Plunket Shield round nine DAY FOUR: Mondiale Auckland Aces 668/7 declared in 144 overs (Raval 33, Hay 65, Munro 281 off 167 balls yes you read it right, O'Donnell 42, Grobbelaar 37, Brad Cachopa 135 not out; Wheeler 2-69) beat the Devon Hotel Central Stags 233 all out in 72 overs (Young 47, van Wyk 65 not out; Bates 3-51) and 371/9 in 93.3 overs following on (Smith 37, Young 86, Bruce 50, van Wyk 55, Cleaver 31, Rance 37; Ferguson maiden 5-58) by an innings and 64 runs at Nelson Park, Napier
Plunket Shield is brought to you by Budget Car and Truck Rental
Watch Colin Munro smash the world record for most sixes in a first-class innings:
The Devon Hotel Central Stags took another one in the ribs early on the final day with dismissal of Will Young, who had been permitted just a further two runs before Donovan Grobbelaar had him caught for a brave 86.
Still in grave danger of an innings defeat, the Stags kept showing spirit as Dane Cleaver joined his determined captain Kruger van Wyk at the crease and promptly began picking off four-balls to gallop to 30, at run-a-ball pace.
It couldn't last. Leggie Tarun Nethula, who had likewise stopped a barnstorming Tom Bruce on 50, did the trick again, Cleaver caught on 31. Four wickets, now, was surely all it would take for the Mondiale Aces, on course to bag the maximum 20 points from the penultimate round.
The eighth wicket fell just after van Wyk had posted his fifty, Matt Quinn picking up two quick wickets in Doug Bracewell and Ben Wheeler. Now Seth Rance joined his skip, and slapped a boundary and a six off Quinn's next over to reduce the Aces' lead to 98.
The ninth wicket put Lockie Ferguson within one good shout of a maiden five-for: it was van Wyk, caught on 55 after three hours of stubborness. Rance didn't back off, galloping to 37 off just 29 balls before Ferguson nailed his maiden five-for, and a 64-run innings victory, shortly before 1pm with his wicket.
The Aces had just bagged a vital 20-pointer, with one home game to come in the Plunket Shield season.
Resuming on 148/6 and still in the deep black of the shadow that had been cast by the Aces' near-record total, if ever the Stags needed a miracle, it was now.
Earlier in the season, captain Kruger van Wyk had produced courage under fire with a maiden rearguard Ford Trophy century saving his side from defeat — they went on to win the title. In front of him was a statistically steeper challenge now, but the renowned fighter knew the drill. He snapped on his armour and went out to face the music for as long as he could.
By the time the Aces had dispensed with all of his battle-mates, van Wyk was the last man standing, unbeaten on 65 after almost four hours of hard graft. It had been a team effort from the Aces as they wrapped up, captain Michael Bates finishing with the lion's share of three wickets as the Stags were dismissed for 233 on the stroke of lunch, 435 runs behind.
Backs to the wall, the Stags had all lunchtime to think about how they might go about their innings second time around, the follow-on unsurprisingly enforced. By tea they were three down, Lockie Ferguson doing all the damage in the session. George Worker's erratic Plunket Shield had continued as he went for 26, then with his next over Ferguson had Greg Hay caught behind for a duck.
Ben Smith (37) and Will Young put on another 44 runs for the third wicket before Smith was caught behind as well, the Stags 96/3 and in the danger zone trailing by 311 at the tea break.
Young knuckled down with van Wyk, however, to post both his half-century and the Stags' 200 with a single off Robbie O'Donnell. By the time bad light ushered in stumps, they were sitting on a 59-run partnership, the deficit 196 at 239/4.
When a rearguard batsman scores his third first-class century in just six games, it's hard to imagine the accomplishment being overlooked. But following on after Colin Munro's blistering day one efforts, Brad Cachopa's career best third career first-class century is not destined to be the game's immediate talking point.
Having been eight overnight, Cachopa's fine unbeaten 135 off 201 balls on day two iced the cake for the Aces as they surged on past the 500 mark, then the 600 in the middle session to lodge the second highest first-class total in their history: 668/7, behind the record 693/9 posted in the 1939/40 season. Needless to say, the Aces had kept their goals on target with the maximum four batting bonus points on the way.
But for the Stags, who entered this round knowing they were already out of title contention, the punishment continued. After having chased leather to all corners of the ground for the best part of five sessions, now they found themselves three down inside 15 overs.
