Arnel boosts Knights' firepower as Firebirds rally ex Black Caps
The Northern Knights' pace stocks have been bolstered for their crucial Plunket Shield clash against the Wellington Firebirds starting tomorrow.
Veteran seamer Brent Arnel has been released from the Black Caps squad after being surplus to requirements for the first test against South Africa which started in Dunedin yesterday.
He's been joined for the four-day encounter at the Basin Reserve by young quick bowler Andrew Mathieson, who replaces seamer Brandon Hiini in the squad following the drawn match against the Otago Volts which finished at Seddon Park on Monday.
Arnel will give the competition leaders extra firepower. However, the Yahoo! NZ Knights will be minus first-choice Black Cap bowlers Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Daniel Vettori and also batsman Kane Williamson. The Knights must also manage without wicketkeeper/batsman BJ Watling, a late withdrawal from the test side with a hip injury.
Mathieson played two matches last season for the Knights and has been in sharp form this summer for the Northern Districts A side and the Hamilton team. Hiini can count himself unlucky to miss out in what was essentially a head-to-head battle with James Baker for a seamer's spot.
The former Cantabrian bowled tightly under pressure when Otago were chasing victory on Monday and he offers more with the bat in the lower order.
The hosts will field a strong side that features unwanted Black Caps Jesse Ryder, James Franklin and Andy McKay. They join a team that also includes former New Zealand internationals Jeetan Patel and Grant Elliott, and pace bowler Scott Kuggeleijn, son of former Knights player and coach Chris.
The Knights lead the competition by 17 points from the Firebirds, with three matches remaining.
The third-placed Central Stags, one point behind Wellington, host the bottom-placed Canterbury Wizards while the Auckland Aces host Otago.
AT A GLANCE
Northern Knights: Brad Wilson (captain), Joseph Yovich, James Marshall, Hamish Marshall, Daniel Flynn, Anton Devcich, Peter McGlashan, Mitchell Santner, Graeme Aldridge, Brent Arnel, James Baker, Andrew Mathieson.
Wellington Firebirds: Grant Elliott (captain), Josh Brodie, Michael Papps, Stephen Murdoch, Jesse Ryder, Michael Pollard, James Franklin, Harry Boam, Craig Cachopa, Jeetan Patel, Mark Gillespie, Scott Kuggeleijn, Andy McKay. -