If all the first-choice Central Districts Stags were on the park at the same time this summer then it's fair to say domestic cricket fans can claim to be watching a shadow Black Caps side.

However, the Stags aren't but that the green army are unbeaten in the first-class format since October 2016 is a testimony to the talent and depth in CD coach Heinrich Malan's squad this season.

Greg Hay-captained CD have made one change to the side who walloped Otago Volts by an innings and 88 runs in round three at Alexandra last Sunday.

Opening batsman George Worker returns from New Zealand A duties as CD host the Wellington Firebirds at Saxton Oval, Nelson, from tomorrow in the four-day, eight-round Plunket Shield campaign.

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That means newbie and homeboy Felix Murray, a spinner, drops out of the equation as hard as that may be for the young man to stomach.

"Obviously when you get into a position where people have performed then you get back people who have represented the country at higher honours so we have to make sure we have to balance our team accordingly and in terms of what we expect the conditions to offer," said Malan.

The NZ A mentor said while CD headquarters was spreading the gospel on their purple patch in the shield campaign, including becoming only the second major association side to have won the shield undefeated in its history, the Stags were oblivious to that.

"It's something that is definitely out there but it's not something we focus on, just like any other thing we've focused on," he said, emphasising they wanted to try to win every campaign they embarked on with some purpose and determination.

The Firebirds have proven to be a slippery banana skin for the Stags in the past few seasons, something that isn't lost on Malan who, like the players, is mindful they are coming off winning the Ford Trophy and have produced marquee players in the Black Caps' squad.

"From our perspective it's an exciting challenge and we're going in pretty much full strength to play better cricket than we have to test ourselves."

Fellow NZ A seamers Doug Bracewell and Seth Rance have been rested to manage their heavy workload.

Christian Leopard, Bevan Small, Ben Smith, Adam Milne and Ben Wheeler are recovering from injuries.

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Ross Taylor, Ajaz Patel and former CD skipper William Young are unavailable due to Black Caps test selection.

Malan said the Saxton Oval groundsmen were doing their utmost to ensure the sides wouldn't be encountering the placid wickets of the past, such as the one about two years ago when they played the Otago Volts where four days of cricket yielded only eight wickets.

"It's obviously their challenge to try to produce a wicket that'll be a fairer contest but, in the same breath, it's not necessarily that the wicket won't give any turn or spinners assistant."

CD coach Heinrich Malan (left) says while George Worker (with helmet) may be disappointed in missing out on Black Caps selection it's all about his attitude. Photo/file
CD coach Heinrich Malan (left) says while George Worker (with helmet) may be disappointed in missing out on Black Caps selection it's all about his attitude. Photo/file

Murray's absence, he said, wouldn't rob the Stags of tweakers because the likes of Bradley Schmulian and Dean Foxcroft had shared the workload and offered that depth.

"George can also offer some spin, too, so it's all about balancing the team and having enough options," he said of the left-armer.

Malan said a greenish tinge tomorrow would highlight the need for batsmen to adapt in the first few hours with the promise of better traction later on.

A few showers are forecast tomorrow and Saturday but the following two days are sublime.

The shield competition will go into recess as the six major association teams will enter the Burger King Super Smash Twenty20 arena a day after Boxing Day. The red-ball format will resume on February 21.

He said test players Patel and Young had performed consistently with ball and bat, respectively, and deserved any higher honours that come their way.

"They've done all the hard work and they are on a new stage so they'll need to go through the processes of preparing well and trusting everything else will take of themselves."

Malan said while Worker, akin to Rance and Bracewell, might be disappointed not to have advanced to the test arena after NZ A duties that was the nature of elite cricket.

"You just hope that you've thrown your name in the hat but, again, selection isn't something that we control.

"The only thing we can control is our attitude and the chance to get on the wicket so that's the challenges out there for him.

"It's for him to go back there and put some consistent runs on the board so that when another chance comes along it'll get you in there," he said.

CD Stags shield squad: Greg Hay (c), Tom Bruce, Joshua Clarkson, Dane Cleaver (w), Dean Foxcroft, Willem Ludick, Ryan McCone, Navin Patel, Kieran Noema-Barnett, Brad Schmulian, Blair Tickner, George Worker.

NZ A batsman William Young faces India A bowler Khaleel Ahmed at the Bay Oval in the Bay of Plenty. Photo/NZME
NZ A batsman William Young faces India A bowler Khaleel Ahmed at the Bay Oval in the Bay of Plenty. Photo/NZME