Four Nelson players, including two debutants and a shock recall, have been named in the first Central Stags Ford Trophy squad of the 2018/19 season.
In addition a late call-up for 20-year-old Marlborough debutant Ma’ara Ave after wicketkeeper-batsman Dane Cleaver was called into the New Zealand A team in UAE overnight.
Fresh from acing the early rounds of the Plunket Shield, the Stags open their one-day campaign on Wednesday at Nelson’s Saxton Oval against the Otago Volts— but will also be without the services of senior pacemen Adam Milne and Seth Rance who depart for the United Arab Emirates with the BLACKCAPS T20 squad.
However, the surprise recalls of red-ball exponent Greg Hay — Hay hasn’t played a white ball match for the Central Stags since March 2014 — and Kieran Noema-Barnett, who last represented the Stags in The Ford Trophy when he answered an SOS for the then injury-hit side two seasons ago, will bring a wealth of cricketing experience and mentoring to a youthful team full of promising talent, along with new captain Doug Bracewell.
Unlike in 2016/17 when he was technically classed as an overseas player, Noema-Barnett will now play as a “home” player after having ended his tenure with English County side Gloucestershire, for whom he had qualified as a naturalised player through his father’s ancestry.
Barnett, who represents Hawke’s Bay, played 12 List A matches for Gloucestershire during his County career and is coming off solid all-round form for the team in this year’s Vitality Blast T20. He has played 63 Ford Trophy matches for the Central Stags for a Stags career tally off 1051 runs and 43 wickets heading into this season.
Opening batsman Hay, the Central Stags’ captain in the Plunket Shield format only, has previously played 20 Ford Trophy matches with a batting average of 43.60 and, if selected in the playing XI, will take the field under new captain Bracewell.
Senior all-rounder Bracewell will have four players aged 21 or under in a squad missing a host of regulars currently in action on the New Zealand A tour of UAE, as well as all-rounder Ben Wheeler who continues to rehabilitate from off-season back surgery.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Ave (19), all-rounder Willem Ludick (21) and off spinner Felix Murray (19) all stand to make their List A debut in tomorrow’s match with the latter pair at their home ground.
The slightly more experienced Josh Clarkson and Napier all-rounder Christian Leopard are also just 21, and alongside Ludick and Murray are promising talents who represented their countries (Ludick for South Africa) in the 2016 ICC Under-19 World Cup.
Along with Hay, Ludick, Murray and Clarkson form a Nelson quartet — the first time in many seasons that the Stags have featured such a nucleus of Nelson representatives.
The Stags will be coached by interim coach Ben F. Smith for the duration of The Ford Trophy with regular Head Coach Heinrich Malan on duty with NZA in UAE.
The Stags are training until 1pm at Saxton Oval today.
Wednesday’s match is free admission for the Nelson public and begins at 11am.
“We recognise that not everyone can make it along to enjoy a midweek one-dayer, but it’s the reality of a very full summer programme that we do have to play on Wednesdays for some games,” said CDCA Chief Executive Pete de Wet.
“We have two extra rounds of The Ford Trophy this year and, with four Nelson players in the squad, we hope that by making our Nelson matches free admission that it will allow their local supporters, family and friends to pop into Saxton Oval at any time.”
Central Stags squad | Ford Trophy | Round One v Otago Volts
Doug Bracewell — captain, Hawke’s Bay, List A caps: 35 + 16 for NZ + 12 for NZA
Josh Clarkson — Nelson, List A caps: 18
Ma’ara Ave — wicketkeeper, Marlborough, List A caps: 0
Greg Hay — Nelson, List A caps: 19 + 1 for NZA
Christian Leopard — Hawke’s Bay, List A caps: 2
Willie Ludick — Nelson, List A caps: 0
Ryan McCone — Horowhenua-Kapiti, List A caps: 1 + 32 for Canterbury
Felix Murray — Nelson, List A caps: 0
Kieran Noema-Barnett — Hawke’s Bay, List A caps: 63 + 12 for Gloucestershire
Navin Patel — Manawatu, LIst A caps: 4
Bevan Small — Manawatu, List A caps: 30
Ben Smith — Wanganui, List A caps: 39
Round One Ford Trophy
Central Stags v Otago Volts
11am Wednesday 24 Oct 2018
Saxton Oval, Nelson
Livescoring: visit nzc.nz
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Official hashtags: #FordTrophy #LoveTheStags