Chance for Hira to impress in first class cricket

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2013
Ronnie Hira
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax NZ
BACK IN WHITE: Ronnie Hira is set to play first class cricket for the first time in five years this week.

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Ronnie Hira is poised to take the field in cricketing whites after a first-class exile of five years.

The 26-year-old Black Caps spinner was named in a Canterbury side earlier this season, only to be substituted by Todd Astle returning from international duty.

Hira did not bat or bowl in that match but coach Gary Stead said he was almost certain to get a run when Canterbury take on Wellington at the Basin Reserve from today.

Stead named three spinners in his 12 to play Wellington, meaning off-spinner Tim Johnston would be the logical choice for 12th man.

"Or we could leave out a batsman and use our all-rounders a bit more," Stead said.

That is a possibility but with a batting lineup desperate for runs, and all-rounder Andrew Ellis unavailable, leaving a batsman out seems an odd move.

Hira deserved a chance, Stead said.

"We know what he can do in the shorter forms and we're very happy with that. We think it's time he got a chance to prove what he can do in the longer form of the game."

Hira is understood to be fizzing about the opportunity.

A New Zealand Cricket spokesperson said on the trip home from South Africa, Hira "wouldn't shut up" about wanting to prove himself in first-class cricket.

When he moved to Canterbury from Auckland at the start of the season, Hira told The Press he was frustrated at being typecast as a limited-overs specialist and wanted a chance to impress.

Now he gets it, against Jesse Ryder's Wellington on the usually batting-friendly Basin Reserve.

Hira also adds a bit more with the bat and will likely sit in the middle to lower order with Lancaster Park-Woolston team-mate Brent Findlay.

Findlay was included in the squad for the Wizards' last game, an 81-run loss to Central Districts, but was 12th man. It's been seven years since he played first-class cricket but Stead said the 27-year-old would play.

"I think he'll probably play, especially as we've only got two seamers," Stead said.

New Zealand Cricket made Ellis, who will captain the New Zealand XI in two Twenty20 matches against England next week, unavailable because of a potential to be over-used at the bowling crease.

Tom Latham will play the first three days of this game before joining Ellis, and Canterbury seamer Matt Henry, in Whangarei.

Canterbury A and Oxford wicketkeeper David Fulton, Peter Fulton's younger brother, will join the Wizards for the final day of the match against Wellington as Latham's replacement.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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