CANTERBURY v CENTRAL STAGS
Mainpower Oval, Rangiora
21-24 February 2019
First innings bonus points
Bowling: Canterbury 4 (maximum achieved), Central Stags 4 (maximum achieved)
Batting: Central Stags 2 (completed), Canterbury 2 (completed)
An innings victory to the Auckland Aces over the Otago Volts and a rare loss inflicted on the Central Stags has seen the Aucklanders overtake defending champions the Stags at the top of New Zealand's first-class leaderboard.
With just three rounds to go, Canterbury became the first team to defeat the Stags since October 2016, after a nail-biting penultimate afternoon in Rangiora.
There were echoes of the Round One thriller between the same two sides, Ryan McCone (4-25, below) keeping the Stags in the hunt against his old side and getting Canterbury eight down as the hosts chased just 208 for an outright victory.
However, this time Matt Henry and Cam Fletcher ticked off the winning runs to seal Canterbury's second outright of the season, and end the Stags' undefeated streak at 21 matches: a CDCA first-class record that finished three short of equalling the national record.
The win capped a thrilling match that also saw lifelong Cantabrian Todd Astle (292) overtake fellow spinner Mark Priest (290) as the Canterbury's leading all-time first-class wicket-taker.
View this post on Instagram
#Repost @todd.astle ・・・ The proud moment I became the leading first class wicket taker for @canterburycricket. I debuted in December 2005 and on the 23/2/2019 I achieved the special feat in game number 101. It’s been an incredible ride with lots of twists and turns but I feel honoured to be a part of Red and Black history. Thank you to all those that have paved the way before me, all those whom I’ve played alongside, and to my friends and in particular my family for your support along the way in helping me achieve this milestone. #canterbury #redandblack #wearecanterbury
Earlier, overnight incumbent George Worker had made it to 83, with fellow overnight batsman Cleaver reaching 63. But they would prove to be the only scores of note in the second innings, after Astle (3-38) made the first breakthrough of the day and, with Cole McConchie a career best 4-46) ripped through the rest of the order to dismiss the Stags for 226, leaving a target of just 208 and an ocean of time at Canterbury's disposal.
Canterbury resumed at 88 for two after having dismissed the Stags for 261 the previous day. Seamers continued to dominate, with only one wicket falling to a spinner in either of the first innings. Stephen Murdoch soon picked off thre three further runs he required for a half century, however captain Cole McConchie had already departed with no addition to the overnight scoreboard at 88 for three, Doug Bracewell delighting in the early breakthrough.
Ben Wheeler then rapidly sent Leo Carter on his way and 99 for four became 99 for five when Bracewell then got the form horse Murdoch caught on 56.
In a match progressing at speed, a partnership was needed and Cam Fletcher (60) made a good start on the fifth wicket with Todd Astle before their 51-run stand was cut off by Astle shouldering arms to the wily Seth Rance. Henry Shipley, however, provided useful late support with his 56, Fletcher stringing together another partnership of 52 runs.
Rance (4-67) and McCone (2-55) meanwhile kept picking off the wickets until Canterbury was all out for 280 on the stroke of tea, a first-innings lead of just 19 runs.
The Stags needed to take control in their second dig but the action continued apace, the visitors three down by stumps for just 106 runs after a torrid last session. Captain Greg Hay had lasted just two balls, Will Young and Tom Bruce the other big wickets back in the hutch cheaply as pace continued to dominate. However, opener George Worker had battled away and made it to 50* with Dane Cleaver 33* overnight.
In the 100th first-class match between the two sides, Plunket Shield leaders the Central Stags were dismissed by Canterbury for 261 in just 66 66 overs on the first day at Rangiora’s Mainpower Oval — after captain Greg Hay had elected to bat first on a deck that offered some movement.
Hay himself was one of the early victims as the return of BLACKCAP Matt Henry paid dividends for the hosts — Henry going on to bag five for 76 off just 20 overs — his13th first-class five-wicket-bag, and sixth for Canterbury.
Henry also held a catch to dismiss the final batsman, Seth Rance, in the 66th over in a performance that netted the full four bowling bonus points for Canterbury, while the Stags had been seven down by the time they reached 200 for their first bonus.
Wickets had fallen regularly after Henry stopped top-scorer Tom Bruce after a run-a-ball 74. Bruce had shared a 128-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Dane Cleaver (65) as the visitors had looked to rebuild from 39/3.
Canterbury began their reply with a maximum 27 overs left in the day but suffered an early setback with Rance produced a peach of an in-swinger with just his second delivery to knock Chad Bowes’s off-stump out of the ground, the scoreless Bowes having shouldered arms.
Ben Wheeler dealt another blow soon after by removing fellow opening batsman Jack Boyle for seven at his home ground, but Stephen Murdoch (47*) and captain Cole McConchie (32*) steadied the ship with an 80*-run stand for third wicket before stumps.
Canterbury will resume tomorrow (Friday) at 88 for two, trailing by just 173 on the first innings.