My corner of the oval

… thoughts from a Kiwi cricket fan

First Class cricket in New Zealand – who says it’s boring?!

on November 23, 2012

I sat back to watch the Hell Wellington Firebirds latest round in the Plunket Shield tournament (the New Zealand domestic men’s cricket first-class competition) against the Canterbury Wizards at Mainpower Oval in Rangiora, on Monday this week … well, okay I use that term loosely; given that I live on another Island to Rangiora and given that sadly, domestic cricket in New Zealand doesn’t get the attention from the media that it has enjoyed in the past, I sat back to watch the on-line scorecard through the parent website, http://www.blackcaps.co.nz !

The picturesque ground that is Mainpower Oval

It didn’t start off in the best of ways for the Firebirds captain, Stephen Murdoch when the Wizards won the toss and decided to have a bowl first.

The Wellington opening batsmen, Josh Brodie and Michael Papps, started the innings relatively solidly, but then Canterbury introduced their lethal bowling weapon, otherwise known as Andy Ellis!  Slightly tongue in cheek with that comment, you’ll notice, as even though Mr Ellis is a very good bowler, I wouldn’t say he’d be that terrifying to face for the likes of the Firebirds’ internationally experienced top order.  Needless to say, Ellis took control of the innings and claimed 6 wickets for 58 runs!

At the time that the Wellington final batting pair were put together at the crease, I unfortunately had to leave the scorecard and go to a meeting.  Before I did, however, I said to myself, would it be too much to ask that Andy McKay and Mark Gillespie NOT get out until I can check the scorecard again?

Now I’m not saying I have any special powers or gifts – he he – but when I checked the scoreboard on my smartphone after my appointment, Mark Gillespie had scored 77 runs!  And he and McKay had given their side a very respectable run tally to defend of 239; I think I even stopped dead on the pavement and stared in awe and shock at my phone (must’ve looked really silly to anyone watching – ha ha!) : News article on batting heroics of McKay and Gillespie

The day ended on a positive note for the Firebirds, claiming two of the Wizards wickets and leaving the bowlers hopeful of a good day the next day.  Sadly, the Spring weather forecast put paid to any play at all being possible on day two and so it was left to the Canterbury batsmen to come back on day three to advance the game a bit.

This they did, starting with an innings of 79 from Peter Fulton, but mainly due to Dean Brownlie’s innings of 133 runs.  The best of the Wellington bowlers was Gillespie himself, with figures of 4/74 from his 24 overs he bowled.

After gaining a lead of 62 runs, Fulton (being the Captain of the Wizards) declared the innings closed and the Firebirds set about restoring the fans’ faith in their batting abilities in their second innings.  Which they definitely did, with Brodie and Papps taking the side to stumps on day three without losing a wicket and with Papps himself sitting on 95 runs overnight.

Coming back for day 4, and you’d be forgiven for thinking the game would fizzle out to a dull draw.  Not to be the case, as Brodie batted well for his innings of 74 runs, but Papps was the stand-out, scoring a double century on what used to be one of his home grounds (finishing with a score of 206 not out).  Luke Woodcock chipped in with a handy 45 runs as the Firebirds gave the Wizards a rather generous declaration of their innings, requiring them to score 303 runs off 61 overs.  Which would have been fine, if Fulton hadn’t been in such great form with the bat and scored a quick 104 runs, ably assisted by Shanan Stewart and Tom Latham’s half centuries, to get the home side home with 6 wickets to spare!  (Of course, it needs to be added that Wellington were without their two frontline bowlers for the second innings with Gillespie having a sore neck and McKay having a side strain … and the fans hoping that neither injury is serious!)

So really, how could anybody describe those last four days of first-class cricket as boring and not needing a close eye *cough* more radio and television coverage perhaps? 😉

And did you know there have been 20 centuries scored in the Plunket Shield this season SO FAR, starting with the first match back in October when two players scored three centuries between them?!  If the Black Caps’ selectors are in any doubt as to where to find a few batsmen for the upcoming tour of South Africa, they don’t have far to look 😉

And just to highlight one such candidate, the Wizards Captain himself, Peter Fulton’s innings so far in the Plunket Shield:  29, 13, 102, 108, 79 and 104 – not bad at all!  🙂

The Black Caps website summary of the match

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2 responses to “First Class cricket in New Zealand – who says it’s boring?!

  1. lol! They should probs start thinking of what they’re gonna do over here soon as well. 😉

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