Challenge Match - Zone 1
[Holder] Hawke's Bay beat [Challenger] Hamilton outright by 8 wickets
Nelson Park, Napier
Friday 12 - Sunday 14 March 2021
- Hawke's Bay will host the opening Challenge match of 2021/22 -
Big rivals in recent seasons, Hawke Cup holders Hawke's Bay banished bad memories of a visit to Hamilton's Galloway Park two years ago with a solid first defence of their recently reacquired prize.
Hawke's Bay had uplifted the Hawke Cup from North Otago in Oamaru two weeks earlier, but headed into battle again at Nelson Park under a new skipper, with regular captain Angus Schaw unavailable due to a wedding.
Central Stags left-arm spinner Jayden Lennox took the armband this time around and had no hesitation in sending a strong Hamilton side into bat after drought-breaking heavy rain in Napier the previous day.
Lennox was one of five first-class Central Stags players lining up for the strong Hawke's Bay side - alongside legspinning batsman Brad Schmulian, allrounder Christian Leopard, and pace bowlers Liam Dudding and Ben Stoyanoff who opened the attack; Bayley Wiggins also having played white-ball at the top of the order for the Central Stags.
Dudding quickly picked up two early wickets in his opening spell against a fired-up Hamilton side that meanwhile included three Northern Districts representatives: spinning allrounder and former BLACKCAP Anton Devcich, keeper-batsman Peter Bocock, and spinner and Hamilton captain, Freddy Walker; as well as the brother of BLACKCAP Mitch Santner, Elliot Santner who had caused Hawke's Bay so much grief with the bat the last time around.
Santner was Dudding's first victim early doors and, by lunch on the first day, they were four down, Devcich and Pocock with a big job ahead as they resumed after the break.
But all the Hamilton line-up found the going tough in the conditions, the top individual score just 24 as Dudding helped himseld to a five-wicket bag (5-46) in just 15.5 overs, while Lennox was happy to bowl himself to help out with a lean 4-15 off his eight overs.
Dismissed for 113 inside 43 overs, Hamillton had a wicket before tea in reply, but the hosts made the better start in the first innings.
By stumps, Hawke's Bay was 111/3, on the cusp of chalking up the all-important first innings lead that would ensure the Cup was retained in the event of a draw.
With Schmulian and Leopard at the crease, the Bay motored on into the lead on the second morning, Schmulian going on to top-score with 70 in Hawke's Bay's first-innings total of 232 in 99 overs.
Hamilton could take heart from Nick Farrell picking up a five-wicket bag of his own (5-46), with fellow opening bowler Cooper Rowell claiming 4-58, but the hosts had got away on them.
By stumps, Hamilton was in an even more difficult position after having lost six second-innings wickets for 166 runs - a slender net 47-run lead, but not enough batting left for their comfort heading into the decisive day.
But as Sunday morning rolled around, Hamilton's late order scrapped hard. Captain Freddy Walker - one of the overnight batsmen - carried on for a top score of 61, off just 76 balls.
He found support from both Jacob Parker (43) and Josh Brown (an unbeaten 53* off 46 balls) as they rallied and pushed the total up to 280 - before Schmulian spun them out in the 80th over, Dudding meanwhile having taken a further three wickets to finish with eight for the match.
That set Hawke's Bay a last afternoon chase of 161 for an outright.
An aggressive unbeaten century by the young Wiggins sealed it with ease, Wiggins finishing unbeaten on 107* off just 115 balls as he guided his side home to an eight-wicket outright - hitting the winning runs in style with his third six.
Hawke's Bay will now lock up the silverware at Napier's Nelson Park for the winter, until the next Challenge match rolls around in January 2022.