The Central Districts Stags hope the picturesque Pukekura Park inspires them to a much-needed national Twenty20 victory this afternoon.
The Devon Hotel Stags have failed to fire in the shortest version of the game so far this season, losing their three matches to sit bottom of the table with just two points from a rained out game.
The Stags have found New Plymouth's Pukekura Park a happy hunting ground, winning the Twenty20 title in 2007-08 and 2009-10 and the one-day championship in 2011-12.
First season coach Heinrich Malan said yesterday his squad is confident they can turn the tide, make use of their home ground advantage and set the terraces rocking today.
''It's something that has been mentioned more than once in the last couple of days - the relationship we have with Pukekura Park and the way we've played here.
''The boys are confident we can turn things around,'' the 32-year-old Pretorian said.
He said knowing the conditions at Pukekura Park and the dimensions of the ground was a big plus for the Stags playing at home.
''There's an aura around the ground for us and we're hoping it plays its part over the next week that we're here.''
Today's match against the Aces is the first of four rounds of the national Twenty20 competition that the Stags are scheduled to play at the park in the next week.
Milan wasn't settling on a playing 11 until he had had the chance to see the pitch which was under covers for most of yesterday with the unsettled weather in the region.
Available for selection are former internationals Jamie How, Kruger Van Wyk and Jacob Oram, while English imports Peter Trego and Josh Cobb are raring to go,'' he said.
Taranaki batsman William Young has been one of the in-form batsmen for the Stags this season.
Malan is more than satisfied with the progress that Young has shown in what is only his second full season with the major association.
''He got a couple of good starts last season obviously, and since then he's kicked on nicely,'' Malan said.
''He's working hard and looking to make that top order berth, that Mathew Sinclair has left, his own.
''I have said I will give some young guys an opportunity and William has taken his like a duck to water. He's now got to get comfortable and make that his role [scoring runs] every time he goes out to help get us across the line. All the signs are there, the work ethic, the attitude, the commitment.''
Milan admitted the Stags disappointing season was frustrating.
''The rain has been following us [around] and we just haven't kicked into gear,'' he said.
Milan said losing players like Sinclair (retired) and Jeet Raval (now with the Aces) from last season hasn't helped matters.
''It's always going to be a challenge for the young guys in the squad, but they'll gain in confidence by getting across the line. You can't buy that.
''It's frustrating because we train hard and do all the right things in our preparation, but it's just going to take sometime for the young guns to really feel at home and know their roles.
''We just need one or two winning performances then take it to the next level.''
The Aces have made a useful start to the Twenty20 competition and sit fourth with eight points. The Aces have bagged wins over Wellington Firebirds and more recently the Canterbury Wiards.
DEVON HOTEL STAGS: from Jamie How, Peter Trego, Josh Cobb, Carl Cachopa, Keirin Noema Barnett (capt), Kruger Van Wyk, William Young, Jacob Oram, Bevan Small, Marty Kain, Tarun Nethula, Doug Bracewell, Ben Wheeler. Coach: Heinrick Malan, assistant Lance Hamilton.
AUCKLAND ACES: from Anaru Kitchen, Jeet Raval, Craig Cachopa, Colin de Grandhomme, Gareth Hopkins, Donavan Grobbelaar, JK Fuller, Bruce Martin, Michael Bates, Matt Quinn, Luke Wright. Coach:Matt Horne, asssitant Andre Adams
- Taranaki Daily News
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