Pride is all that’s left on the line when the Wellington Firebirds take-on the Canterbury Kings at Hagley Park tomorrow.
The Firebirds’ finals hopes came to an end after an 11-run loss to the Central Stags at the Basin Reserve last Friday, meaning the Stags plus the Knights and the Aces will progress to the finals stage next weekend.
Firebirds captain Hamish Bennett said his side were disappointed not to be progressing to the finals but were looking forward to the freedom that comes with a dead-rubber contest.
“Spirits are still high at training and the guys know that they can go out on Saturday and express themselves with no consequences, so we’re looking forward to seeing how they perform under less pressure,” he said.
“We probably took the foot off the gas for one or two overs in a number of those close matches that we came out on the wrong side of and you can’t afford to do that at T20 level.
“We’ve had some really close matches that could have gone either way and we know that if one or two things had gone our way in those matches we would probably be preparing for a finals match, so we’re trying to focus on the positives.”
Firebirds head coach Bruce Edgar makes just one change to his squad with Lauchie Johns, one of the Wellington’s Ford Trophy final heroes, coming in for Troy Johnson.
Rachin Ravindra keeps his place despite being called in to the New Zealand XI squad to face Bangladesh on Sunday and veteran Luke Woodcock will be looking to build on his excellent performance with the bat last time out.
Surprisingly, neither the competition’s highest run scorer or leading wicket-taker will be taking part in the finals, but Devon Conway and Kyle Jamieson will face-off tomorrow in what will be a highlight of the match.
Conway has scored 352 runs this campaign, averaging 44, and Jamieson has taken 19 wickets with best figures of six for seven, so it is a contest that is likely to decide the outcome of the match.
The Firebirds have won three out of the last four matches between the two sides, including their last match-up at the Basin Reserve where they came out convincing winners by 63 runs.
Canterbury come in to the match off the back of a 30-run win over the Otago Volts last weekend and will be looking to win back-to-back home matches for the first time since December 2017.
Play begins at 4.00pm at Hagley Oval in Christchurch. Entry is $15 for adults and $5 for children.
Wellington Firebirds | Burger King Super Smash | Round Ten v Canterbury Kings
Hamish Bennett (c)
Tom Blundell (wk)
Logan van Beek