Wellington Firebirds batsmen need to fire up

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 19/03/2014

Relevant offers

Cricket

Kane Williamson climbs ODI batsman rankings Steve Smith faces prospect of one-match ban for slow over-rate Shahid Afridi to retire from ODIs after Cricket World Cup Michael Hussey and Jacques Kallis lead Sydney Thunder to thrilling Big Bash win Canterbury batsmen let side down in Plunket Shield loss to Otago Hamish Rutherford retains opening role for Boxing Day test Nasty bug just adds to the pain for Wellington Firebirds Black Caps all-rounder Jimmy Neesham on World Cup trial in tests Wickets tumble on day one of Sri Lankan warm-up match World class Northern Districts bowlers destroy Wellington

Spin is in at the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh and also at Hamilton's Seddon Park for today's crunch match for Wellington in the national one-day competition.

The fifth-placed Firebirds have three 50-over matches remaining to revive their flatlining season, starting against frontrunners Northern Districts on their beloved home strip.

The sluggish, turning surface more akin to the subcontinent was a key weapon for the Knights in their T20 title, and Firebirds coach Jamie Siddons expects his batsmen to negotiate plenty of spin from test legspinner Ish Sodhi, offie Jono Boult and left-armer Mitchell Santner.

''The last wicket turned a lot and I don't expect anything different. They've got two or three good spinners. We've got 20 overs of spin [from Jeetan Patel and Luke Woodcock] but they've probably got 30 of it,'' Siddons said.

Sunday's washout in Dunedin was another bump in Wellington's frustrating summer, which suffered rain interference and, more recently, two dire batting performances in Palmerston North and Wellington, the latter against today's opponents Northern.

At least the two points for the washout means the Firebirds remain in contention for the top-four playoffs, two behind fourth-placed Central Districts who are proving equally hard to follow.

''We've just got to put it all together, which has been the story of our year. We just lacked the consistency in everything,'' Siddons said.

''This one's really crucial. We've got to play good cricket otherwise there's no point being in the comp. It'd be nice to take some momentum into the final two games [both at home against CD and Auckland].''

Siddons has named an unchanged 12, with captain James Franklin having recovered from his back spasms. If the pitch is as dry and spin-friendly as expected, Siddons is tempted to stack Firebird's batting which means paceman Andy McKay could miss out.

The Knights are without five Black Caps in Bangladesh and don't look much on paper but have won four straight and are in the box seat to remain at home for the playoff series.

Test gloveman Watling is out with a hamstring strain, giving Northland's Rory Christopherson a one-day debut.

Wellington's all-international bowling attack will back themselves to knock over Northern's line-up but the big question is around the Firebirds' batting which has fired only once, in a two-run victory over Otago.

Test legspinner Sodhi and Boult put the brakes on Wellington's batsmen last week after a top order collapse, making it vital for the top-three of Stephen Murdoch, Michael Papps and Grant Elliott to set a solid platform.

Ad Feedback

In other round six matches, bottom-placed Otago host Auckland in Invercargill and the Stags host Canterbury in New Plymouth. Central are again without paceman Bevan Small (groin). Roald Badenhorst has been recalled.

- Fairfax Media

Special offers
Opinion poll

Should bouncers be banned from cricket?

Yes - they're too dangerous

Neutral - it is what it is

No - it's just bad luck when it goes wrong

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content