Laughlin to boost Canterbury Wizards

WIZARD IN WAITING: Australian seamer Ben Laughlin has been signed by the Canterbury Wizards as a death-bowling option.
WIZARD IN WAITING: Australian seamer Ben Laughlin has been signed by the Canterbury Wizards as a death-bowling option.

The Canterbury Wizards will have their own Australian firepower for their opening domestic Twenty20 match against Wellington on Friday.

While not as well known as the capital's Australian speedster, Shaun Tait, Ben Laughlin has also played for his country - five times in the 50-over format, plus one T20 international game.

Laughlin, a 30-year-old Victorian who has played for Queensland and Tasmania, is a specialist death bowler.

He will join the Wizards in Wellington on Thursday but will not be available for their second game on November 30 because his Tasmanian Tigers are playing at the same time.

His six international games came at the height of Australia's fast-bowling injury crisis in early 2009.

Laughlin took five wickets during his international cameo.

With Matt Henry out until Christmas and Hamish Bennett a 50-50 chance to play on Friday, Laughlin adds much-needed experience to the Wizards. "We're a wee bit light on experience with the bowling lineup and Ben is a specialist death bowler which is obviously valuable," Wizards coach Gary Stead said.

"He does it all the time and he's also an exceptional fielder."

Laughlin has pedigree; his father, Trevor, played three tests and six one-day games for Australia in the late 1970s.

Bennett was considered a possibility to play on Friday, Stead said, after the 25-year-old bowled four overs for his club on Saturday.

Neither his 0-7 nor a rare club appearance from Dean Brownlie were enough to help Riccarton win their match but Bennett was happy to be back on the park.

"It felt good but it's obviously a big lift in intensity to domestic cricket," he said.

Bennett last bowled in a competitive game at Show Weekend last year but is now nearing the end of his comeback and is slowly increasing his bowling load.

Whether Canterbury risk his rehabilitation on a T20 game remains to be seen.

The Wizards will likely be light on spin options when Stead's 13-man T20 squad is named today.

Leg-spinner Todd Astle is not available as he will be en route to join the Black Caps test team in Sri Lanka, while limited-overs internationals Rob Nicol and Ronnie Hira are already there.

Tim Johnston is certain to play while George Worker is another slow bowling option, though a club player could be called up.

English import Gareth Andrew has recovered from the leg injury he picked up in the side's Plunket Shield opener and is available.

The Press