Northern Districts lost to the Central Stags by 85 runs at Cobham Oval, Whangarei on 6 December 2017
The Central Stags became the first team to pick up a bonus point this season after a scorching midweek win away in sweltering Whangarei.
Bonus points are coveted items as they act as key tie-breakers on The Ford Trophy points table, ahead of net run rate, so the high-scoring 85-run win was literally a bonus for the side as they bounced back superbly from their opening round loss.
Speedster Adam Milne, spinner Ajaz Patel and their blossoming young paceman Blair Tickner all picked up three-fors but it was hot work on a belter as the mercury zoomed into the high twenties.
The win was set up by record-breaking form from Jesse Ryder and, welcomed back from BLACKCAPS Test squad, opener George Worker.
After captain Will Young won the toss, Worker batted into the 40th over and, after a brief fling with Dane Cleaver who again opened for the Stags, he was joined by Ryder to post the highest second wicket partnership in Central Stags one-day history: 205 runs.
The old Stags mark against allcomers was a mere 184 as Worker broke the record he already held with captain Young, set at Pukekura Park last summer and also against Northern Districts.
The hard-hitting strokemaker was in classic touch from the outset while Ryder settled in for a big one, then picked up the pace as the spinners came on and he charged towards his 11th List A century.
Worker narrowly missed out on yet another Ford Trophy ton of his own, caught on 96 (115 balls) — it would have been his 12th List A ton, but the important work was done, allowing the rest of a deep batting order to add the icing to a phenomenal platform of 232 for two.
Young slaughtered a straight six first ball in his brief stay before Tom Bruce and Doug Bracewell bashed a quick 50-stand off just 31 deliveries, contributions that proved very valuable later in the day as ND staged a gallant chase.
By the time the Stags had finished their turn, though, they had set a new Cobham Oval ground total for List A domestic cricket of 334/8, which is also the Stags’ 12th highest Ford Trophy total in their history. The only higher List A total that’s ever been scored on the Whangarei turf was the 372/6 that the BLACKCAPS smashed against Zimbabwe in the first ODI to be played there back in 2011/12.
In all, 583 runs were scored on one of the largest grounds in the country with the Stags’ top six combining to smash 11 sixes out of the ground on their own (among 20 for the match), including a Ryder special that brought up his commanding century off just 94 balls (9 x 4, 3 x 6).
Needless to say it was an forgettable day for most of the bowling attack bending their back in sweltering conditions, Scott Kuggeleijn impressing as he managed to return a nippy 1-43 off his 10 overs.
He would come to the aid of his team with the bat, too, after the Stags made an ideal start with two early wickets to Milne have ND on their toes at 13 for two.
BJ Watling remained standing and with his recent form and truckload of success at this ground, he was the big wicket all the Stags wanted. It was Tickner who got him, Ajaz Patel racing in to rescue the catch after Watling popped up an edge, and Tickner lost his footing running back for a caught and bowled.
Tim Seifert and Anton Devcich departed soon after and at 74 for five ND didn’t look on course to threaten the Stags’ record tally — yet a serious of late middle order partnerships brought their quest back into the realm of possibility.
Kuggeleijn put on 52 for the sixth wicket with Daryl Mitchell, operating positively at run-a-ball pace until Milne came back into the attack and stopped him on 32.
Mitchell would go on to a half century at a similar clip, hard hitting Brett Hampton (25 off 24) and BLACKCAP Ish Sodhi taking turns to provide him with buoyant partnerships to keep the required momentum going as they chased 10 per over.
Despite the hefty target, ND fought back hard and at times there will have been a few nerves in the Stags camp, particularly when Mitchell and Sodhi carved 23 off the 37th, Sodhi smashing his unbeaten 44 off just 24 balls and even number eleven Brent Arnel getting in one the six-smashing action.
In the end it would be just 85 runs too far for ND, Mitchell’s loss on 52 having helped the Stags keep the pressure on before wrapping things up in the 44th over.
Burger King Super Smash is now just around the corner but before then the Stags will look forward to hosting the unbeaten Otago Volts at Pukekura Park this Sunday, while ND heads to Canterbury looking to get back on the horse.