• Free admission to watch Stags take on Canterbury in Final at McLean Park

Free admission to watch Stags take on Canterbury in Final at McLean Park

Hawke’s Bay cricket fans will enjoy free admission when Central Stags take on Canterbury in New Zealand’s Ford Trophy Grand Final at McLean Park on Tuesday.

This is the first time in 22 years that a national cricket final has been contested in Napier. The last time the Stags played a final in Napier was way back in January 2002, when the one-day competition was still known as the Shell Cup. 

It was a best-of-three finals series that season, the first match played at their home ground McLean Park (which the Stags lost) and the second and third matches played away in Christchurch. 

The Stags ended up storming home in those last two away finals to famously beat the strong Canterbury side of that era, and bring home the trophy to Hawke’s Bay. 

Some things don’t change a lot over time. Canterbury and the Central Stags having regularly met in the one-day finals across the two decades since, and the classic rivalry will reignite this Tuesday from 11am. 

For the Stags, it’s their second consecutive year heading in as top qualifier, but they lost last year’s final to Auckland in Queenstown - their only poor performance of the entire season. 

BLACKCAPS and Hawke’s Bay spinner Ajaz Patel wasn’t available for that match, but he’s the frontline spinner for Tuesday and says the Stags won’t let history repeat. 

“We always get up before games with Canterbury - it’s a classic rivalry for sure,” said Patel. 

“They’re a good side who have played some very good cricket this summer and as a team we are looking forward to that challenge - but playing at home is a benefit for us, not for them. 

“McLean Park is a ground that I love playing at, and it’s quite special to have the final in Napier.” 

The game was initially, before Cyclone Gabrielle, to have been played at the neutral venue of Queenstown in February. 

“After the cylone and all the devastation that’s happened here in Hawke’s Bay, it’s really cool to be able to play here and hopefully get a decent crowd along so that we can really bring some joy to a lot of faces,” Patel added. 

“As a professional sportsperson, you’re also an entertainer and it’s important we put on a show, put on a nice day out for people and their family and their friends.” 

Patel has already lifted this one-day trophy once with the team, “but it would be nice to stamp our mark and do it again.

 “Obviously the likes of Josh Clarkson and Tom Bruce are playing very good cricket this season and we’ll have Doug Bracewell back from the BLACKCAPS for us as well.” 

Free entry to the top quality match is a treat for the Hawke’s Bay cricket community and supportive public after a tough month. 

The event is a cyclone relief fundraiser with a collection at the gate for the Hawke’s Bay Disaster Relief Fund (EFTPOS is available). 

BLACKCAPS and Central Stags legend Ross Taylor, who played for the Stags in the early part of this season’s Ford Trophy campaign before heading to India to pay in a Master’s series, has also donated his own autographed Central Stags batting helmet which is being auctioned on TradeMe, together with a Ford Trophy playing shirt signed by all the team, with all proceeds also being donated to the Hawke’s Bay Disaster Relief Fund. 

The TradeMe auction closes at 9pm on 28 March - after the Central Stags have, all gong to plan this time, lifted the trophy. Tuesday’s match will run until around 6pm if it goes the distance so weekday workers can come in after work to see the exciting finish and trophy presented. 

To bid on Ross Taylor’s helmet, visit bit.ly/RThelmet or find further information at www.cdcricket.co.nz.