CD Stags v Wellington
Pukekura Park, New Plymouth
Doug Bracewell is back and so is Adam Milne but that's hardly the story for tomorrow's domestic cricket match.
It's more a case of who isn't in the mix of outgoing coach Alan Hunt for the round-seven Ford Trophy match at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, that makes you go mmm.
Wait for it ... Mathew Sinclair.
Go through the Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags line-up and at the familiar No4 position crops up the name William Young.
Co-selectors Hunt, Gary Cunningham and Craig Ross have dropped Mr Reliable from the defending champions' team to play the Wellington Firebirds in a last-ditch attempt to keep their hopes alive to make the top-four play-offs.
"Mathew's form is not as good as we hoped of a player of his stature," says Hunt of the 37-year-old who has 36 first-class centuries to his credit for the 2012-13 Plunket Shield champions.
The CD faithful may well argue an out-of-form Sinclair will be a better bet than any other joker, but in an individually selfish game masquerading as a team one batsmen and bowlers live and die by the latest series of numbers flashing on the electronic scoreboards.
"It was a very tough decision but Mathew's clever enough and knows it himself," Hunt explains after Sinclair has accumulated about 60 runs from six games.
"He's still a very important man in our team and just because he's not in the next game it doesn't mean he's not good enough."
CD received a good old-fashioned thumping against the Auckland Aces in the previous round at the Eden Park Outer Oval where the visitors could only scrounge out an embarrassing 74 runs in their run chase of 280-odd.
Hunt again reiterates his bowlers did commendably well to restrict the hosts to a target on a wicket where the Aces had mustered a 350-plus total in the previous game.
He says while openers Jamie How and Jeet Raval have been producing the goods with the other top-order batsmen Sinclair appears to be in the doldrums.
If anyone knows Sinclair they will tell you he will be like bull to a red rag, coming out spraying a staccato of bullets akin to an untamed Uzi if asked what he thinks of his non-selection.
Perhaps he's dwelling on what he will be doing over winter to pay his bills and keep his young family in a good space.
In the limited-overs competition, The Station Napier Old Boys' Marist player boasts three tons and 37 half-centuries in a career spanning from 1995 to this summer, averaging 39.68, marginally below Martin Crowe's 41.16 and Ross Taylor's 49.83.
He's got the fourth-fastest century for CD against Canterbury Wizards in 2009-10. He twice topped the number of runs scored in a season - 2008-09 (532) and 2009-10 (396).
He is a country mile ahead in appearances for The Stags with 145 to the last round and he has the record third-wicket record partnership of 231 runs with Dean Robinson last summer against Canterbury in Rangiora.
The former Black Caps batsman also has a hand in the fourth-wicket partnership of 132 with Jacob Oram against the Auckland Aces in 2003-04.
Hunt says former New Zealand Under-19 captain Young had returned from a broken finger but was unlucky to lose his wicket before he was taken out of the equation.
"Ben Smith played better," he says of the Ruahine Motors Central Hawke's Bay cricketer.
Bracewell has begun bowling in the nets after picking up a cut on his foot following a party at his home in Napier just before the first test in Dunedin. He's running again but there's still a little bruising around the injured area.
"Something happened to his foot and he can explain it the best.
"His 22 and he's got to learn from it," Hunt says, adding the Taradale Cricket Club player must not only be feeling the effects of missing out on selection for the Black Caps against England but also taking a hit on his income.
"There's some chance he'll be back for the third test but there are no guarantees." Bracewell was still experiencing some discomfort but Hunt reckons he's a fit, young man who did the hard yards with the Stags during their preparation for the Plunket Shield.
Against Wellington tomorrow, the visitors have the edge over CD after last round's bonus-point victory for the fourth place in the playoffs so anything shy of a win for the Stags will signal the end of their campaign.
"We left Auckland with our tails between our legs so it'll be interesting to see how we react."
CD Stags: Jamie How, Jeet Raval, Carl Cachopa, William Young, Ben Smith, Kieran Noema-Barnett, Kruger van Wyk (wk), Doug Bracewell, Tarun Nethula, Adam Milne, Andrew Mathieson, Ajaz Patel.
Coach: Alan Hunt. Assistant coach: Lance Hamilton.
Wellington Firebirds: Jesse Ryder, Michael Papps, Luke Ronchi (wk), Grant Elliott, James Franklin (c), Harry Boam, Luke Woodcock, Scott Kuggeleijn, Jeetan Patel, Mark Gillespie, Sven Friday, Stephen Murdoch.
Coach: Jamie Siddons.