The first thing Canterbury cricket coach Gary Stead does this morning will be to cast an eye toward the sky.
Weather has wreaked havoc with the first half of the Wizards' domestic Twenty20 campaign, with three of their five scheduled matches washed out.
Canterbury haven't helped themselves by losing the two matches they did play, which all adds up to must-win territory for the remaining five matches of the competition, starting today against Northern Districts at Mt Maunganui.
Chances are the Wizards will have to win all five to make the top-three, with Otago, ND and Wellington (all 16 points) having opened up a sizeable gap. A win is worth four points.
"The weather is good which is incredible," an almost disbelieving Stead said from Tauranga yesterday. "I'm not going to predict what it's going to be like tomorrow given our run at the moment, but I think the forecast looks good.
"We obviously haven't played a lot of Twenty20 cricket so it's going to be good just to get out there. I know everyone's excited about that prospect."
Stead has predictably named an unchanged 12 from that which travelled to Wellington for last Friday's match, which was washed out.
Canterbury have essentially been confined to the nets the past week, with two warmup matches abandoned, but Stead said they were "as ready as we can be" for their run of must-win fixtures.
Meanwhile, the Knights have been bolstered by the inclusion of test star Trent Boult.
The left-arm swing bowler hasn't been wanted by the national side for their one-day series against the Windies and comes into the Northern side that defeated Central Districts in Nelson last week to replace Australian import Chris Tremain.
Today's hosts share top spot on the table with Otago and Wellington, who finished on the right side of yesterday's rain-affected six-over slogfest against Central Districts in New Plymouth.
Wellington slaughtered 88-3 from their allotted 36 balls and restricted CD to 59-4 to win by 29 runs.
HOW THEY LINE UP
Northern Districts (from): Daniel Flynn, Graeme Aldridge, Jono Boult, Trent Boult, Anton Devcich, Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, Ish Sodhi, Scott Styris, Anurag Verma, BJ Watling, Brad Wilson. Canterbury (from): George Worker, Rob Nicol, Peter Fulton, Dean Brownlie, Tom Latham, Brad Cachopa, Andrew Ellis, Brendon Diamanti, Ronnie Hira, Logan van Beek, Matt Henry, Hamish Bennett. POINTS: Otago 16, Northern Districts 16, Wellington 16, Auckland 12, Canterbury 6, Central Districts 2.
- © Fairfax NZ News