Young guns set to fire at Saxton
The arrival of the Black Caps and the West Indies is imminent but, first, the Central Stags and Northern Knights are set rock Saxton Oval with a Twenty20 spectacle.
Devon Hotel Central Stags head coach Heinrich Malan believes tomorrow's domestic HRV Cup match is the perfect chance for cricket fans to whet their appetite and warm up the vocal cords. And, with the explosive short format, fans on the embankment or in the temporary stands might be required to take a few catches from the first ball at 3pm.
"The Nelson Cricket Association have put in all the hard yards and they have now got the cherry on top with the one-day international being awarded to them," said Malan.
"I am really looking forward to us playing there, it is a great venue, it has a unique club house and structure so we are excited to get things going for Nelson."
The Knights come to town as the top-ranked team in the Twenty20 format, leading the table with three wins from four matches. The Stags have been unlucky, and are nought from three. But Malan is hoping a good turnout at Saxton Oval will help spur the home side to victory.
"Hopefully, over the festive periods, we can draw a crowd in and they can get behind the boys to make sure we can get in positions to win cricket games.
"It will be great if people can back the boys up."
There will be plenty of class out on the Oval and the Stags can call on a number of experienced players, to guide some exciting young talent. Former Black Caps all-rounder Jacob Oram, international imports Josh Cobb and Peter Trego and former international opener Jamie How are all available to play.
"It is always good to draw on their experience and we have got some exciting young boys in our midst as well so hopefully they can learn out in the middle, our younger guns like Will Young, Ben Wheeler and Bevan Small."
Nelson left-arm spinner Marty Kain was statistically the Stags' best short-format bowler last season. Kain will take his place among other established players like How, Tarun Nethula, Kruger van Wyk and captain and all-rounder Kieran Noema-Barnett.
"I was down at Saxton earlier in the year working with the local guys," said Malan.
"Marty Kain has got a big role to play for us, he is quite a canny character and brings a different dimension for us. He can bowl in any situation, whether it is at the top or at the back end."
The Stags face opponents who have enjoyed their limited overs cricket this season and Knights head coach James Pamment said his side was eager to get back into the Twenty20 format.
"The whole group excites me, we have got a good group of young fellas and they are pretty determined to do well in this competition," he said.
"We have made a good start and we hope to continue that at a great venue in Nelson."
With the Australian imports from the earlier games now involved in the Big Bash league, and Tim Southee with the Black Caps, there have been changes, but Northern still have a quality side.
Captain Daniel Flynn will lead the side with support from the experienced Scott Styris while Black Caps BJ Watling and Ish Sodhi come in fresh from their test series win over the West Indies.
The Knights have added Australian fast bowler Chris Tremain, who has been released from the Big Bash League's Sydney Thunder to get more game time.
Pamment said his side was comfortable with the venue, having played a four-day game and a one-day game in Nelson last year.
"I thoroughly enjoyed the environment and the pitch was conducive to good cricket.
"It is a great venue and a nice ground.
"We are really looking forward to being there and putting on a Twenty20 spectacle for those people who give up their time to come and watch cricket."
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