2021/22 GRAND FINAL
Auckland Aces beat Central Stags by eight wickets
John Davies Oval, Queenstown
26 February 2022
The Auckland Aces’ magic run through the back end of The Ford Trophy has culminated in the team’s third national men’s one-day title in the space of five years.
Opening batsman George Worker (65 off 109 balls, below) again batted throughout the innings against his former team the Central Stags to secure the trophy with a convincing eight-wicket victory — the Aces chasing down 214 for the win after having earlier bowled out top qualifier the Stags for 213.
He shared a 157-run unbroken partnership with Mark Chapman (92 not out off 75 balls) for the third wicket to bring the trophy home.
In his first summer for the Aces, the veteran left-hander added to his collection of Ford Trophy records again today, his knock of 65 not out taking him past Lou Vincent’s record for most List A one-day runs for the Aces in a single season (Vincent 642; Worker 672).
Worker also holds the same record for the Stags (659 in 2016/17) with whom he has previously lifted the trophy.
Worker's debut summer also saw him break the Auckland Aces all wickets partnership with Martin Guptill (against the Otago Volts earlier this week) and the Aces and national record for most Ford Trophy centuries in one summer (four, after Thursday’s final regular season match against the Stags).
Unsurprisingly Worker finished as the runaway overall top run-scorer in this year’s Ford Trophy, his 672 runs at an impressive 84.00 average including four centuries and one half century among his 10 innings. His top score this season of 139 not out was also the highest of the competition.
After Aces captain Robbie O’Donnell had elected to bowl on the fresh wicket, BLACKCAPS quick Lockie Ferguson took 4-32 to finish The Ford Trophy as the equal top wicket-taker alongside Otago Volt Matt Bacon. Ferguson took 14 wickets at a 14.64 average from just six matches, including one four-wicket haul and a bag of 6/34.
Conditions in Queenstown featured a chilly, stiff southerly whipping along The Remarkables which meant the teams’ respective quicks, Ferguson and Central Stag Adam Milne, were both menacing with the wind behind their back.
Bowlers into the wind had their work cut out, but Ferguson’s opening partner, left-armer Ben Lister, impressed with a tidy 0-36, as did spinner Will Somerville who contributed two runouts with direct hits, and O’Donnell himself with two catches — removing Stags opener Bayley Wiggins with a stunning piece of athleticism.
For the Stags, captain Tom Bruce top-scored with a knock of 63 at almost run-a-ball pace, a lack of momentum with the bat for much of the innings ultimately cost Central valuable runs: a total of 213 in 49.5 overs looked on the light side against an opposing team that had been in electric form with the bat.
The Aces chased down their target in just 36.1 overs to cap off the NZC men's Domestic summer in style.
WHAT THEY SAID
Auckland Aces captain Robbie O’Donnell:
“It means a lot today. Skippering the side this season I was captain throughout the season, whereas the last one we won, I was the captain in the Final, but Craig Cachopa had been leading us throughout that campaign until then.
“George’s volume of runs was special. Last year, my younger brother Will ended up scoring 537 runs through the tournament and led it that year, and then this year George has scored a silly amount of runs, and that’s got us into a position where we can win.
“Having Lockie Ferguson back was significant, and I also felt Ben Lister was starting to get himself into the human bowling machine mold - he makes life tough for the opposition and he did that all through the competition, going for just three or four runs an over all the time.
"He’s a special talent — he takes the ball away from the right-hander, and not many people around the world get exposed to that. And then just his control of length and his use of short balls now makes him a formidable talent. He had to unfortunately use those big legs and run into the wind today, but there’s never a complaining moment from Ben, and he’s someone I hope to play a lot of cricket with moving forward.
“The lockdown-delayed start to our season probably did have an effect on us in our Twenty20 campaign, where we were a bit rusty. There’s nothing that replaces being out in the middle. With that competition behind us, and then this back end of this Ford Trophy competition where we had five games in nine days, we did start rolling off each other’s success. Batters got in and took it deep, getting big hundreds multiple times, and bowlers just kept putting it in the right areas for extended periods. We’re in a different landscape with COVID-19 but it was worth every sacrifice.”
Top Ford Trophy batsman George Worker:
“It’s been a really special last month with the side, and if you’d said that at the start of the campaign [breaking three major Auckland Aces records on his first season with the team, and winning the title] I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s an amazing feeling to come out on top. I treated each innings as though it was my last because I really wanted to do well for the Aces side in my first season.
“I enjoyed getting to play more games at Kennards Hire Community Oval, it’s a wonderful wicket there and the curators do an excellent job. That partnership there with Marty Guptill was really special, and it just makes my job that much easier batting with Guppy and then having the ilk of Glenn Phillips coming in at three and Mark Chapman at four and the skip Robbie at five. A lot of credit has to go to those guys as well for making my job easier by taking the pressure of me.
“This title is really special. I feel for my old team-mates at CD, but I’m absolutely stoked.
"Today wasn’t my most fluent innings, but I just wanted to be there at the end. I was just trying to deny them early wickets. I was pretty confident at the break that we would chase it down, but I thought they could have won today by getting more wickets in those first 10 to 15 overs — so I was just trying to deny them that opportunity.
"Milney [Adam Milne] bowled well at the top, and he’s obviously sharp. It was a great exhibition today of pace bowling from both sides, and a good challenge.”
Top Ford Trophy bowler Lockie Ferguson:
“I got the treats today, helped by hard work at the other end from Ben Lister who bowled 10 into the wind, and with back-up from Will Somerville and Glenn Phillips. That kind of team performance is what we have been working hard on together, and I was just the fortunate one today with the wind right behind me.
“Today was probably one of the better days I’ve had this season, and it’s nice to have a good all-round team performance in a Final.
"I also thought with the number of games in the last 10 days or so, for the team to have the amount of energy we had, and to be switched on for the whole innings, to bounce back each time; that spoke of the character of the team and the culture that we’re building - and for the young guys to see that out in the field is key.
“I’ve been running a few niggles this year with the condensed season which is slightly tougher on my body, but having rested for a couple of games meant I was fresh today. I was excited to play the Final, I love the Aces lads, and to get the mitts on the trophy as well was truly special.”
2022 FORD TROPHY GRAND FINAL SCORES