The Knights are poised to start the McDonald's Super Smash with a bang with a team loaded with international experience and hungry up-and comers. Facing the Wellington Firebirds at Seddon Park on Sunday, the Knights are confident of a positive start to the T20 competition with a team that includes Big Bash players Ben Laughlin and Nathan Reardon, BLACKCAPS' Corey Anderson and Ish Sodhi and recent BLACKCAP Dean Brownlie to Captain. National Under 19 representative Zak Gibson is named for the first time for the McDonald's Super Smash, while the Knights are missing the services of Anton Devcich, who is sidelined for the season with a ligament injury, and Scott Kuggeleijn and Daniel Flynn also unavailable this round due to injury.
James Pamment, Head Coach of the Knights says that the mood amongst the players is very positive after a successful pre-season camp at Mt Maunganui this week, saying "By the end of the camp the players were getting very excited about the upcoming tournament. It's a great time of year to be playing McDonald's Super Smash and all the lads are really looking forward to it getting underway on Sunday."
Pamment says the strong start by the team in the Plunket Shield campaign has also helped with their preparation, and boosted their resolve in their training "(The Knights) Belief in each other, good culture and team spirit have been to the fore during the early stages of the Plunket Shield. With so many players unavailable through injuries and representative level, it has been encouraging to see the team playing for each other and working hard to get better. Collectively our fielding has gone to another level and it will be important we keep that progressing."
With key senior players, Devcich and Flynn unavailable, Pamment recognises that this creates opportunity for the younger players in the squad to make their mark "Our depth is constantly being tested and to lose two very important senior players is always going to be challenging. What their absence does provide is an opportunity and hopefully whoever gets that chance, embraces it and enjoys getting stuck in with the rest of the team."
Seddon Park is hosting four games of the McDonald's Super Smash for the Knights, and Northern Districts CEO Peter Roach is looking forward to the games being a key highlight on Hamilton's holiday calendar "Summer is finally here and so is the cricket. A Sunday on the banks of Seddon Park cheering on the local boys is an ideal way to mark the start of the summer of cricket. It will be terrific to see one of the world's best T20 players in Corey Anderson on display, as well as the skills of fellow internationals Brownlie, Sodhi, Laughlin and Reardon. Don't miss it."
Knights to face Wellington Firebirds:
Dean Brownlie (Captain), Bay of Plenty
Corey Anderson, Bay of Plenty
Jonathan Boult, Bay of Plenty
Joseph Carter, Bay of Plenty
Zak Gibson, Waikato Valley
Brett Hampton, Bay of Plenty
Nick Kelly, Counties Manukau
Ben Laughlin, International
Daryl Mitchell, Hamilton
Nathan Reardon, International
Tim Seifert, Waikato Valley
Ish Sodhi, Counties Manukau
Sunday's match starts at 2.00pm, with gates opening at 1.00pm. Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $5 kids with Junior Knights members being free. There will be clinic for Junior Knights members from 12.00pm on Seddon Park to launch the new season.