Ford Trophy round 2: SBS Bank Otago Volts 286-8 (Nathan McCullum 119, Robertson 62, Finnie 30 not out; Elliott 4-46) beat Wellington Firebirds (Papps 32, Franklin 98 not out, Elliott 35, Day 50) by 16 runs at Queenstown Events Centre
The SBS Bank Otago Volts remain unbeaten in the competition after 100-game veteran Nathan McCullum chose the perfect moment to deliver his maiden Ford Trophy century — setting up a close win for the Queenstown hosts over the defending champions.
The popular allrounder’s 119 from 109 balls hauled his side out of early trouble after they had been sent in by the Firebirds — pegged down to 65-4 by the 20th over. The Volts had started well enough, with Ryan Duffy, on Ford Trophy debut, cracking the first six of the innings off Mark Gillespie. The Volts steamed to a solid 50 inside 12 overs, but the damage was wreaked when Grant Elliott (4-46) revved up his arm: three Volts wickets tumbled in the space of four overs, including form horse Michael Bracewell.
With his rescue helmet on, McCullum built an entertaining 150-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Iain Robertson (62 off 67), their record stand breaking the mark of 143 set by Craig Cumming and McCullum himself in 2011/12.
More importantly to McCullum — who was standing in as Volts captain for the day (regular Aaron Redmond was unavailable due to the impending birth of a child), they made sure their side was able to rally to 286-8, assisted by a blazing 20-ball cameo from teenager Josh Finnie at the death that contributed a quick 30-run boost.
Likewise, Firebirds captain James Franklin held his side’s reply together with an unbeaten 98, assisted at first by his fighting lieutenant Elliott. Elliott’s wicket proved the key for the Volts, and Franklin was left having to battle for it as wickets fell too quickly around him. He was stranded unbeaten at the end, with the added pain of his side yet to register their first win in the new season. For Alecz Day, too, it was a bittersweet experience in the stunning surroundings, after smashing a 37-ball 50 on his Ford Trophy debut for no joy.
McCullum capped off his memorable day with three wickets at his side’s most impressive economy rate, and Sam Wells chipped in with another trio of scalps, helping to hold the Firebirds to 270-9.
Volts powerhouse Jesse Ryder had remained unavailable due to a back injury and had not been included in their squad, but it’s been an ideal beginning regardless for a side that sits a close second on the points table after two rounds.