The Central Stags went in as favourites, but a jolted Canterbury line-up under a stand-in captain stood up for the win in ROUND ONE Ford Trophy in Rangiora, 15 January 2017
How it happened
• Canterbury’s first hurdle appeared before the toss was even made, Ford Trophy captain Andrew Ellis having been ruled out with a fractured thumb in training. With a ready-made stand-in in the long-serving Peter Fulton, finding a replacement leader wasn’t an issue — but to an attack that had already lost Ed Nuttall (shoulder) for the campaign, losing Ellis’ skill with the white ball was a blow.
• Things got worse for Canterbury on that front when young pace bowler Kyle Jamieson also broke down after just 2.5 overs, with a side injury. Add to all that the fact that they had been asked to bowl first on a hot, sunny day in Rangiora against one of the best batting line-ups in the country and it no doubt it all left them feeling grateful they at least had the services of Matt Henry while the BLACKCAPS Test side battled Bangladesh at the Basin.
• Henry struck early, but the Stags quickly picked themselves up from the loss of Ben Smith to make what panned out as a top drawer start, George Worker and Jesse Ryder slathering on a Central second wicket record stand against the Cantabs of 123, breaking a mark that had been set by Mathew Sinclair and Craig Spearman.
• Fringe BLACKCAP Worker, one of 2015/16’s stars with a big century in the Grand Final, brought up the Stags’ 100 in the 23rd over by murdering a six over square off Tim Johnston. Worker would have been pleased to have again batted through to the 40th over, at which point the Stags were almost at 200 and with the swish opener himself looking good to become the first centurion of 2017.
• Except, Worker didn’t get the chance to go nuts because he was caught behind off Todd Astle on 90 (off 109 balls). Ryder (68 off 82, during which he posted his 5000th List A run) had already gone some 13 overs beforehand, shortly before Worker reached his own 50; and then there was a bit of a middle order shocker for the Stags as they lost both captain Will Young and new BLACKCAP Tom Bruce cheaply. Young’s dismissal was particularly spectacular, not only hitting his wicket as he went back to Astle, but doing it with such style that his off stump went cartwheeling to silly point.
• 162/3 on the board and proven depth meant the Stags could afford to keep their cool, knowing there was plenty of batting to come. After Worker’s work was done, Dane Cleaver carried on and rustled up a quick 36 with 19-year-old bomb hitter Josh Clarkson, who helped cream 16 runs off the 44th over, T20 styles.
• Clarkson was en route to slamming his maiden Ford Trophy half century — an unbeaten 70 off just 43 balls, taking the Stags to 296 for six in their 50 overs. He reached his milestone fifty with a six, then promptly whacked another to celebrate.
• Henry had proved the hardest to get away as what was left of the Canterbury attack banded together, but it would be the batting that won the day. Just.
• Both Canterbury openers — Jack Boyle, playing at the same ground where he had made his last minute first-class debut earlier in the season; and Chad Bowes — were on Ford Trophy debut.
• For Boyle, it was also his List A debut, while Bowes had already played 17 List A matches for Kwa Zulu-Natal in South African cricket. Bowes would become the first of four wickets to fall to BLACKCAP Ben Wheeler, who picked up a List A career best of 4-51, but for Boyle it was a solid entrance with a careful 43 off 59 before a triple-juggled catch by keeper Dane Cleaver — the last of them a ricochet off the batsman’s leg — brought spinner Marty Kain a remarkable wicket, alas for the disappointed Canterbury debutant who probably won’t forget it either.
• Captain Fulton delivered at his home ground with a run-a-ball half century before he was outfoxed by Seth Rance at 121/3; Cole McConchie chimed in with 36 and Astle top-scored in a team effort with 60, having shared an 80-run stand with McConchie for the fourth wicket. But it was Cameron Fletcher who take the heat at the death as the result hung in the balance.
• It had been one of those nervy chases where you were never quite sure who was ahead, Canterbury having still needed another 132 runs off the last 20 overs, then 100 off the last 15. It was going to need courage under fire, Astle reaching the end of his tenure when there was still 61 to get.
• Then Henry Shipley was quickly trapped by Wheeler, and Logan van Beek handed Blair Tickner his second wicket not long after. The defending champions now had a sniff of bowling Canterbury out, but two notable obstacles remained in Cam Fletcher and Matt Henry.
• Needing 21 off the last three over, it was Fletcher’s composure that brought it home in the Rangiora sunshine, helped by a torrid Henry cameo after Wheeler removed Tim Johnston in the final over and an untimely no ball.
• Fletcher finished unbeaten, celebrating with a run-a-ball 42 as Canterbury got up in the face of adversity, to 297 for eight, in the last over, with four balls to spare, for a two-wicket nailbiter of a win.
The Stags will now look for their first win against the Wellington Firebirds in Napier on Wednesday, while Canterbury heads to Seddon Park looking to keep it going against ND. Tickets at the gate for Napier ($10 adults, $5 kids); free entry at Seddon Park; both matches starting at 11am.