Uncapped Hastings player named in Central Stags squad
A Hastings wicketkeeper-batsman has been named in the Central Stags squad as the team prepares for the start of the first-class cricket season this weekend.
Bayley Wiggins has been named in the Plunket Shield squad by new coach Rob Walter and will have a potential first-class debut tomorrow when the team begins its championship campaign away at Hagley Oval, in a four-day tussle with defending champions Canterbury.
While 23-year-old Wiggins is uncapped in the first-class arena, Walter says he brings with him a hearty List A average of 47.87, including a century, from nine Ford Trophy appearances, as well as five T20 caps since his 2018/19 debut when he was first called up to keep wicket in Dane Cleaver’s absence.
“Bayley made an immediate impact in the shorter format of the game and we hope he can find his feet in similar fashion if he makes the starting XI," he says.
“Like the rest of the group, he has worked incredibly hard in the lead-up to the season, and I have no doubt this will stand him in good stead when his opportunity arrives.”
Stags captain Greg Hay returns to steer a red-ball thirteen that offers two left-arm pace options in Ray Toole and Ben Wheeler, and left-arm spinner Jayden Lennox who gains an opportunity in the absence of Test spinner Ajaz Patel.
The Stags have headed to Christchurch without the services of both Patel and fellow BLACKCAP Ross Taylor due to Alert Level restrictions in Auckland and Hamilton where the pair is respectively based with their families.
The squad is also without Test batsman Will Young (injured wrist) and senior opening paceman Seth Rance (ankle), but Walter is confident in the depth in the squad to do the job in Canterbury.
“We have a nice mix of senior experienced players and younger players who are looking to make their mark in the first-class arena, and we’ve had a really good preseason,” said Walter.
The team has been training on preseason grass wickets, including a week in the covered marquee at Mount Maunganui’s Bay Oval last month.
“We really have done as much as we could on the training ground to prepare, so it’s now time to transfer that hard work into the competitive space.
“I think the boys are just really excited to get out there and compete — and there’s no better way to start the campaign than against the reigning champions. Canterbury is a quality outfit, and will no doubt provide a significant challenge.
“As head coach, I am obviously hoping that our lads are rewarded for their hard work and dedication.”
Meanwhile, the new season sees wily Stags veteran Hay on the cusp of chalking up his 6000th first-class run while Tom Bruce is set to play his 50th first-class match in the green baggy Stags cap if selected in the playing XI in Christchurch.
A milestone looms also for Blair Tickner who sits on 148 first-class career wickets after his five-wicket bag in the last game last season — which was against Canterbury, tomorrow’s opponent.
The match is one of two first-round games this weekend, the Wellington Firebirds meanwhile hosting the Otago Volts in Wellington.
The Auckland Aces and Northern Districts are making a delayed start to the season due to Alert Level restrictions.
The Stags are presently scheduled to play their first home match at Nelson’s Saxton Oval in Round Three from 7 November, against the Auckland Aces.
Photo: Central Districts Cricket Association.
2021/22 PLUNKET SHIELD | Round One
CANTERBURY v CENTRAL STAGS
Hagley Oval, Christchurch
Saturday, October 23 (10.30am) - Tuesday, October 26.
Greg Hay (c) — Nelson
Doug Bracewell — Hawke’s Bay
Tom Bruce — Taranaki
Josh Clarkson — NelsonDane Cleaver (w) — Manawatū
Joey Field — Hawke’s Bay
Jayden Lennox — Hawke’s Bay
Brad Schmulian — Hawke’s Bay
Ben Smith — Whanganui
Ray Toole — Manawatū
Blair Tickner — Hawke’s Bay
Ben Wheeler — Marlborough
Bayley Wiggins — Hawke’s Bay — potential first-class debut
Coach — Rob Walter — CDCA debut match