A regional ground north of Christchurch is an odd place for a young Australian cricketer to make his first-class debut.
But after gaining his first-class debut in New Zealand, Daniel Sams is hoping his efforts in Aotearoa this fortnight can fire him to a place in the T20 World Cup.
Sams is touring New Zealand for the first time as an Australia international, but not for the first time as a cricketer.
In 2017, he answered a call from Canterbury to turn out in the Plunket Shield – NZ’s version of the Sheffield Shield.
“Our head of selectors came up to me and said Canterbury Cricket had contacted NSW asking for a bowler,” he said.
“I was more than happy to go.
“I wasn’t 100 per cent sure of the quality of the competition … but it was definitely higher than any cricket I’d played before.”
He debuted in Rangiora, taking the wicket of Black Caps wicketkeeper Tim Seifert and scoring knocks of 49 and 88.
“The now-New Zealand coach, Gary Stead, was Canterbury coach then,” Sams said.
“Before I went in to bat in the first game he said ‘just go out and be free and bat the way you think you need to bat in that situation’.
“That’s stuck with me throughout my career. It frees me up and try to evaluate the situation and play how I think the situation needs.”
Sams played three matches in New Zealand – taking 11 wickets and averaging 40 with the bat – before he was cut for another international, Ben Stokes.
A month later, Sams made his BBL debut for the Sydney Sixers, taking 4-14 – the best return for a first-gamer in the competition.
Of this month’s touring side, only Sams and Mitch Marsh – who played a 2016 Test – had previously played at Hagley Oval.
Perhaps that’s why Marsh top-scored with 45 and Sams burst out of the blocks with his opening spell.
Sams removed big-hitting veteran Martin Guptill and the world’s top-ranked Test batsman Kane Williamson in his first two overs.
However, the Aussie pair’s efforts weren’t enough for victory in Christchurch, with the tourists falling 53 runs short in their chase.
Sams said Australia were hopeful of improvement at Dunedin’s University Oval on Thursday in game two.
“Obviously the result didn’t go our way but we did a lot of good stuff,” he said.
“Particularly early on in our bowling innings.
“With our batting it’s just one of those things. New Zealand bowled really well and had the ball moving.
“Because it is a day game I’d expect it not to swing as much (in Dunedin).”