Canterbury bolster batting for Aces challenge
The Canterbury Wizards have conjured up batting firepower and will be near full strength for tonight's domestic Twenty20 clash with Auckland.
Tom Latham and Dean Brownlie, both unwanted by the New Zealand selectors for the test squad come back into the side, while Andrew Ellis and Rob Nicol have returned from Sri Lanka.
Usual skipper Peter Fulton is the only Canterbury player in the test squad though both Shanan Stewart (elbow) and Simon Keen (shoulder) are unavailable for the Wizards through injury.
Ellis will lead the side in Fulton's absence and said he expected Latham and Brownlie to do well.
"I know they're probably both itching to get as much cricket as possible," he said.
"Tommy's sort of been on the bench a little bit the last couple of months, but he did well when he got a chance in Sri Lanka.
"I think he'll enjoy being an important member of our side and I think they'll both enjoy being back in the Canterbury team.
"As for Dean, I've been told though he's not scoring big, big scores he's hitting it fantastic."
George Worker will open for the Wizards alongside Nicol ahead of Brownlie and Latham.
While the Wizards have a strong looking batting lineup, the Aces bowling side looks equally impressive.
They welcome back Mitchell McClenaghan and Kyle Mills from the New Zealand limited overs side and they already have Bruce Martin, Michael Bates and Colin de Grandhomme who all have international experience with New Zealand.
Add hired gun, T20 specialist Luke Wright and Auckland look a tough nut to crack.
Stewart and Keen are expected to only miss a short amount of cricket, according to coach Gary Stead.
Stewart injured his elbow diving for a ball in last week's Plunket Shield loss to Otago and will play club cricket tomorrow for Canterbury Country against the Canterbury under-20 side.
AT A GLANCE
Wizards: Andrew Ellis (c), Todd Astle, Hamish Bennett, Dean Brownlie, Brad Cachopa, Matt Henry, Ronnie Hira, Tom Latham, Cole McConchie, Rob Nicol, Logan van Beek, George Worker.
Aces: Gareth Hopkins (c), Michael Bates, Craig Cachopa, Colin de Grandhomme, Donovan Grobbelaar, Martin Guptill, Anaru Kitchen, Bruce Martin, Mitchell McClenaghan, Kyle Mills, Colin Munro, Luke Wright.