Fast bowler adds venom to Canterbury side

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 13/03/2013
Hamish Bennett
Fairfax NZ
MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Canterbury’s Hamish Bennett is happy to be back after recovering from injury

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The last time Hamish Bennett played a home match for Canterbury, it was in pre-earthquake Christchurch on the now non-existent Village Green at the also non-existent QEII.

A horrible back injury and a few follow-up issues have kept the big quick out of the game at the domestic level since January 2011, but now he's back. He played in Canterbury's 108-run thrashing of Northern Districts in Mt Maunganui on Sunday and should feature today when his side takes on Wellington at Hagley Oval.

Sunday's big win was the first time Bennett had played alongside four of the current side.

"It's pretty good to be back on the park," the 26-year-old said. "It's been a pretty tough two years with a few up and downs."

He's remained patient and positive and is now reaping the rewards for a cautious comeback.

Bennett said he'd recovered well from his six overs on Sunday and was ready to back up today. His rejuvenation gives the Wizards attack more depth and venom, which in turn has given the side its swagger back.

After poor returns in both the Twenty20 and four-day competitions, Canterbury sit second in the 50-over competition and their three wins have all been big ones.

Before Sunday's trouncing of ND, Canterbury had beaten Otago by 106 runs and CD by 67.

They have weaved two losses with top-of-the-table Auckland into their season too, but go into today's match full of confidence.

The top three of George Worker, Brad Cachopa and Rob Nicol have all scored big hundreds, the middle order have all reached 50 at least once and with Bennett's return, the attack looks good.

Ryan McCone and Matt Henry have grown hugely in Bennett's absence and with captain Andrew Ellis, spinner Ronnie Hira and all-rounders Logan van Beek and Nicol able to chip in well, the side is travelling well.

Coach Gary Stead admitted there was more confidence in the side, but its feet remained firmly on the ground. And it needs to, against a dangerous Wellington side led by former Canterbury opener Michael Papps, enjoying arguably the best form of his life. Papps has innings of 162no, 154, 12, 82 and 129 in this year's one-day competition for 539 one-day runs at 134.75 and a strike rate of 111.

Then there's his opening partner, the sleeping batting giant of Jesse Ryder. Ryder's yet to take an attack apart in 50-over cricket this year, but is clearly due.

Canterbury have made one change from the 12 that went to Mt Maunganui. Tom Latham has returned to the Black Caps and been replaced by Lancaster Park-Woolston all-rounder Brent Findlay while Todd Astle is still out because of a finger injury.

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