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Test wicketkeeper BJ Watling will miss the opening round of Plunket Shield with injury.
Seven months since the last cricket season ended early, injuries have shorn Black Caps test players BJ Watling, Henry Nicholls and Ajaz Patel from the opening round of Plunket Shield.
Hamilton’s Seddon Park and Wellington’s Basin Reserve host the opening deliveries of the 2020-21 season on Monday, with some Black Caps stars making welcome appearances and others ruled out with niggles.
Watling (hip) and Patel (calf) are both sidelined from the clash of the round in Hamilton, when a star-studded Northern Districts host last year’s runnersup the Central Stags.
Sir Graham Henry and Crusaders coach Scott Robertson were flown to Hagley Cricket Oval by former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw in his helicopter.
ND, under new coach Graeme Aldridge the former New Zealand seamer, still front with six current or former internationals: Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Colin de Grandhomme, Ish Sodhi, Scott Kuggeleijn and Jeet Raval, the latter having moved from Auckland.
But they’re also missing Watling, Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Mitchell Santner and Tim Seifert, the latter four at the Indian Premier League until mid-November, then a fortnight of managed isolation. Seifert was a recent callup for the Brendon McCullum-coached Kolkata Knight Riders so will miss the first four Plunket Shield rounds with the other IPL men.
Ross Taylor returns to Hamilton in a Central Stags helmet on Monday.
In Watling and Seifert’s absences, Peter Bocock will keep wicket. One of the key leaders in the New Zealand test set-up, Watling’s injury was described as minor and he’s expected back for week two.
For the Stags, international bowlers Adam Milne (hamstring) and Ben Wheeler (knee) join Patel on the sidelines with pre-season niggles.
Their big name inclusion is Black Caps run machine Ross Taylor in the city where he lives, while George Worker, Will Young, Tom Bruce, Doug Bracewell, Seth Rance and Blair Tickner are the other internationals in a strong Stags lineup.
In the capital, test No 5 Nicholls will sit out for Canterbury with what was described as a minor calf injury.
Under new coach Peter Fulton, Canterbury still have Black Caps Tom Latham, Matt Henry and new addition Daryl Mitchell from Northern Districts.
Michael Bradley/Getty Images
Test No 5 Henry Nicholls misses the first Plunket Shield round with a calf niggle.
Defending champions Wellington Firebirds, who were on top when the final two rounds were canned in March due to Covid-19, confirmed test opener Tom Blundell would take the wicketkeeping gloves which means a likely middle order spot for him.
South African Devon Conway, now eligible for the Black Caps after topping all three runscoring charts last summer, will bat No 3 for Wellington as he pushes for an international callup.
Allrounder Jimmy Neesham is another IPL absentee, while promising batsman Finn Allen from Auckland is in line for a debut for his new team.
The final match of round one, when Auckland host Otago, starts on Tuesday with the hosts missing fast bowler Lockie Ferguson at the IPL.
AT A GLANCE
Plunket Shield round one, from 10.30am Monday:
Northern Districts v Central Stags at Seddon Park, Hamilton:
Northern: Joe Carter (captain), Henry Cooper, Jeet Raval, Colin de Grandhomme, Peter Bocock, Katene Clarke, Scott Kuggeleijn, Joe Walker, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner, James Baker.
Central: Greg Hay (captain), George Worker, Will Young, Ross Taylor, Tom Bruce, Brad Schmulian, Dane Cleaver, Doug Bracewell, Joey Field, Christian Leopard, Seth Rance, Blair Tickner, Ray Toole.
Wellington v Canterbury at Basin Reserve, Wellington:
Wellington: Michael Bracewell (captain), Rachin Ravindra, Andrew Fletcher, Devon Conway, Finn Allen, Tom Blundell, Peter Younghusband, Jamie Gibson, Logan van Beek, Ollie Newton, Iain McPeake, Hamish Bennett.
Canterbury: Cole McConchie (captain), Chad Bowes, Tom Latham, Leo Carter, Ken McClure, Daryl Mitchell, Cam Fletcher, Matt Henry, Theo van Woerkom, Edward Nuttall, Fraser Sheat, Will Williams.
* Auckland host Otago at Eden Park Outer Oval starting on Tuesday