Above: Luke Ronchi batting for the Firebirds during his innings of 76 off 59 balls against the Knights on Wednesday
The Wellington Firebirds are playing for a place in the Ford Trophy Final this coming weekend when they play the Canterbury Wizards in Christchurch on Wednesday in the Major semi-final.
The winner of Wednesday’s Major semi-final between the Firebirds and the Wizards will play the Auckland Aces in the domestic 50-over Final at Eden Park Outer Oval on Sunday. The Aces confirmed their status as top qualifiers when they dispatched the Wizards by 128 runs in Wednesday’s first minor semi-final in neutral Hamilton.
The Firebirds head south to Hagley Oval in Christchurch to face the Wizards, fresh from beating the Northern Knights in two consecutive matches at the Hawkins Basin Reserve over the past week.
Last Wednesday they beat the Knights by 106 runs, with skipper James Franklin scoring a century and fast bowler Mark Gillespie taking 6 wickets. They backed this up on Sunday by bowling the Knights out for 140 and then picking off the runs with 27 overs to spare.
The Firebirds comfortably beat the Wizards when they played them in Christchurch a fortnight ago. Scott Kuggeleijn took 5 wickets as the Firebirds rolled the red and black contenders for 143. They then romped home by 7 wickets.
A feature of the Firebirds’ squad to play Canterbury is the return of left arm fast bowler Andy McKay from injury. McKay last played for the Firebirds in November.
Michael Papps will also be hoping to add to his run tally for the Firebirds this season. With an imperious on-drive for four during his innings of 14 against the Knights on Sunday he became the leading New Zealand domestic List A run scorer. Papps moved passed the mark of 4,397 runs held by Central’s Michael Sinclair.
The Firebirds squad to play Canterbury from 10.30 am on Wednesday is:
James Franklin (Captain, Wellington Collegians)
Harry Boam (Karori)
Grant Elliott (Naenae Old Boys)
Tipene Friday (North City)
Mark Gillespie (North City)
Scott Kuggeleijn (Wellington Collegians)
Andy McKay (Karori)
Michael Papps (Wellington Collegians)
Jeetan Patel (Eastern Suburbs)
Luke Ronchi (North City)
Jesse Ryder (Naenae Old Boys)
Steve Murdoch (Karori)
Luke Woodcock (Johnsonville)