Hawke's Bay saw off a strong challenge from their arch rivals | HBCA

Dudding delivers in Hawke's Bay Hawke Cup defence

Hawke's Bay is celebrating the first defence of its newest Hawke Cup tenure after a sharply contested draw with archrival Manawatū kept the prized silverware in Napier on the first innings.

It was a star-studded affair with the Central Stags' shock exit from Dream11 Super Smash finals contention meaning a plethora of Plunket Shield players were available for both the teams from the opposing sides of the Ruahine Range.

Throwing it back to the golden age of the Hawke Cup, the stack of first-class and Domestic rep players named for the first 'normal season' Challenge Match included Hawke's Bay captain and spinning allrounder Angus Schaw, top order batter Jack Boyle, pace allrounder Will Clark, paceman Liam Dudding (fresh off two six-wicket bags in the Furlong Cup), young paceman Toby Findlay, spinning allrounder Brett Johnson, leg-spinning allrounder Brad Schmulian, paceman Ben Stoyanoff and wicketkeeper-batter Bayley Wiggins: all capped Stags across either the first-class or white-ball formats who were turning out for Hawke's Bay.

From the other side of the Ruahine Range, captain and allrounder Bevan Small, batters Mason Hughes and Curtis Heaphy and wicketkeeper-batter Dane Cleaver (fresh off an outstanding Dream11 Super Smash campaign with the blade) and left-arm in-swinging paceman Ray Toole all had the Domestic credentials as they looked to bring the Hawke Cup back with them from Napier.

This was the first Challenge Match of the regular 2023/24 summer since Hawke's Bay has uplifted the trophy from Rangiora at the start of the season, in a Zone 2 Challenge against Canterbury Country held over from 2022/23 due to the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle on the Hawke's Bay community.

Hawke's Bay retaining the Cup in that pandemic-truncated season, before losing it to Canterbury Country at the start of the 2022/23 Challenge series and snatching it back in style at the start of this season from Canterbury Country in Rangiora, in a match held over from 2022/23 due to Cyclone Gabrielle.

Meanwhile, Central Stags Plunket Shield captain Greg Hay and Otago Volts paceman Jarrod McKay (the Nelsonian and ex-Stag premitted to represent his home province at Hawke Cup level) were busy turning out for Nelson against Canterbury Country at Rangiora's Mainpower Oval in the concurrent Zone 3 Final of this summer, with Canterbury reps Fraser Sheat, Rhys Mariu and Harry Chamberlain all turning out for the hosts to determine which team would get to make the Zone 3 Challenge – with Canterbury Country winning on the first innings and inking in a challenge later this summer.

Hawke's Bay and Manawatū both have decorated histories in the competition that stretches all the way back to 1910. Manawatū most recently held the silverware in 2014/15, before surrendering the prize to Canterbury Country, and most recently challenged Hawke's Bay in 2021/22.

Hawke's Bay meanwhile had held onto the Cup in that pandemic-truncated season, before losing it to Canterbury Country at the start of the 2022/23 Challenge series, and snatching it back in style at the start of this season from Canterbury Country in Rangiora.

To retain the Hawke Cup this time, as usual Hawke's Bay would need to win outright or win on the first innings of the three-day Challenge at Napier's Nelson Park, and whichever team held the trophy aloft on Sunday afternoon wiould then get ready to host the next Challenge at their home ground in coming weeks, with results of the Zone 1, 3 and 4 competitions to determine each Challenger.

2023/24 Zone 2 Challenge at Napier's Nelson Park


Lean, mean bowling machine Liam Dudding headed into this match fresh off six-wicket bags in each of his last two appearances for Hawke's Bay at Furlong Cup level.

Now he stepped it up in the Hawke Cup Challenge, in a match in which the paceman would grab another two bags to finish with a startling 11 wickets for the match.

Hawke's Bay captain Angus Schaw won the toss on Friday morning and promptly put Manawatū into bat at Nelson Park, and it took his in-form opening strikeman just three balls to collect his first scalp as Dudding had Manawatū youngster Jerome Robinson caught in the first overr.

Towards the end of the opening day, in the 84th over, Dudding would take the last wicket to fall as well, finishing with a haul of 6/56 off 18.5 overs as Hawke's Bay dismissed their opponent for 198.

Keeper Bayley Wiggins had caught three of them, and also took a catch off Ben Stoyanoff to stop his fellow Stag Curtis Heaphy (48) from reaching a half ton.

Heaphy and a doughty Arana Noema-Barnett had fought hard to resurrect the Manawatū innings from a rocky early start, at 2/2 after Brett Johnson had run out Mason Hughes in a another big blow.

Heaphy and Noema-Barnett put on 75 for the third wicket, almost getting through to lunch. But Noema-Barnett had finally succumbed just before the break, caught off Dudding for 45 at 77/3.

Dane Cleaver joined Heaphy after the interval but was a big quick loss in the first dig, that man Dudding celebrating again as Wiggins gleefully snaffled the catch.

Heaphy ground on for another 22 overs, with help from Tim McGrath, before departing and handing over the baton to captain Bevan Small.

The always calm and composed Small settled in to begin work before tea, reaching 17* by the break and going on to top-score with a run-a-ball 51 in the last session.

He eventually fell to the golden arm spinner Jack Boyle, a big wicket at 186/8.

From there, Schaw and Dudding swooped in to wrap things up, and Hawke's Bay had 10 overs left in the day to get started on their own first innings.

But it didn't go all their way, with the busy Dudding heading in as nightwatchman after Boyle and Baylee Foote both exited early with Small claiming both wickets.

Brad Schmulian helped him hold the fort, Hawke's Bay 30/2 at stumps.


Manawatū skipper Small picked off where he left off in his all-round game, removing nightwatchman Dudding on the second morning and going on to a bag of his own for good measure.

But Hawke's Bay was up for the fight in the key innings. By lunch, they were 133/4, with the difficult to dislodge Schmulian having raised his bat for his fifty, and hcaving struck eight boundaries.

He got to 60 after lunch before Small had him caught, and Wiggins followed soon after at 142/6.

Now Manawatū had a decent chance of defending their first innings tally of 198, but Hawke's Bay was having  none of it. Despite the last four wickets falling at regular intervals, there was time enough for young Toby Findlay, who made his Plunket Shield debut in his sole appearance for the Stags last season, to larrop an unbeaten 58* off 83 balls to crucially push the Bay past Manawatū's tally.

He drove a 55-run 10th-wicket stand with Stoyanoff as Hawke's Bay finished on 249, a lead of 51 on the first innings.

By stumps, Manawatū was already three down in their second innings and the Hawke Cup holders were in an even stronger position. Dudding had all three wickets, now sitting on nine for the match.


Resuming at 33/3, Manawatū needed a big shift and Dane Cleaver gave it to them with a gutsy century, the Stag racing to an unbeaten 129* off just 117 balls on the final day.

But it wouldn't be enough.

Meanwhile, Dudding simply carried on his wicket-taking ways. He swiftly removed Noema-Barnett in the morning session, and despite spinner Schaw coming in for a handy 3/80 over the latter parts of the day, finished with a bag of 5/84 off 18 overs.

Who knows, Dudding, with a match analysis of 11/141) might have had another had Manawatū not declared at 251/9 - and that was when the captains shook hands. The Cup would stay in the Bay this time, while a host of Stags had enjoyed a solid workout ahead of resuming their Ford Trophy and Plunket Shield campaigns.







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