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Central Stags call on two uncapped players

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Either New Zealand Under 19 World Cup star Joey Field or Wairarapa’s Stefan Hook-Sporry will receive Central Districts first-class cap number 299 at the Basin Reserve this Sunday morning, both men named in the Central Stags’ round-five Plunket Shield squad to play the Wellington Firebirds.

A hamstring injury to strike bowler Seth Rance whilst fielding on the third day of a thrilling eight-wicket win against Northern Districts earlier this week has created a vacancy in the pace attack as the Stags continue their quest to become the first team since 1940 to win a hat-trick of New Zealand first-class titles.

Uncapped Hawke’s Bay youngster Field, who bowls right-arm pace, was named for the first time in the Stags’ first-round Plunket Shield squad in October, but ultimately carried the drinks for the side in Auckland as 12th man. Meanwhile it’s Hook-Sporry’s first call-up into the Plunket Shield squad since February 2017, a match in which the Masterton-born right-armer also served as 12th man.

Hook-Sporry, 24, claimed a five-wicket bag earlier this week for Central Districts A against a strong Auckland A contingent in a three-day match at Pukekura Park.

CDCA Manager, High Performance Lance Hamilton commented, "Stefan has been a strong performer this season, initially for Wairarapa in the Furlong Cup where he took 16 wickets at an average of 15 - and, more recently, in his two Central Districts A performances where he has been consistently hitting good areas and taking regular wickets."

The Stags head into the top-of-the-table four-day clash holding a narrow one-point lead, having caught and usurped former leaders the Firebirds in the latest round.

Halfway through the 2019/20 championship defence, a maximum of 80 points now remain on the table from the last four rounds, the Stags embarking on the first of two away matches - they will head to Dunedin after the Basin Reserve - before returning for the final two crunch rounds of the summer at their happy home hunting ground of McLean Park later in March.

Fresh of an outstanding first Plunket Shield double century as well as a Central Stags record nine dismissals in a first-class match against Northern Districts, wicketkeeper-batsman Dane Cleaver will head to the Basin with a first-class season average of 62.70 from 10 innings - including two big centuries (his career-best 201 for the Stags and 196 for New Zealand A against India A just a fortnight earlier) as well as two half centuries and 29 dismissals (including seven for New Zealand A this summer).

Cleaver will also head into the fifth round closing in on 150 first-class dismissals as a wicketkeeper, having reached 143 with his career-best match effort on both fronts in Napier. Eleven of those 143 dismissals have been for New Zealand A in the past two seasons, with the balance for the Central Stags.

Young Stags allrounder Willem Ludick, 22, meanwhile heads to the Basin as the Plunket Shield’s equal top wicket-taker. Ludick now has 17 wickets for the summer at an average of just 17.00, and is poised to overtake Neil Wagner (equal on 17 wickets at a higher average of 24.11) with the latter on BLACKCAPS duties against India.

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