Firebirds' final hopes likely to rest with Ryder
As many as 10 balls with imports' names on them went up in the air at Cricket Wellington's Basin Reserve offices this week.
And, when they all came down, the names Cameron Borgas and Theo Doropoulos were the ones reportedly showing.
Doropoulos certainly looked a longshot to play for Wellington in today's Twenty20 semifinal against Auckland. In the words of CW chief executive Peter Clinton, Doropoulos had "done his job and left" after helping the Firebirds beat Northern Districts by nine runs on Sunday.
Borgas, too, sounded on the selection outer for today, despite having been contracted to play. However, it is understood both will be in the squad today.
Whether they actually are, remains to be seen. Coach Jamie Siddons has a bulging contacts book and plenty of bigger names have been bandied about since Sunday.
One was Aaron Finch. The Melbourne Renegades skipper will be at the Basin today, only he has been roped into playing for Auckland. Not that it matters enormously. Jesse Ryder, rather than imports, has been the star turn.
Siddons was blunt about how important Ryder's runs will be to the team today.
"If Jesse Ryder hits one straight up in the air, the gameplan changes and our chances of success drop a bit," Siddons said.
"We know what we can score without Jesse and we know what we can score with Jesse. So our targets change all the time and we know we can still win games with 150, 155 [runs] at the Basin and we know we're definitely a chance if we get 180, like we did the other day [against ND]."
The coach felt that was almost the extent to which you could plan for Twenty20 cricket. Bowling-wise, specific bowlers will bowl from specific ends and be told which lengths to bowl depending on the ferocity of the wind.
Beyond that, Siddons said "it's a bit of a lottery".
"You do your homework, make sure your players are in a good space and know their roles and then see how it goes."
Wellington and Auckland have shared the spoils this season, after each won at the other's home ground.
HOW THEY LINE UP
What: Twenty20 semifinal
Where and when: Basin Reserve, 4.30pm today
TAB odds: Wellington $1.95, Auckland $1.80
Wellington (possible): Ben Orton, Jesse Ryder, Michael Papps (c), Cameron Borgas, Luke Ronchi, Theo Doropoulos, Scott Kuggeleijn, Luke Woodcock, Mark Houghton, Jeetan Patel, Ili Tugaga, Tipene Friday
Auckland (from): Aaron Finch, Lou Vincent, Gareth Hopkins (c), Colin de Grandhomme, Craig Cachopa, Reece Young, Dean Bartlett, Donovan Grobbelaar, Dusan Hakaraia, Andre Adams, Michael Bates, Bhupinder Singh, Matt Quinn
The Dominion Post