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Leopard returns for Stags

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

In his home city of Napier, 21-year-old Hawke’s Bay allrounder Christian Leopard has stepped back into the Central Stags’ Burger King Super Smash squad just in time for the exciting reveal of a new-look McLean Park.

With its new drop-in pitch and renovated outfield, McLean Park is ready to host the first of three Burger King Super Smash matches under lights and three One-Day Internationals in a bumper summer of white-ball cricket for Hawke’s Bay - starting at 7.10pm this Thursday evening when the Central Stags host the Otago Volts.

Coincidentally the Volts are the same opponent the Stags faced - and defeated - in a last-over thriller the last time a domestic T20 was played at the ground, back in December 2016. That 2016 match also happened to be the Twenty20 debut of another local Hawke’s Bay rep, Blair Tickner. Last summer, paceman Tickner was crowned the Stags’ Twenty20 Player of the Year after having finished the country’s top wicket-taker - in just his second summer in the shortest format.

Set to lead the pace attack with Ben Wheeler, Tickner has picked up a three-for this season already, in the Stags’ opening-round win against the Knights in Mount Maunganui. Now the big right-armer is itching to help his team make further headway on what’s predicted to be a perfect, balmy evening at the stadium cooling off after a 30 degree scorcher of a day.

Four rounds in, the Stags remain the only side to have beaten the defending champions - yet despite having brushed aside the competition’s early leaders, two losses at Pukekura Park and an Otago washout in the subsequent fortnight has left the Stags hovering in uncharacteristic fifth spot on the Burger King Super Smash table.

Tomorrow’s game presents a good opportunity to claw back some of that lost ground, with the Volts - currently second-equal on points with the Firebirds - going in just four points ahead of them Stags, and entering tomorrow evening’s showdown without their injured star Neil Broom.

The Stags have named a strong and balanced squad despite losing BLACKCAPS Seth Rance and Doug Bracewell (both on international T20 duty in Auckland this Friday), but players on both sides will be delighted simply to get on the park after Sunday’s frustrating washout in Dunedin saw them take just two points each without a ball bowled.

Tomorrow evening’s T20 will be the public’s first chance this summer to see BLACKCAPS spinner Ajaz Patel turning out for the Stags, in a well-balanced squad that also features recent BLACKCAPS Ben Wheeler, George Worker, captain Tom Bruce, and uncapped Test squad reserve Will Young.

Gates open at 6PM with tickets just $15 for adults, $5 for juniors and $30 family passes on offer for two adults + three children 14 or under.

BURGER KING SUPER SMASH

CENTRAL STAGS v OTAGO VOLTS

McLEAN PARK | NAPIER

7PM - Thursday, 10 January 2019

Tom Bruce (c) - Taranaki

Josh Clarkson - Nelson

Dane Cleaver (w) - Manawatū

Dean Foxcroft - Hawke’s Bay

Christian Leopard - Hawke’s Bay

Willem Ludick- Nelson

Kieran Noema-Barnett - Hawke’s Bay

Ajaz Patel - Hawke’s Bay

Blair Tickner - Hawke’s Bay

Ben Wheeler - Marlborough

George Worker - Manawatū

Will Young - Taranaki

Head Coach - Heinrich Malan

Livescoring, tickets: visit nzc.nz

Twitter updates: @CentralStags

Instagram updates: @CentralStags

Official hashtags: #StagsvVolts #BKSuperSmash #LoveTheStags

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