Big names and big scores are on the cards when the Canterbury Wizards take on the Central Districts Stags in a domestic Twenty20 cricket match at Aorangi Oval tonight.
Following the 781 runs that were scored at the ground in a record breaking one-day game between Canterbury and Otago, another run-feast is likely, especially with big hitters Jacob Oram, Ross Taylor and Shannan Stewart playing.
The game will be missing one of the competition’s big drawcards, with former Black Cap Craig McMillan still recovering from a calf strain which has kept him on the sidelines for several games this season.
Timaru’s Hamish Bennett is likely to miss out on selection to play on his home ground for the Wizards, having been on the outer of the limited-overs squad.
Bennett said it was disappointing not to be playing regularly in limited-overs games, but he was trying to take the positives from it.
“When you have guys like Chris (Martin) and I think Shane Bond is coming back in February, it can be hard to get a spot, but I’m just trying to learn from those guys when they are around.”
McMillan said the injury was healing and he was targeting a return against CD in Nelson on Friday.
“Absolutely, it’s tough (to be on the sidelines) especially when the team’s struggling,” he said. “I do enjoy watching the guys play, but it’s frustrating when you can’t add to things on the field.
“One of the reasons I came back was because I still felt I had something to offer the team.”
The 33-year-old, who retired from international cricket in 2007, said he was disappointed to miss both games in Timaru this season, especially on such a batsman-friendly pitch.
Aorangi Oval groundsman Greg Hull said Timaru’s recent 0 wet weather had made pitch preparations “very difficult”.
“It has been hard, we haven’t had a fine since Friday.”
He said since the pitch had been under the covers for a long period, it had started to sweat.
Hull said he hoped the sunny weather yesterday would remove most of the moisture in and around the pitch and he was confident it would perform the same way it did on New Year’s Eve.
“There will still be a bit of grass on it, but hopefully we can brown that off. There was grass on it for the last game, but the ball didn’t move around much.”
The Wizards return to Timaru in desperate need of a win as they languish at the bottom of the Twenty20 table, having won only their opening game against the Auckland Aces
The Stags on the other hand are at the top of the ladder, having won three of their four games, suffering their first loss against the Aces in the previous round.
McMillan said confidence in the red and black camp was still high. “A few of the guys are looking forward to getting back there, they know what to expect and hopefully we can find form.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position where we are going to have to win our next six games which is a tough ask, but it can bring out the best in you.”
McMillan said Central Districts’ long batting line-up was something they had to be wary of.
“They bat long in to their order and with guys like (Jacob) Oram, (Ross) Taylor and (Graeme) Napier, they can take the game away from you.”
South Canterbury teenager Jamie Trezise will be the Wizards’ 13th man for tonight’s match.
The game starts at 5pm.