Central Districts opening batsman Greg Hay is showing not only is he adept in carving out runs but also assuming the mantle of captaincy for the Stags during their first-class campaign in Alexandra.
Hay continued to heap more misery on the Otago Volts with a double century on day two of the round three four-day Plunket Shield match at Molyneux Park yesterday.
The 34-year-old from Nelson had contributed 226 runs, including 26 boundaries, from 461 balls in occupying the batting crease for 621 minutes over two days shortly before declaring at 6-511 in 160 overs after medium pacer Josh Tasman-Jones trapped him lbw.
Newbie Willem Ludick and fellow Nelson cricketer Joshua Clarkson added 20 more runs to push the Stags' total past the 500 mark before Hay's declaration must have come across as music to the ears of the Volts who had used eight bowlers with little success on a benign batting strip.
It had helped immensely that veteran allrounder Kieran Noema-Barnett had joined his captain to carve up his third first-class ton at the other end to finish with 108 runs from 209 deliveries, including a dozen boundaries, on a sweltering 28C day.
Former CD skipper Noema-Barnett fell victim to debutant Otago spinner Ben Lockrose as he tried to sweep him through midwicket, caught captain Jacob Duffy.
In reply, the Volts were 2-82 with openers Brad Wilson and Cam Hawkins, on debut, back in the changing room for loose change.
No 3 Tasman-Jones and No 4 Shawn Hicks are 29 and 39 not out, respectively, were to resume batting this morning after seeing through 37 overs after the openers departed for 10 runs.
"It's great to see the captain lead from the front and get some serious time out there in the middle," CD coach Heinrich Malan said after Hay posted the highest red-ball score at the venue, ironically eclipsing the 179 runs former Black Caps skipper Ken Rutherford had racked up against the Stags in the summer of 1988-89.
Hay's previous best score in the format was an unbeaten 202. Yesterday he scored his 12th first-class century, which was already in the bag on day one after CD built on an overnight total of 4-278.
Malan said Noema-Barnett also had anchored a fantastic fifth-wicket partnership that had amassed 200 runs from 368 balls, with Hay contributing 89 and the former Gloucestershire county cricketer 105.
"It allowed us to get to the back end of the second session to put our foot down to try to get to that 500 mark to try to put the opposition under some pressure," he said.
Malan, back at the helm after his eight-week NZ A tour of duty, saluted 31-year-old Dunedin-born lefthander Noema-Barnett.
"It was a real mature knock from someone who has a lot of experience and he showed that today in supporting Haysey for that partnership."
With a rash of batsmen, including ex-captain William Young, George Worker and Tom Bruce looking for continuity in a flooded Black Caps' batting market, it is amazing that Stags continue to build sizeable knocks.
Malan said CD batsmen had to continue to perform on a day-to-day basis, mindful they couldn't control the selection process.
"What you can control is your attitude to try to make sure that once you get an opportunity - whether it's at domestic level or down at representative cricket - you have to make sure you're adequately prepared and through performances have the confidence to go out there to do your job."
CD's first-dig total yesterday is the highest score at Molyneux Park, eclipsing the previous best of 456 that Northern Districts Knights established in the 2017-18 season.
However, Malan said CD bowlers were keeping things tight at two runs an over on a good wicket that demanded myriad tactics to exploit five ways of dismissal.
"If plan A doesn't come out of the box then we'll have to look at other plans to try to take a couple more wickets in the next two days," he said with 18 more scalps required for an outright victory for the undefeated defending champions whose purple patch goes back to an unblemished campaign last summer.
Having batted five sessions, Malan said it was imperative to make Otago follow on.
"The boys are excited about the challenge so, hopefully, we can find a couple of ways to dig our toes in to claim those wickets."