Mark Gillespie has been dropped from Wellington's Twenty20 side in the only change to the lineup to face Auckland at Westpac Stadium tomorrow.
The fast bowler, who eight months ago played a starring role in the New Zealand test side against South Africa, will be restricted to Plunket Shield cricket as he rediscovers his speed and rhythm after an ankle injury layoff during the winter.
He looked off the pace last Friday, conceding 40 runs off his last three overs amid figures of 0-43 in Wellington's season-opening six-wicket win over Canterbury.
Scott Kuggeleijn was summoned to the 12 yesterday and will vie with Dane Hutchinson to join pacemen Shaun Tait and Andy McKay.
"He needs a little bit more work in four-day cricket before we'll push him back up there," coach Jamie Siddons said of Gillespie.
"We're really interested in getting him back at full pace and hitting his yorkers. A few more miles in his legs and he'll be sweet, another four-day game and he'll be considered again."
Gillespie's best work has been in the longer format and he was in danger of losing his T20 spot last summer, taking two wickets at 104 with an economy rate of 10.40 in six matches.
"He's got some work to do but Mark knows everything that needs to be done. He's doing the work in the nets and we just need to find out a bit about these other guys," Siddons said.
Australian Hutchinson, a handy death bowler, appeared the obvious replacement but Siddons was warming to Kuggeleijn's potential and planned to give him a trial run at the Basin Reserve this morning.
"Kuggy is the explosive batsman; he got 120 [in club cricket] at the weekend and that excites us as well. It'll be a toss-up.
"We'll have a look at him in the nets, probably throw Kuggy a new ball and see how he stacks up with that. We know Hutchinson can take a new ball."
Whoever gets thrown the new Kookaburra will have to contend with prolific former Australian batsman Brad Hodge who is the Auckland Aces' import for their competition opener.
It sets up an intriguing duel with his compatriot, Tait, who was outstanding in his Wellington debut, taking 2-14 and proving too quick for Canterbury's batsmen in the mid-140kmh bracket.
With their Australian connection, at least the Firebirds won't be short on theories about Hodge. "Taity and Borgy [Cameron Borgas] know a lot about him and I've been with him for three years with the Aussies so I know a fair bit about him," Siddons said.
"He's a dynamic, smart T20 cricketer so we're all a bit wary of him. Shaun will have his chance; I'd imagine Hodge will open."
Wellington (from): Jesse Ryder, Michael Pollard, Michael Papps, Cameron Borgas, Grant Elliott (c), Luke Ronchi, Harry Boam, Luke Woodcock, Shaun Tait, Andy McKay, Dane Hutchinson, Scott Kuggeleijn.
Auckland (from): Lou Vincent, Brad Hodge, Colin de Grandhomme, Dusan Hakaraia, Colin Munro, Craig Cachopa, Gareth Hopkins (c), Bruce Martin, Michael Bates, Mitchell McClenaghan, Lockie Ferguson, Bhupinder Singh.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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