Warning: Danger | PHOTOSPORT

Dunner stunner as ND takes outright lead

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University of Otago Oval, Dunedin

15-18 November, 2023



Total points this round:

Otago Volts 5

Northern Districts 16


Llew Johnson : first-class debut

Scott Kuggeleijn : 100 first-class matches

Luke Georgeson : career-best bowling 4/33

Joe Carter : 4000 first-class career runs

Jacob Duffy : 12th first-class bag and 250 wickets for Otago Volts

Jacob Duffy : Otago Volts leading wicket-taker across all formats

Jacob Duffy: nine wickets in a match

Brett Hampton : career-best bowling 7/41 (previous best 5/67), second first-class bag

All images: PHOTOSPORT

Brett Hampton's career-best seven-for lit up a fast-moving first-class contest in Dunedin as the northern visitors looked to stay unbeaten at the midway mark of the championship. Could the Volts throw a spanner in those plans - even without new captain Dean Foxcroft, who was absent on family matters? One thing was for sure: with rain affecting the other two concurrent games - the Firebirds and Aces drawing in Auckland, and the Stags and Canterbury in Napier, all eyes were on the Volts to see if they could keep everyone's rival, ND, in check. The Northern men had headed into the match tied at the top of the table. Now, they had a chance to go clear.


At home for the second match on the bounce, the Volts were fresh off an encouraging performance - albeit a loss, in their previous match at Uni Oval, against the Central Stags.

The Stags had won by 50 runs and now they were ultimately in for a tight battle on the final day. But first things first: let's start at the beginning.

The Volts had already lost to Northern Districts once this season, a heavy defeat in their first round in Hamilton; and were hovering at fifth spot in the table as they readied to face the unbeaten early leaders of the 2023/24 championship again.

The Volts were forced to make a sudden change to their planning after Dean Foxcroft, their new captain this summer, had to make himself unavailable, the night before the game.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Max Chu took over the armband at the last minute as the Volts looked to round off their pre-Christmas phase of the four-day championship on a winning note.

Chu won the toss, putting Jeet Raval's men in - and what a positive start that proved to be for the southern hosts.

By lunch, Northern was six down already, with just 116 on the board. Jacob Duffy had feasted in the first session, making big in-roads at the top by taking out three of the top four.

Things continued to go south for ND: the final four wickets fell for the addition of just one run. Luke Georgeson had struck off consecutive deliveries in the 34th over, a double wicket maiden for the paceman who went on to chalk up a new career best again this season, 4/33 as he wrapped up the innings in his next over.

Matt Bacon had removed the threat of Scott Kuggeleijn in the interim, Kuggeleijn in his 100th first-class appearance. He top-scored with a quick and desperate 36.

It was the host's day. By stumps, they were in the lead already at 200/5, after a knock of 70 - at almost a run-a-ball clip - from first drop Dale Phillips, who had got the response humming.

Still, the Volts had not had it all their own way on Day One. ND allrounder Brett Hampton would head back to his dressing room at the end of it contemplating the prospect of a second career bag.

He'd ended the day on superb overnight figures of 4/26, Kuggeleijn the other successful bowler, having removed dangerous young Thorn Parkes.


Hampton kept up the heat as he carried on to nail his second first-class bag in the Plunket Shield - and added a couple of extra wickets for his first seven-wicket haul.

Things were happening quickly. By lunch, ND was already 36/2 off 14 overs in their second innings, the match galloping along at a cracking pace.

Bacon had trapped Henry Cooper in just his second over before the break, then Duffy kept Chu busy behind the stumps - the keeper running backwards, halfway to the boundary, in order to catch a big, skied steepler off ND captain Raval.

It was more fine work from the stand-in skipper. He'd already been responsible for three takes in the first innings, and those had included a very good catch off Wagner.

The old Bay of Plenty firm of Bharat Popli and Joe Carter now had an important recovery job to do for their team. They got starts together as they set about the third wicket.

With six boundaries - and a six, Popli reached his half century before kingpin Duffy bounced him out with the score at 82/3: ND still with another 42 runs to pick off for the lead.

Carter recombined with Tim Seifert for a promising fourth wicket stand, but the Volts snuffed that out before tea, too. Carter remained, and ploughed on to a patient half century after the interval. Kuggeleijn gave him some support for a while and by stumps ND was leading by 150 runs, four wickets still in hand.


It was a frustrating day for all concerned, the scoreboard not moving once as rain set in. Carter remained parked on his overnight 83*, ND 273/6. Now it was all down to the final day and no doubt, again, the mercy of the weather, with a front sweeping the country.


When play finally resumed, the new ball was just about due - and Duffy (6/89) was poised to make good use of it, on his way to nine for the match.

He'd already removed Raval, Popli and Kuggeleijn, and now he was about to take a further three ND wickets to wrap up the innings on 336.

Hampton (caught off Bacon) had already gone when he got the big wicket of Carter, painfully trapped on 98 as Duffy artfully angled it across. More than seven hours at the crease, and the prospect of a well earned century gone, just like that.

Carter had strung together valuable partnerships for his team, the last of them with Neil Wagner who himself added value with a quick and brazen 40. Those runs were to prove key to Northern's fate, later in the afternoon.

Now the Volts needed a chase of 214 to win, with most of the day to get them. But by lunch, they were already vulnerable at 34/3 thanks to Kuggeleijn and Wagner's opening spells.

Change bowler Zak Gibson removed Jacob Cumming after the break, then spinner Joe Walker ended Llew Johnson's contributions on red-ball debut at 77/5 in the 28th over.

Around the country, there was eyes on the online scoring - primarily in Sandringham and Napier South. Could the Volts manage to scrape a win, surely, chasing just a further 137 to stop ND bolting?

Well, no. Wagner had other ideas. The Test bowler was fired up with the scent of the battle, and a fired-up Wagner is a dangerous creature.

Georgeson fought hard, and would remain unbeaten on 65*. But the Volts missed Foxcroft's class. When Gibson broke the hour-long stand between Georgeson and Chu, the door was all but open for Wagner to attack the tail.

Defence was in the air as Ben Lockrose fought for a good hour or so for his 26, before Gibson (3/46) had him caught by Wagner in the last session at 170/7. That became 171/8 when Wagner zeroed in on the top off Duffy's off stump.

He steamed in to remove the final two wickets of his old team as well, with as much joy and elation as if he'd just beaten Australia in a Test match at the SCG.

ND had done it. The only winner in a weather-bothered fourth round, they had collected the extra 12 points for the tight outright win and with it, held an 11-point lead on the table over the Firebirds, a lead they would take with them until the end of February 2024 when the back half of the championship would begin.


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