Wellington Scoop

Bracewell leads Firebirds for Plunket Shield opener at the Basin

News from Cricket Wellington
The Wellington Firebirds team to play Auckland at Wellington’s Basin Reserve from Monday to Thursday has been named, with Logan van Beek and Michael Bracewell (as captain) in line to make their debuts for the side.

The Firebirds squad is:

Michael Bracewell (Captain)
Hamish Bennett
Tom Blundell
Fraser Colson
Iain McPeake
Stephen Murdoch
Ollie Newton
Jeetan Patel
Michael Papps
Matt Taylor
Logan van Beek
Luke Woodcock

The Firebirds went through the first half of last season’s Plunket Shield competition unbeaten, including a win in the corresponding fixture that opened their campaign at Mt Maunganui. After proving to be the country’s dominant white ball force in the First-Class break, their red ball form dropped away to see them finish in the middle of the table.

Bracewell and van Beek bring extensive First-Class experience in to the squad where they are joined by Ollie Newton, who will be hoping to make his First-Class debut after first appearing for the Firebirds in Super Smash action two seasons ago. Newton is understandably keen to be involved,

“It’s been great to have a full pre-season behind me after some injury frustrations last year. Like the rest of the team, I’ve been working really hard, but it’s nice to be rewarded with a spot in the 12.”

This year, with an extra month of time together as a team, the Firebirds are focused on maintaining their form through a long season that is punctuated by a revolving door of formats. Head Coach Bruce Edgar is positive about his side’s fortunes with a strong pre-season behind them,

“The Basin groundstaff did a brilliant job in preparing wickets that enabled us to get outside on grass, basically, from the day we came together. We’ve had three warm-up matches in a solid pre-season programme which has the guys keen to get to real cricket. They know there’s a different challenge coming on Monday but they’re extremely motivated to start our season on a positive note.”

Michael Bracewell joined the Firebirds in the off-season and will line up as captain in his debut for the capital city side. Although he came to Wellington looking to take on a leadership role, the captaincy came as something of a surprise. Now, on the verge of the season, that honour sits a little easier,

“Leading this side is a real honour and something that I’m really looking forward to. In the time we’ve been together we’ve really built on the team culture that saw the Firebirds be so successful last season, now it’s time to translate that to on-field performances and I’m excited about the role I have to play in that.”

News from Auckland Cricket
The Plunket Shield is back for 2017/18 with the Auckland Aces travelling to the Basin Reserve to take on the Wellington Firebirds in their opening Round One fixture.

Michael Guptill-Bunce leads the Aces into battle on Monday, captaining an “enthusiastic bunch of guys” with firepower throughout the batting and bowling lineup.

“We’ve got an exciting side, not just the guys who are playing but the whole squad. The Plunket Shield campaign could be something special for us,” Guptill-Bunce says.

“There will be plenty of youthful exuberance in the field and with our batting and bowling we hope to show [the Firebirds] some stuff they didn’t expect.”

After a long pre-season the Aces are more than ready to get out on the park.

“The boys are getting to a point that they just want to get into it, so as a team we are keen to play some cricket and see where we are at,” Guptill-Bunce says.

The skipper is pleased to be opening the Aces campaign at the Basin despite the usual obstacles the ground presents.

“A couple of the boys know they’ll be chugging into a wind, potentially a strong wind! But it’s a pretty special place to play cricket, awesome venue so you get up for it no matter what,” he says.

While he’s been a regular at the top of the order, Guptill-Bunce isn’t taking his new position of responsibility lightly.

“It’s a pretty big honour to be the captain of a First-Class team, something special, I’m looking forward to getting into it and leading the boys.”

The Aces take on the Firebirds, Monday 23 October, first ball 11am.

Auckland Aces

Michael Guptill-Bunce (c)
Michael Barry
Craig Cachopa
Mark Chapman
Lockie Ferguson
Donovan Grobbelaar
Ben Horne
Matt McEwan
Tarun Nethula
Robbie O’Donnell
Jeet Raval
Raja Sandhu

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