All images: PHOTOSPORT

Maiden century for Katene Clarke, maiden bag for Kristian Clarke in clutch win




Seddon Park, Hamilton

13-16 March, 2023



First innings points:

Northern Districts: 4 batting, 4 bowling

Wellington Firebirds: 4 bowling, 1 batting

Total points this round: Northern Districts 20, Wellington Firebirds 5


Adam Milne: First-class debut for Wellington Firebirds

Katene Clarke: Maiden first-class century

Tim Pringle - highest first-class score

James Hartshorn: career-best bowling

Kristian Clarke: Maiden first-class five-wicket bag

Michael Snedden: Maiden first-class half century (nightwatchman)

Gareth Severin (above): Maiden first-class century, maiden 150

Gareth Severin: Career best score 196


No sooner had the toss been made and won by the Wellington Firebirds, than the first ground delay arrived on an overcast, rain-interrupted opening day in the urban heart of Waikato.

Firebirds captain Nick Kelly had no hesitation in bowling first, speedster Adam Milne in the Wellington first-class squad for the first time since his 2022 transfer to the team - and also, playing his first Plunket Shield match since he'd lifted the trophy with the Central Stags four years earlier.

Milne finished his day's work with 2/31 from his nine while Northern Districts - the only team to have picked up a win in the dramatic previous round - made it to 218/4 in the 51.5 overs of play.

Fresh off a hundred, opener Jeet Raval continued his watchful work with an unbeaten 71* in an unbroken partnership of 96 for the fifth wicket with Katene Clarke.

Clarke hit four sixes as he raced to 60 off 66 balls before stumps, in his trademark positive style.

Milne had got ND's other opener Henry Cooper caught behind before adding Mitch Santner (13) - another man fresh off a century, caught behind as well.


In the opening session of the second day's play, Katene Clarke reached his maiden first-class century off just 128 balls, after 208 minutes with nine boundaries and five sixes in the mixer.

He formed a dream combination with Colin de Grandhomme as the two aggressive hitters put together a quick 98-run stand for the sixth wicket, dominated by de Grandhomme's brutal 71 off 54 balls - with three sixes of his own.

It was a relieved Kieran McComb who finally took de Grandhomme's wicket as the heavy hitter attempted an artful paddle down the leg side, gone at 316/6.

Clarke carried on to 136 (10 boundaries, six sixes in all), with assistance from Brett Hampton (34) as ND reached 405 in 88.1 overs in their first innings.

For the Firebirds, Logan van Beek finished with a tidy 4-88, James Hartshorn picking up a career-best three-fa and keeper Callum McLachlan four catches in the innings.

The game continued to progress at speed, and by stumps ND had the Firebirds six down and still trailing by a hefty 254.

The other K. Clarke; pace allrounder Kristian Clarke | PHOTOSPORT

The spin trio had been devastating again, with only the young stars Rachin Ravindra (48, before he was trapped by Mitch Santner) and Muhammad Abbas (unbeaten on 70* at stumps) getting starts - Abbas with the possibility of a second century in just his third match if he can kick on right when his team needs it tomorrow.


Muhammad Abbas continued to impress with his temperament under pressure, picking up where he had left the night before to reach 95 despite the loss of his overnight partner at 161/7.

But the new ball brought further reward for another impressive young player in Kristian Clarke, who trapped Abbas at 196/8.

Clarke (no relation to centurion Katene Clarke) went on to pick up his maiden first-class bag, taking the last wicket in the 64th over to roll the Firebirds for 221, and walk off with figures of 5/62.

That meant a painful 184-run first innings deficit for the Firebirds, but they started their second innings with the ball well.

A sharp start from Adam Milne and two quick wickets to Logan van Beek had ND's top three all back in the hutch at 30/3.

Fresh off a century in the last game, Mitch Santner steadied the ship with Tim Seifert as the pair put on 69 for the fifth wicket, until Santner (37) fell shortly before tea at 99/4, a big wicket for Kieran McComb.

But for the second successive match, ND was in control, and in the process of setting a big last day chase for their opposition.

Declaring at 206/8, the Firebirds would need 390 from three and a bit sessions. By stumps, they were 17/1.


Michael Snedden proved his worth as the Firebirds' nightwatchman, enjoying his task on the last morning as he continued on and raised a maiden first-class half century.

It was designated opener Devan Vishvaka who lost his wicket almost as soon as play recommenced - another wicket in the match for the deceptive Kristian Clarke, while the nightwatchman elevated to first drop soldiered on, and on, and on some more, with Gareth Severin.

The lanky Snedden stunned as he eased past his previous first-class best of 29 and reached a half century off 154 balls, with half a dozen boundaries included.

Growing in confidence - after stepping back and giving himself room to unleash a couple of full-bodied sixes off spinner Tim Pringle, there was a suspicion he may even go on to exceed himself.

He almost did, reaching 90 before his luck ran out, against Mitch Santner at 195/3.

Though a shock maiden century had gone begging, he could take great satisfaction in a defiant 176-run stand for the third wicket with Severin.

The latter was meanwhile making just his second first-class appearance, and stuck around admirably until a milestone of his own was in sight.

He got there after tea, raising his bat for maiden first-class ton, off 194 balls, with eight boundaries.

By the start of the last hour, the Firebirds were still frustrating ND at 282/5 after 95 overs, with Severin now 137* and Callum McLachlan having joined him after the loss of Nick Kelly (20, caught off Joe Walker) and Muhamad Abbas (another Santner victim on 8).

The Firebirds still needed more than run a ball to get the result, while Northern now needed just five wickets, with their strong spin attack in action. But the runs were flowing often enough to make them nervous, and with a minimum 13 overs remaining, the Firebirds needed just 97 more.

Severin had just reached his 150* when he lost McLachlan at 300/6, replaced by Logan van Beek. The runs kept coming in a gripping finish, until the Firebirds needed their last 50 off just 38 balls.

Van Beek (24) would be stumped off Pringle at 394/7, then stopped an aggressive Adam Milne off his next over at 386/8.

Still, Severin was at his post - and drawing closer to a score he could scarcely have dreamed of.

Meanwhile, ND was in with a realistic sniff of their second outright on the bounce. The Firebirds needed 5 runs off the final over of the day, Severin on 195 not out. Northern needed two wickets. Nailbiter!

Severin picked a single off Santner first delivery. James Hartshorn returned the favour with a chancy single of his own next ball. Now it was three off three, and one lusty blow would deliver not only a win, but an unbeaten maiden double century for the remarkable Severin in just his second game.

But cricket can be a cruel taskmaster, and as Severin went to slog Santner with all his might, his heart dropped from this throat to his toes as he watched Kristian Clarke gleefully pouch the catch.

Severin's outstanding innings had come to grief at the saddest possible moment, after 260 balls, 398 minutes, 16 boundaries and three sixes.

Now Wellington needed three off the last two balls of the match, with last man Kieran McComb walking to the middle. But all the expertise of Santner was too much for him as the huddle of fielders closed in around him. He was caught first ball by Katene Clarke at short leg, and Northern went up as their joy was heard in Huntly.

They had just taken the maximum 40 points from their last two games, with back-to-back breath-taking nailbiters and their spinners up to the task.

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