Is it a hangover from the intoxicating white-ball cocktail the Central Districts Stags have been sipping out of a high-ball glass after winning the Super Smash twenty20 crown last Sunday?

It's fair to say the total of 261 all out, in 66 overs, the Greg Hay-captained CD side posted smacks of dry horrors from that sort of Stags do on the opening day of round five of the Plunket Shield match in Rangiora, near Christchurch, today.

Nevertheless, with the Canterbury Kings sitting on 2-88 at stumps the jury is out on whether there is any credence to the Burger King-sponsored T20 theory after Hay, who wasn't in the T20 campaign, won the toss and opted to bat.

"We've only had one training session and pretty much all of us have played white-ball [cricket] so there's some transitioning needed to get ourselves in a good head space to make sure we're ready to play 15 hard days of tough cricket," said wicketkeeper Dane Cleaver of the three remaining matches.


By all means it isn't an attempt to steal the thunder from Black Caps seamer Matt Henry, who claimed 5-76 from 20 overs, including four maidens, for his 13th five-wicket bag in an innings and the sixth for Canterbury or downplay wicketkeeper Cam Fletcher's 150th first-class dismissal when he snaffled opener Hay, for two runs.

If anything, the visitors are quite adept, as defending champions and 2018-19 leaders, to make the 100th first-class encounter between the two sides at Mainpower Oval a memorable one.

Incentives for both parties to prevail have been laid bare — the Heinrich Malan-coached Stags have not lost 21 clashes on the trot while the Kings have yet to conceded a shield match at the venue since December 2015.

It appears as if there was too much juice in the wicket today but what Henry, Andrew Hazeldine, Henry Shipley (two wickets each) and Todd Astle (one) can do the CD bowling attack can do better.

With the Cantabrians choosing to show Black Caps seamer Doug Bracewell some respect, fellow opener Seth Rance and first-change bowler Ben Wheeler removed opening batsmen South African-born Chad Bowes (duck) and Jack Boyle (7) cheaply, respectively.

Former Wellington Firebirds veteran skipper Stephen Murdoch, 47 runs, at first drop, from 85 balls, and Kings skipper Cole McConchie, 32 not out from 68 deliveries at No 4, were beginning to treat each delivery as event to remain unbeaten before resuming tomorrow at 10.30am to chase down 173 runs.

In the CD innings, after Black Caps opener George Worker (12 runs from 39 balls) and Black Cap-in-waiting William Young (20/44) departed, T20 skipper Tom Bruce combined with Cleaver for a fourth-wicket partnership to stop the rot.

"We sort of needed to steer the ship a little bit and forge a partnership so we managed to do that," said Cleaver, acknowledging the Kings' attack but lauding Bruce for his knock while he occupied the other end.


No 4 Bruce didn't waste time, racking up 74 runs from 75 deliveries, including a dozen boundaries and a lusty six over the head of spinner Astle before Henry rattle his furniture.

No 5 Cleaver was more sedate in carving up his 65 runs from 121 balls but will perhaps chastise himself for playing a fly-swatting bouncer from Shipley to find Leo Carter at deep backwards of square leg in a format where it's how many balls you leave that breaks the opposition bowlers' resolve rather than fours and sixes.

"It was a bit of a short turnaround from white-ball cricket so I just needed to realise I'm back playing red-ball cricket," the Manawatu cricketer said with a chuckle.

Season rookie Dean Foxcroft started promisingly with 31 runs from 38 balls but the You Travel Taradale CC premier men's club cricketer knows he will have to show more patience in shot selection to carve up his first four-day half ton after eclipsing his previous best score of 12.

Cleaver said the CD bowlers, as they had done all summer, would aim to claim a couple of scalps early tomorrow to put the hosts back in check.

Stags batsman Dane Cleaver took his time to get himself in for some valuable runs but he'll perhaps chastise himself for the way he threw away his wicket today. Photo/Photosport
Stags batsman Dane Cleaver took his time to get himself in for some valuable runs but he'll perhaps chastise himself for the way he threw away his wicket today. Photo/Photosport