The Wellington Firebirds will be out to get their Burger King Super Smash campaign back on track when they travel North for a New Year’s Eve showdown with the Central Stags at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth tomorrow.
The Firebirds come into the game off the back off a tight one run loss to the Otago Volts at the Basin Reserve on Friday and will be looking to rediscover some of their best form leading into a busy January period.
Firebirds head coach Bruce Edgar has selected 28-year-old Logan van Beek in his squad for the first time since their Plunket Shield opener against Auckland at the Basin Reserve in October.
Van Beek was absent from the Firebirds successful Ford Trophy campaign – away with the New Zealand A squad for their tour of the UAE – where he picked up a shoulder injury which has seen him miss the opening three rounds of the Burger King Super Smash.
Van Beek said he was looking forward to the opportunity to represent Wellington and said immersing himself back amongst the strong Firebirds culture would be the key to a successful return.
“When you’re away from the team for a long period of time, it’s hard to get yourself back in to the feeling and the culture of the squad, so one thing I’ve tried to do consciously is be around the guys as much as possible and just try to be in and around it and feel like I’m a part of it and getting the same feelings that the other guys are getting.”
Van Beek’s return is one of three changes coach Edgar has made to his side.
Ben Sears and Troy Johnson also return to the squad after missing out against Otago and spinner Peter Younghusband drops back out to accommodate an extra pace bowler.
The Firebirds will be without star allrounder Jimmy Neesham for at least the next three rounds of the Super Smash who has been selected in the BLACKCAPS squad for the one-day series with Sri Lanka starting on January 3.
The Central Stags come in to the match off the back of a five-wicket loss to the Auckland Aces at Pukekura Park yesterday.
Last year’s Super Smash finalists have won their last two T20 matches against Wellington and the Firebirds will know a win tomorrow is crucial in keeping their Super Smash hopes alive.
Defending women’s T20 champions the Wellington Blaze will be looking to all but guarantee themselves a spot in the Super Smash final when they take-on the Central Hinds in the other match of the New Year’s Eve double-header.
The Blaze were handed just their second loss of the campaign by the Otago Sparks at the Basin Reserve on Friday but know a win tomorrow will put them in prime position to be in the competition final on January 20.
Blaze head coach Christie van Dyk makes just one change to the team that lost at the Basin Reserve on Friday – Beth Molony drops out of the 12.
WHITE FERNS star Amelia Kerr has led the way for the Blaze with the ball, taking 3/10 in their 26-run win over the Northern Spirit and 4/21 in their loss to the Sparks last time out.
The 18-year-old is equally handy with the bat and will be eager to post a big score batting at three to help her side make it a positive end to 2019.
The Central Hinds currently sit bottom of the Super Smash ladder, still without a win, and come in to this one of the back off a four-wicket loss to the Auckland Hearts on Friday.
The Blaze’s clash with the Hinds begins at 12.45pm from Pukekura Park, before the Firebirds face the Stags at 4.00pm. Entry is $15 for adults and $5 for children.
Wellington Blaze | Burger King Super Smash | Round Nine v Central Hinds
Liz Perry (c)
Jess McFadyen (wk)
Wellington Firebirds | Burger King Super Smash | Round Four v Central Stags
Hamish Bennett (c)
Tom Blundell (wk)
Logan van Beek