It got worse for the hosts, six down by stumps with the Aces in a thoroughly dominant position, leading by 520 runs. After the top order had crumbled, Will Young had continued to show his promise by rustling up 47, but when he and Dane Cleaver each fell to leg spinner Tarun Nethula in quick succession late in the day, it left Stags captain Kruger van Wyk (unbeaten on 28 overnight) in the all too familiar role this season of trying to lead a tough rescue mission.
The penultimate round of the 2014/15 Plunket Shield kicked off with the Stags putting the Aces in at Napier’s Nelson Park, but it was a decision they rapidly came to regret thanks to a record-smashing day from Colin Munro.
BLACKCAP Doug Bracewell had come in for Andy Mathieson to open the Stags' attack, but it was Ben Wheeler who struck first in his opening spell, the Aces 20/1 after Anaru Kitchen was snaffled early in the slips by George Worker.
While the Stags could be pleased with having the Aces two down by lunch, they were in for some thunderous punishment as Munro began to fire up, supported by Carl Cachopa as he built a racy 157-run third wicket stand.
Attacking from the outset, Munro's gameplan could well have been read as getting quick, big runs so he could watch as much of the BLACKCAPS' Cricket World Cup Semi-Final as possible: his century came off just 68 balls, and contained no fewer than eight sixes: the fourth-fastest century in Plunket Shield and overall New Zealand first-class history. It's worth noting here that he also owns the third-fastest century, which came off 65 balls against the SBS Bank Otago Volts last season!
On first-class debut, Hawke's Bay paceman Blair Tickner claimed his maiden Plunket Shield wicket in the middle session by finally breaking the third wicket stand, getting Cachopa caught by Greg Hay for 65. But like Tom Bruce, George Worker and Bracewell, his economy rate was in for a Munro-style caning.
By now the Aces had rocketed away to a sturdy 221/3, Munro on 108. By tea, he had 60 of his runs in sixes, and was just one single away from a ballistic 150, his unbeaten 149 at the break off just 109 balls. Second ball after tea, a single off Wheeler completed formalities for a 111-ball 150.
The Munro show continued as he celebrated by plundering three sixes in four balls off a single Doug Bracewell over to take himself to 183, the BLACKCAPS paceman fuming. Another six off Worker helped the Aces' destroyer cruise into the 190s, then a boundary off Bruce first ball of the following over posted a sensational unbeaten double hundred, off just 133 balls.
While it was raining at Eden Park, it was raining only sixes in Napier. By the time an almost startled Tom Bruce brought Munro's innings to an end, on a career best 281 (his previous best having been a not inconsiderable 269 not out), Munro and Robbie O'Donnell had set a new fourth wicket record partnership for the Aces against the Stags of 214.
The Stags had been forced to sit back and watch the Aces rip the game away from them inside two sessions, but that seemed besides the point as no cricket lover could help but admire Munro's devastating confidence.
Munro's 281 had come from just 167 balls, and contained a new world record of 23 sixes (worth 138 runs on their own) in a first-class innings, alongside 17 boundaries. The previous record for most sixes in a first-class innings, 16, had been jointly held by Andrew Symonds, Graham Napier, Jesse Ryder (in his 137-ball knock of 175 for New Zealand against Australia A in Brisbane, 2011) and Mukhtar Ali.
Was it New Zealand's fastest first-class double ton?
The 200 had come in 133 balls and 193 minutes. New Zealand Cricket statistics guru Francis Payne reported that Australian legend Victor Trumper (293 on tour against Canterbury in 1914) had made his double century in 131 minutes, but the number of balls was never recorded. John R. Reid had made his 200 (296) for Wellington against Canterbury in 1963 in 167 minutes — a picture of that day, then a world record for its 15 sixes, still hangs in the players' tunnel at the Basin Reserve. Certainly Munro's 193-minute effort had beaten Nathan Astle's record-breaking Test match 222 against England (153 balls in 217 minutes).
Munro's 281 had stopped just eight runs short of equalling the highest ever individual innings for the Aces, a record that dates back to the 1936/37 season.
It was a hard act to follow for sure as Donovan Grobbelaar walked to the middle to join Robbie O'Donnell, the Aces on top at 435/4. When bad light stopped play after 92 overs, the Aces were 471/5 with Grobbelaar on 19 and Brad Cachopa on eight.