AUCKLAND ACES beat CENTRAL STAGS by six wickets
19 February 2021
Eden Park Outer Oval, Auckland
- 50th List A match for Will Young (Central Stags)
- List A debut for Cole Briggs (Auckland Aces)
- Record 1st wicket List A partnership for Central Stags v Auckland Aces (120 - previously 92 by George Worker/Ben Smith at New Plymouth 2017/18)
- Tom Bruce reached 1500 List A runs
- 3rd List A century for Sean Solia
- List A century on debut for Cole Briggs
- Record 1st wicket List A partnership for Auckland Aces against any team (226 - previously 208 by Martin Guptill/Glenn Phillips v Central Stags at Auckland 2016/17)
Four years ago Sean Solia (above) stood in the middle of Eden Park Outer Oval celebrating a wonderful maiden century on Ford Trophy debut. Yesterday he stood in the middle of the same ground watching 23-year-old Cole Briggs reach his own maiden century on debut - as the pair piled on a brilliant new Auckland Aces’ first wicket record of 226 together.
Allrounder Solia himself achieved his third List A hundred as the Central Stags’ evolving Eden Park Outer Oval hoodoo continued.
Back at the park exactly one week after dipping out in the Dream11 Super Smash Elimination Final against the Kings here, the Stags again won the toss, again batted first, again found some individuals to prop up a workable total — then again watched their opposition plaster on a startling record partnership to drive the game away from them.
And again, Ross Taylor made a duck. What are the chances.
Taylor will have a strong case to elect Outer Oval as his least favourite ground after having missed out in all three formats here this season ans with little to recommend itself in his previous forays here; but it was a wobbly performance with the ball with which the visitors will be most disappointed after seemingly having struggled to switch back to the line-and-length mode of one-day cricket.
Some exactitude was also missing as Briggs and Solia began building their extraordinary partnership - Briggs riding his luck with nervy and wayward edges that flew safely into the gaps, and even to the rope, before he grew in confidence and even slapped Ajaz Patel for a six to ruin the top spinner’s tight start.
The newbie opener reached his half century off 59 balls after drinks, Solia having got there already. Solia took charge early with his 49-ball half ton, a few keen spectators pressing to the rails outside on Sandringham Road in a match closed at the gate by Level 2 COVID protocols.
This was a bottom-of-the-table clash against the resurgent defending champions and a team that had had rotten luck with weather through the front half of the comp — but now the Stags had brought a near full-strength team to the sunny city, and had earlier put 309/7 on the board thanks to a CD record opening stand in their history against the Aces, one that was about to be utterly dwarfed by Briggs and Solia.
That record was the outcome of half centuries to both George Worker and Dane Cleaver who looked to have finally refound his touch after a tough summer; and it was followed up by a majestic unbeaten 96* from captain Tom Bruce who punched nine boundaries and two sixes in rollicking stands of 85 with Josh Clarkson (35) and 63 with Joey Field (31).
So far, so defendable - until Solia and Briggs began taking them apart. Solia shone with his clever strokeplay and had put Patel back over his head and onto the roof of a nearby house, necessitating a replacement ball in the 25th over.
Solia was the first to reach three figures, his teammates on their feet as he got there off 95 balls (12x4, 2x6) shortly before bringing up the unbroken 200-stand.
The tent was back up on their feet again soon after drinks as Briggs scampered a single for his maiden century, reaching his magic milestone in exactly 100 balls (7x4, 4x6).
And, throughout the monumental stand on a warm afternoon as the pitch obligingly flattened out for the hosts who were probably licking their lips at their good fortune, Stags heads were dropping and shoulders sinking with frustration.
The double century stand ended in the 35th over with a gift of a catch to Taylor on the Sandringham Road boundary, Briggs walking back in after almost three hours and with his side comfortably ahead of where they needed to be.
The Stags briefly revived themselves with a cluster of quick wickets, spinner Jayden Lennox snaffling a brace, but the damage had been done and the Aces were left needing just 16 off the last five overs with six wickets in hand. Ben Horne and Graeme Beghin guided them home at the start of the 48th.
Eden Park Outer Oval had once again shown its disdain for anything less than a disciplined performance with the white ball and the Stags will have 40-odd hours now to try to turn that around before Sunday’s Round 8 rematch, their playoff hopes dangling by a thread.