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Bevan Small Returns To Plunket Shield Squad For First Time In Five Years

After a lengthy lay-off for two knee surgeries, Central Stags allrounder Bevan Small could be playing his first first-class match in five years in Rangiora tomorrow, when the Stags will begin their key seventh-round match with current Plunket Shield leader Canterbury.

A 20-cap veteran of the Plunket Shield, Small has already made his Stags T20 comeback in the Dream11 Super Smash this summer, but his most recent first-class appearance was at the Cello Basin Reserve in March 2018.

That was one to remember, a remarkable match in which he batted under pressure in the last session to salvage a draw. From nine in the order, Small batted in the lengthening shadows, surrounded by a net of close fielders, with last man and debutant Felix Murray for 68 minutes that evening, as they successfully defended the last wicket against a deeply frustrated Firebirds attack.

The Stags are fresh off another remarkable first-class fight, in which captain Greg Hay (150), the prolific Tom Bruce (161) and Doug Bracewell (50 off 33 balls) combined to produce one of Central’s three all-time highest fourth innings totals - giving their side a shot at victory in a match that had seemed Northern’s for the taking in Mt Maunganui.

Northern Districts ultimately claimed the win, but the determined performance in their first game in a month lifted the Central Stags players ahead of tomorrow’s rematch with Canterbury - a team they held to a draw in the first round of the season, in Nelson.

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Manawatu’s Small, youthful Hawke’s Bay allrounder Will Clark and BLACKCAP Will Young (to be released today from the Dulux Test match in Christchurch in order to play the match) come in for Bracewell (called into the BLACKCAPS' Test squad for Wellington), Jayden Lennox and Curtis Heaphy for the four-dayer at Mainpower Oval.

Canterbury holds a 20-point lead over the field in what will be their penultimate round, with a maximum of 20 points available to a team in each of the eight rounds. The Stags have dropped down to fourth on the table, on 49 points, but have a match in hand due to effects of Cyclone Gabrielle on their fifth round match in Napier, which was called off in advance.

Free livestreaming and livescores will be available from Rangiora at www.cdcricket.co.nz from 10.30am tomorrow, with the toss at 10am on Monday.

POINTS TABLE

2022/23 PLUNKET SHIELD

Round Seven*

CANTERBURY v CENTRAL STAGS

Mainpower Oval, Rangiora

10.30am • Monday 13 to Thursday 16 March 2023

* Round 5 (unplayed) arrangements to be confirmed

CENTRAL STAGS SQUAD

Greg Hay (c) — Nelson

Tom Bruce — Taranaki

Will Clark — Hawke’s Bay

Josh Clarkson — Nelson

Dane Cleaver (w) — Manawatu

Ajaz Patel — Hawke’s Bay

Brett Randell

Brad Schmulian — Hawke’s Bay

Bevan Small — Manawatu

Ben Smith — Whanganui

Ray Toole — Manawatu

Will Young — Taranaki

Head Coach: Aldin Smith

Contracted players unavailable for selection

Blair Tickner — Hawke's Bay (BLACKCAPS Test squad)

Doug Bracewell— Hawke's Bay (BLACKCAPS Test squad)

Seth Rance — Wairarapa (shoulder injury)

Liam Dudding — Hawke's Bay (forearm injury)

Joey Field — Hawke's Bay (shoulder injury)

Follow the campaign with hashtags:

#plunketshield #lovethestags

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