State Twenty20 winner State Canterbury Wizards and returning finalist State Central Stags contest the State Shield final at Christchurch’s QEII Park on Sunday.
Wizards’ South African coach Dave Nosworthy and ex-England Test player Graham Barlow, CD chief, lead their limited-overs specialist sides into the grand finale of the 50-over competition.
Canterbury coach Nosworthy is seeking his second trophy in a week. In his first season in charge, Canterbury captured the State Twenty20 title in Auckland last week – their first silverware in six years.
The team has always been packed with talent, from opener Nathan Astle, middle order batter Peter Fulton (pictured) and Craig McMillan, through wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum to veteran all-rounders Chris Cairns and Chris Harris.
But Nosworthy feels their performances this year have deserved honours.
He said: “(Nathan) Astle, (Peter) Fulton and Craig McMillan have all shown good form since coming back from internationals, but Michael Papps has also been playing well all through the season.
“All the guys have shown good form. They never rest on their laurels or assume it’s a fait accompli.
“I’ve tried to create a strong work ethic and the players are the ones. Every ones done really well, but it’s down to the players. And it’s up to it them to do the business on the day.
“Playing at home is always an advantage but we have had to earn it, you mustn’t forget that. Finals are funny things. But you do always want to take on the best.
West Indian fast bowler Nixon McLean will be given time to prove his fitness, with a final training session scheduled on the eve of the game.
Jamie How (pictured) will retain captaincy duties for the Stags captain as Jacob Oram continues to recover from his heel injury.
Otherwise, the Stags line-up remains based around the core of a side which have enjoyed a successful run to another final, enhancing their reputation as One-Day experts.
Their form has been based on a solid all-round team effort, from How and the promising Ross Taylor at the top of the order to bowling attack unit Ewen Thompson, Brendon Diamanti, Lance Hamilton, Greg Hegglun and recalled BLACKCAP Michael Mason.
They arrive looking to reclaim the title they earned in 2004, losing a year later in the final to State Northern Knights.
Barlow said: “We have only had Jacob for one game and didn’t have Jamie for the first three. We’ve been pretty lucky with injuries so that has been a bit of a bonus.
“We were lacking a bit of experience at the start of the season but the side have really come together. Senior players and younger ones have really stepped up and that’s been very pleasing. The batters have stepped up after we got a bit stuck early on.”
Barlow agreed the final was a showcase for the countries two best One-Day sides – as spelt out by the league table.
He said: “Whoever performs best on the day will win it. I think we’re the two best sides in the competition, as was the case last year with ourselves and ND.”
State Central Stags: Jamie How (captain), Geoff Barnett, Brendon Diamanti, Jarrod Englefield, Bevan Griggs, Lance Hamilton, Brent Hefford, Greg Hegglun, Michael Mason, Mathew Sinclair, Ross Taylor, Ewen Thompson.