Canterbury Wizards' batting needs attention
It will take few guesses to know what the Canterbury cricket team will be working on this week.
Their batting again let them down in their Plunket Shield match with Central Districts in Napier and they lost by 81 runs.
They now sit in last place. Set 332 to beat the table toppers on a deck captain Peter Fulton last week said "traditionally gets easier to bat on throughout", Canterbury had reason to be confident after an impressive day three on Saturday.
They'd pulled CD back and dismissed them for 320 despite Ross Taylor making a half century in his comeback game and CD skipper Kieran Noema-Barnett scoring 90.
Resuming yesterday at 88-1, Canterbury were in the box seat, but regular wickets meant another CD win was the only likely outcome.
Shanan Stewart was dismissed in the first over of the day by Zimbabwe swing bowler Kyle Jarvis while Fulton went soon after for 59, adding only nine to his overnight score.
There were plenty of starts from the rest, but disappointingly no-one else made 40 and that was never going to be good enough to reach 332.
CD spinner Ajaz Patel had a field-day, taking 6-57 from 26 overs while spin accounted for two more wickets, one each to Jeet Raval and Tarun Nethula.
Ryan McCone, Canterbury's best in this game with seven wickets, said his side had probably given Patel too much respect. Patel extracted plenty of turn and bounce out of the normally placid McLean Park pitch, but Canterbury should have been more aggressive and put the 24-year-old under pressure, McCone said.
"We've had a talk about it and I think we just were a bit too reluctant to attack him," he said.
"For a few of our guys that's the first time we've really played on a genuine fourth day wicket that takes turn like that and maybe we were a bit unsure of the best way to play him."
Canterbury have little time to work on their batting, they return to Christchurch today before almost immediately heading back to the North Island to take on fellow strugglers Wellington.
While Canterbury's confidence may be low, Wellington's must be rock-bottom.
They were hammered by an innings and 240 runs by Otago inside of three days and sit just one place ahead of Canterbury.
McCone will again lead the bowling line-up - a job the 25-year-old left armer is growing into well. With six quick bowling options on the injured list, McCone has stepped up, is bowling sharp and picking up valuable wickets.
The scalp of Ross Taylor for four in CD's first innings was an obvious highlight.
Canterbury are also likely to be without Brad Cachopa for the Wellington game as he still recovers from a shoulder injury.
In the other match, Auckland too were thumped. They lost to Northern Districts by an innings and 90 runs in Hamilton.