Photosport