WEDNESDAY 5 FEBRUARY 2020
WELLINGTON FIREBIRDS beat CENTRAL STAGS by 118 runs
• Basin Reserve | Wellington
How do you get him out early? That's the burning question around the traps after Devon Conway pasted his second Ford Trophy century of 2019/20, in the space of four games as the Firebirds.
Laying the ground for a crucial win, victory propelled the Firebirds into the top three, with just round to play, while the Stags exited stage left as the first team to fall from contention.
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It was Conway's fifth consecutive List A score of 50 or better, and sixth from nine games in this hot summer.
Sent in by Stags captain Tom Bruce in a weather-delayed match at the Basin that was reduced to 46 overs per side before the sun popped out, the compact first drop now has 552 runs for the season at a superb 60+ average.
After the loss of debutant Luke Georgeson - a maiden List A wicket for Ray Toole, Conway and Andrew Fletcher (70) poured on a 114-run stand for the second wicket to shore up the Firebirds' position.
Left-armer Toole (2-31 off eight) had replaced Doug Bracewell in the 12 after the latter was scratched with a niggle, and swung round and stooped to gobble up a caught and bowled chance in his fifth Ford Trophy match.
It was the first and last breakthrough for the next 18 overs as Conway and Fletcher combined.
Eventually, a disguised change of pace from Kieran Noema-Barnett led to a Conway miscue, but by then he'd sailed to 112 off just 89 balls (8x4, 3x6).
His second List A century came off just 84 balls and, when new man Fraser Colson slapped a cheeky unbeaten 59* off a mere 25 balls, the Stags' day just got worse.
Colson ensured the hosts batted out for a solid 293 for five off the 46 overs, leaving their opponents with an asking rate of more than run a ball.
Despite having regained the services of captain Tom Bruce and Ajaz Patel for the must-win, the inconsistent white-ball season carried on for the Stags - the Firebirds reducing them to 48 for four inside the first 17 overs of the chase.
Bruce had taken on Peter Younghusband's renowned arm looking for what should have been a comfortable third run, while Logan van Beek, Iain McPeake and part-time spinner Michael Bracewell (a career best 3-30) had ripped through the rest of the top order.
Kieran Noema-Barnett's form with both bat and ball has been a godsend of the injury-hit squad, and he combined with Josh Clarkson in another fighting knock looking to rescure them again.
By the 30-over mark the veteran had reached 67, but with plenty of work still to do - his side needing an RPO of almost 11.
Noema-Barnett had swiped Younghusband for two big sixes back over the leg-spinner's head, but after he lost partner Clarkson - playing on against Ben Sears (3-42) at 119 for five, Noema-Barnett himself was gone next over for no further advance, an easy grab for Younghusband after he mistimed Jamie Gibson.
With two new men in the middle and an asking rate of 13, that looked like curtains for the Stags in white-ball cricket this season and indeed it was, bowled out for 175 in just the 39th over.