Canterbury Wizards hired gun pulls out
The Canterbury Wizards' hopes of having West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Smith to bolster their T20 side have been scuttled, but not in the initial way they expected.
Smith, 29, was battling visa issues last week to get into New Zealand in time for the Wizards' latest series of matches in the domestic 20-over competition and his paperwork came through in time to play the next three games, which start tomorrow in Timaru when they play Otago.
However, changes to Smith's personal situation and domestic cricket commitments led to him pulling out of the Wizards gig as the latest hired gun.
Wizards coach Gary Stead said he understood that Smith had been offered the captaincy of his team, Barbados, who start their season early in the new year, and had decided to accept the role.
''It is disappointing because he is a world-class player and from a marketing viewpoint he would have helped get people through the gate.
''But we will keep boxing on.''
It also means that pace bowler Mitchell Claydon, from Australia, will remain with the side for the rest of the HRV Cup season which, for Canterbury, has seven matches to run.
Despite Smith scratching, the Wizards have been bolstered by the return of Andrew Ellis, Matt Henry and Shanan Stewart.
Ellis (arm), Henry (back) and Stewart (hand) have all been rehabdhilitating from injury and will be warmly welcomed by Stead after the Wizards lost their opening three matches of the championship.
Ellis' absence has only been relatively short - just on a month - after a side strain sustained in a T20 match against Northern Districts; Henry has missed the first segment of the season as he eases back into the game after off-season back surgery, while Stewart has overcome a broken hand also from a month ago.
Stead said Ellis will play as a batsman only as he is not yet fully fit to bowl at pace, while Henry is battling a recent bout of ill health.
Henry Nicholls and Willie Lonsdale, who were in the 13-man squad for the last match against Auckland, have been omitted. Tom Latham retains the team captaincy.
Two matches will be played today, with Wellington hosting Central Districts and Auckland facing Northern Districts in Auckland.