Talk high-twitch fibre blokes and it's easy to label Adam Milne as the forgotten man of in elite-level cricket in New Zealand.
To a certain extent that is understandable because of the number of elite cricketers the Central Districts Stags factory rolls out on its conveyor belt each summer.
However, Milne returns at an opportune time for his first Burger King Super Smash Twenty20 match of the 2018-19 season just as the Heinrich Malan-coached Stags try to secure a home semifinal.
Milne's timely return from a hamstring injury, picked up just before Christmas, puts him in the frame for the 4pm crunch clash with the Auckland Aces at Eden Park Outer Oval after the 26-year-old Black Cap was among one of three changes in the CD squad today.
Malan says the Aces will be brimming with confidence, having beaten a bolshy Northern Districts Knights who are setting the pace in the campaign.
"We have to make sure we rock up and do the basics well to execute our plan," he says of the Tom Bruce-skippered Stags who are already in the top three playoffs, alongside the Aces and defending champions Knights, but must win today's encounter if they are to then host the 2 versus 3 elimination final at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, on Friday next week.
"Teams are a lot more competitive and they are starting to work out how to play twenty20 much better, which puts New Zealand cricket in a better position," Malan says.
He feels the Stags could well be in the eliminator final.
"So it's a big game coming up [today], sort of a quarterfinal with a spin off for a potential semifinal but, once again, in these playoffs games anything can happen."
Milne is returning in time for white-ball game breaker Blair Tickner who joined the Black Caps T20 squad camp yesterday to play India in the final ANZ T20 series match at Seddon Park, Hamilton, from 8pm tomorrow.
The elimination final winners will cross bats with the yet-to-be-determined top qualifier in Super Smash grand final.
Milne says home advantage in the sudden-death 2v3 match at a packed Pukekura Park will do the Stags' cause wonders.
"First of all we'd like to get into a roll of winning games so that always helps getting into the playoffs and then the finals," says the 26-year-old from Manawatu.
Milne says the compact but picturesque Pukekura Park is familiar to all the CD boys who tend to thrive with the vociferous support they receive from parochial fans who turn out in droves with their summer picnic hampers to find a vantage perch on the stepped seating arrangement.
Milne is one of three changes to the Central Stags squad that beat the Wellington Firebirds at the Basin Reserve this week, with wicketkeeper-batsman Dane Cleaver, of Palmerston North, returning from a back niggle for stand-in Bayley Wiggins, of Heretaunga Building Society Cornwall CC player, and allrounder Willem Ludick, of Nelson, coming back in after competing in the zone 3 Hawke Cup final between Nelson and Marlborough at the weekend.
Ludick is replacing Doug Bracewell, of You Travel Taradale CC premier men's club, who also is in the mix with Tickner to take on India although he was on Eden Park as a substitute fielder in the Black Caps' defeat last night. Tickner sat on the bench next to injured spinner Mitchell Santner.
After a strong 2017-18 and 2018 off-season, Milne has made only one other appearance for the Stags in the current season — which also was against the Aces at Eden Park outer oval, in the second round of the first-class Plunket Shield.
He is trying to get his body back into a normal rhythm.
■ CD STAGS: Tom Bruce (c, Taranaki), Joshua Clarkson (Nelson), Dane Cleaver (w, Manawatū), Dean Foxcroft (HB), Willem Ludick (Nelson), Adam Milne (Manawatū), Ajaz Patel (HB), Seth Rance (Wairarapa), Bevan Small (Manawatū), Ben Wheeler (Marlborough), George Worker (Manawatū), William Young (Taranaki).
Coach: Heinrich Malan.