Todd Astle to give Canterbury Wizards lift

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 03/12/2012

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The Canterbury Wizards are without one international for their Plunket Shield cricket match against Northern Districts but have another returning today.

On a rain-affected day one at Hamilton's Seddon Park, the Wizards were able to take only two Knights' wickets as their hosts got through to 125-2 in the 50.5 overs that were bowled.

Canterbury welcome back Todd Astle today. Astle returned from Sri Lanka only at the weekend and under New Zealand Cricket's substitute rules, will replace Ronnie Hira in the match from today. Astle's return comes at a welcome time for the Wizards who are without their other international all-rounder Andrew Ellis because of a side injury. Ellis was clearly crook during the side's five-run loss to the Knights in the domestic T20 competition on Friday night but Canterbury coach Gary Stead last night did not know how long he would be out for.

On the pitch, the Wizards could be far better placed than they were after day one, Stead said.

"We probably went past the outside edge of the bat around 30 times today.

"We needed to pitch the ball up a bit more and then we might have grabbed a few more edges."

Gareth Andrew edged out ND skipper Brad Wilson early and James Marshall was caught at first slip off Ryan McCone for 47.

It could have been far better for Canterbury.

Left-armer Willie Lonsdale had both Joey Yovich (40no) and Marshall dropped at point by different players in the same over.

Though nearly 40 overs were lost to rain, Stead said a result was still very much a possibility because of the seam-friendly nature of the Seddon Park wicket.

"It's the type of pitch where you could take six or seven wickets in a session, so a result is definitely still on," he said.

Meanwhile, it was a mixed weekend for the Canterbury Magicians.

After a 54-run thrashing at the hands of the Otago Sparks at Rangiora on Saturday, the Magicians bounced back brilliantly with a 64-run win of their own yesterday.

White Ferns captain Suzie Bates scored 160 in the Sparks' Saturday win, but it was one of the Magicians' own internationals who played match-winner yesterday. Frances Mackay scored her third one-day hundred yesterday as her 116 helped the Magicians through to 307-4. Mackay then picked up the valuable wicket of Bates, trapping her international skipper in front for 58 on her way to picking up 3-45 as the Magicians restricted Otago to 243-9.

The Magicians now sit second on the one-day points table with two wins from four games, while the defending T20 champions are on top in that competition this season.

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