The 2017/18 first-class cricket season is underway with aspiring BLACKCAPS out to make a name for themselves in round one of New Zealand’s historic Plunket Shield, underway this morning in Christchurch, Wellington and Mount Maunganui.

CAPTAINCY NEWS

An extraordinary feature of this season’s opening Plunket Shield round is that no fewer than five of the six teams are beginning the season under a different captain. The Central Stags, led by Will Young, are the only side to enter the new season under the same man to have helmed them through 2016/17.

Auckland Aces: Michael Guptill-Bunce makes his captaincy debut following the off-season departure of Rob Nicol to the Otago Volts
Otago Volts: Rob Nicol will make his Volts debut as their new captain, taking over from Brad Wilson (who remains in the team)
Wellington Firebirds: Michael Bracewell, who transferred from the Otago Volts to the capital ahead of this season, make his Firebirds debut as their captain, taking over from Michael Papps (who remains in the team)
Canterbury: With Andrew Ellis out with a broken hand, Cole McConchie steps up for his Canterbury captaincy debut
Northern Districts: Daniel Flynn is no stranger to the ND captaincy, but the former BLACKCAP steps back into the role after returning from a protracted absence last summer due to a hip injury.

SIGNIFICANT MILESTONES

Providing a core of stability to the Wellington Firebirds are three of the country’s most experienced first-class players. Michael Papps (who has also represented Canterbury) begins his 20th consecutive New Zealand first-class season; Jeetan Patel enters his 19th first-class season for Wellington and Luke Woodcock his 17th. Today’s match at the Basin Reserve is also Jeetan Patel’s 250th first-class appearance.

Meanwhile, Firebirds first-class debutant Ollie Newton took a wicket with his first ball in first-class cricket when play began this morning, then went on to claim a sensational three wickets with his first four deliveries.

Full round one media backgrounder and match officials appointments here

Plunket Shield Round One, Day One

Otago Volts v Canterbury at Hagley Oval, Christchurch
TOSS: Canterbury, who elected to bat
Live Video Scorecard

First-class debutants Fraser Sheat and Blake Coburn; former Firebird Michael Pollard and loan player Brett Hampton (Northern Districts) all make their Canterbury debut after being named in the Canterbury XI. Rob Nicol makes his Otago Volts debut as Otago Volts captain.

Wellington Firebirds v Auckland Aces at Basin Reserve, Wellington
TOSS: Wellington Firebirds who elected to bowl
Live Video Scorecard

Former Firebirds Matt McEwan is on Auckland Aces debut while Michael Bracewell plays his first fixture for the Firebirds, as their captain; Ollie Newton is on first-class debut and former Canterbury allrounder Logan van Beek also makes his first appearance in Plunket Shield cricket as a Firebird.

Northern Districts v Central Stags at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
TOSS: Delayed after showers at the Mount this morning.
Hawke’s Bay batsman Brad Schmulian, a former Auckland club cricketer of the year, is in line for his first-class debut with the Central Stags.
I am on site at this match and available for updates.
Live scorecard link

Official hashtag: #PlunketShield

Team twitter updates:
@AucklandCricket
@NDCricket
@CentralStags
@WgtnFirebirds
@CanterburyCrick
@OtagoVolts

Photography of all three matches will be available from www.Photosport.nz