Unbeaten Knights hail returning test heroes

ALL ROUND PERFORMANCE: Tim Southee blasted 156 off 130 balls and then took four wickets for Northern Districts on day one against Wellington.
ALL ROUND PERFORMANCE: Tim Southee blasted 156 off 130 balls and then took four wickets for Northern Districts on day one against Wellington.

The debatable maxim "never change a winning side" gets a theory test tonight when the Northern Knights chase their fourth successive HRV Cup victory.

They take on the Otago Volts at Hamilton's Seddon Park with the inclusion of three Black Caps.

Tim Southee, Kane Williamson and Daniel Flynn are all bound to start for the Twenty20 competition leaders, who will be without Corey Anderson and Trent Boult, with that duo named in the New Zealand T20 squad for South Africa.

Southee will no doubt spearhead the SkyCity Knights' bowling line-up, with special responsibility on bowling in the dying stages of Otago's innings, while coach Grant Bradburn juggles with where to place Williamson and Flynn in a batting order which thumped 186 for 5 off 20 overs in their latest win over the Canterbury Wizards a fortnight ago.

"It's a good headache situation - there's a number of different combinations we could utilise but that's a good problem to have," Bradburn said.

"We've had a line-up that's been successful but we certainly welcome back the Black Caps and what they have to offer. We only have them for one Twenty20 match, so we want to give them every opportunity."

Flynn is likely to be used in the top three, along with Brad Wilson and Anton Devcich, while Williamson may slot in behind Steven Croft and skipper Scott Styris in a stacked middle order, that could see test wicketkeeper B J Watling and former international batsman James Marshall at seven and eight.

Southee has developed a vaunted yorker that he bowls regularly in the latter stages and Bradburn was keen to take advantage.

"Death bowling is a much-required skill in this format and Tim provides us with that expert skill," Bradburn said.

"He's proven his ability at it at an international level and is really a master of it, so we'll be looking to feed off him and utilise that skill and his knowledge."

Bradburn said while his side have made the ideal start to a staggered HRV Cup campaign, based to date around televised Friday night matches, they didn't want to get caught out looking too far ahead in a tournament they have yet to win.

"Four wins from four - that would be really nice, but we've already spoken a lot on the process and not the outcome.

"We've had some big gaps in our Twenty20 programme as well, so it actually has been difficult to think that we're on a momentum roll. It's just a good platform at the moment.

"Otago may be missing a few of their pillars but they've still got the firepower needed to win a game, we're very wary of that."

The Volts are hoping to call on experienced Dutch international Ryan ten Doeschate tonight, after he arrived in New Zealand yesterday.

The 32-year-old allrounder had a big impact on the competition for Canterbury and has vast experience at county level in England and in other Twenty20 competitions worldwide.

The Volts will be without new Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, regular skipper and wicketkeeper Derek de Boorder and new international Jimmy Neesham.

Northern Knights: Scott Styris (captain), Brad Wilson, Anton Devcich, Daniel Flynn, Kane Williamson, Steven Croft, BJ Watling, James Marshall, Bradley Scott, Tim Southee, Graeme Aldridge, Brent Arnel. Otago Volts: Aaron Redmond, Hamish Rutherford, Ryan ten Doeschate, Neil Broom, Michael Bracewell, Sam Wells (captain), Mark Craig, Ian Butler, Neil Wagner, Nick Beard, Jacob Duffy, Iain Robertson, James Fuller.

Waikato Times