Dane Cleaver carried his bat for a special maiden century. All images: MButcher/CDCA

Volts zapped by Cleaver maiden ton


Central Stags defeated the Otago Volts at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth on 10 December 2017


Fresh from setting a domestic List A record total at Cobham Oval with a record second wicket stand midweek, the Stags continued their impressive winning ways at Pukekura Park —  but this time it wasn't the usual suspects behind their successful run chase as they handed the Volts their first defeat of the season.

Dane Cleaver had a day to remember in a memorable home win, the wicketkeeper-batsman getting involved in the entire match on a sweltering New Plymouth day.

Opening the batting for only the third time for the Stags, Cleaver carried his bat for a match-winning maiden List A century — a run-a-ball 124.

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Dane Cleaver had a day to remember in a memorable home win, the wicketkeeper-batsman getting involved in the entire match on a sweltering New Plymouth day.

Previously pigeon-holed as a hard-hitting belter down the order behind the kind of line-up that didn’t often require him to provide much in the way of innings construction, Cleaver showed he indeed had another string to his batting bow at this level with a well paced innings that helped the Stags steadily recover from the shock loss of both George Worker and Jesse Ryder in the opening overs, and then their accomplished Taranaki-ites Will Young and Tom Bruce, too, to power home for a three-wicket win regardless.

Cleaver’s previous best had been 77 against the Aces at Eden Park Outer Oval last summer, and came after the Stags had been asked to bowl first on a used deck.

The Volts’ late order had got away on them, the net result being that they needed to chase down 287 for seven — a not insurmountable target at their white ball home ground, but made more challenging after their uncustomary rocky start with the bat.

At the midpoint of their chase, WASP decided the Stags still only had a three per cent chance of stopping the so far unbeaten Volts from whistling to three-zip from the first three Ford Trophy matches of the summer, however, even after Tom Bruce went six and out — the Stags now in more trouble at 36 for four — Cleaver shared a steady succession of partnerships.

Doug Bracewell (35 off 32) almost got to a 50-stand with Cleaver before Volts captain Rob Nicol stepped in with the first of two very helpful wickets for his side.

Then big Josh Clarkson (32 off 40, below) stayed for 13 overs to add a pivotal 74 for the sixth wicket before Nicol had the powerful youngster caught behind on the cusp of the 30-over mark.

With the Stags 156 for six, still 132 runs behind at this point, Nicol would have felt his side was right back in it. However, the Stags’ deep late order got behind Cleaver as he eased past his previous career best and started picking up the pace in the last 10 overs of a sweat-sapping afternoon.

Ben Wheeler contributed a run-a-ball 31 and a 75-run stand, during which Cleaver reached three figures to the thorough delight of his teammates— before Jacob Duffy (below) got through Wheeler’s defences.

However, the momentum wasn't stopped as the Volts had to then watch Adam Milne stroll in and punch up an unbeaten 34 off just 23 balls.

The finish line was coming into view, and the Stags ultimately polished off the chase with a few overs to spare for a fine win.

Along with the Aces’ shock defeat at the hands of the Firebirds up north, it carried the Stags to the top of The Ford Trophy ladder while the Volts will be left scratching their heads as to how they let their hosts off the hook after such a heartening start.

Earlier, the southerners had made a solid recovery of their own after losing both openers early to Wheeler (below) who, along with Bracewell, completed a good double with three wickets for the match.

Neil Broom (55) looked comfortable and threatening as he raised his bat for a half century, but was undone by Bracewell shortly afterwards.

Anaru Kitchen likewise loomed large until he was bowled by Bracewell just one short of his half ton.

Dependable Derek de Boorder added a rearguard unbeaten 56 at quick pace, however, sharing a key, 102-run unbroken stand with Michael Rippon who smashed 61 off just 32 balls, including half a dozen sixes, at the death to dent the Stags’ mood heading into the lunch break.

The Ford Trophy now goes into remission until late January 2018, resuming at the completion of Burger King Super Smash which begins this Wednesday afternoon.

The Stags are off to Eden Park Outer Oval for their opening T20 to pit themselves against the Aces while the Volts are away to the Kings the following day at Hagley Oval.

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