14 Oct 2015

Full-strength Knights side to take on Firebirds in Hamilton

3:32 pm on 14 October 2015

The Northern Districts cricket team's calling on all five of their Black Caps for the opening match of the Plunket Shield.

Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Mitchell Santner, Kane Williamson and BJ Watling have all been included in the Knights match against the Wellington Firebirds in Hamilton on Thursday.

Northern Districts Test star BJ Watling in action against Central

Northern Districts Test star BJ Watling in action against Central Photo: Photosport

The entire New Zealand squad, bar captain Brendon McCullum, have been released to play in the opening round of the Plunket Shield domestic four-day competition from Thursday, before the start of the tour of Australia later this month.

McCullum's in London to give evidence in the Chris Cairns perjury court case.

Each side will play two of their 10 First Class matches this month, followed by one in December and the rest uninterrupted at the conclusion of the Ford Trophy one day competition in February.

Boult and Southee will lead the Knights' bowling attack at Seddon Park

Northern Districts Test bowler Tim Southee in action

Northern Districts Test bowler Tim Southee in action Photo: Photosport

It looms as an almighty challenge for the visiting Firebirds, though they will have the services of Luke Ronchi and last season's top run-scorer Stephen Murdoch.

At Eden Park's Outer Oval in Auckland, 2014-15 runners-up the Auckland Aces will clash with last year's champions, the Canterbury Kings.

Both sides will be boosted by a Test opening batsman, with Martin Guptill available for the Aces and Tom Latham likely to partner Peter Fulton at the top for the visitors.

The other fixture of round one sees the Bank Otago Volts side visit Central Districts at Nelson Park in Napier.

Jimmy Neesham, Mark Craig and Hamish Rutherford will feature for the Volts, as well as last year's leading wicket taker, Jacob Duffy.

They'll have their work cut out for them though, with last season's second top run scorer Will Young joined in the Stags' top order by Ross Taylor and Doug Bracewell, complimenting an already talented bowling attack.