Things happened quicker for ND | MBUTCHER

Northern exposure for Central Stags

Video Highlights



Cobham Oval, Whangārei

Northern Districts 4 points




All images MBUTCHER

In challenging conditions, Northern Districts returned to the top of The Ford Trophy in their last outing before Dream11 Super Smash... with a T20 rematch looming between these two sides in Hamilton.

Defending champion the Central Stags missed a shot at claiming the top spot on the table for themselves, in a tepid match in which batters, fielders and spinners on both sides had to fight the strong wind, and a variable surface that wasn't easy to get in on.

Given all that, the Stags will have had that sinking feeling, at lunch, that 185 was just too light on the board.

The day started well enough for the visitors with captain Dane Cleaver having won the toss and electing to bat, but the early loss of both openers was a setback - both caught as they tried to play expansively, off Scott Kuggeleijn (2/32) and Kristian Clarke (3/25).

Cleaver got a bottom edge against Brett Hampton at 29/3 and once again, for the injury-hit Stags, the onus fell on their youngish middle order to dig them out of a hole.

Will Clark and Curtis Heaphy had been successful at that in their last two wins, and newbie Heaphy - playing at the ground for the first time, again went on to a half century.

Josh Clarkson and Will Clark (34) - coming off back-to-back half tons, got starts as well.

Will Clark | MBUTCHER

Clarkson was making his first appearance since having been named in the BLACKCAPS squad, and was working the singles, with Heaphy, to lift the run rate before Tim Pringle suddenly stopped him in tracks with a beauty when he was on 20.

Heaphy was reunited with Clark at 77/4, when the Stags were almost at the halfway point of their overs, a testament to how difficult it was to latch on for the boundary.

All day, the flapping gusts of wind woud carry catches just over fieldsmen's fingers, and buffet the spinners at an annoying transeverse angle. A six could be turned into a catch at the mercy of the gusty conditions.

ND's spin twins, Joe Walker and Pringle, did a good job, and built some good pressure as Heaphy (55 off 105 balls) neared his second half century from his three List A innings to date.

He'd weathered some good heat from quick Matt Fisher (above), and was quick as a rabbit between the wickets, but ran himself out with a suicide single just when the time was ripe for the Stags to try to assert some more pressure themselves.

Clark carried on for a half dozen overs with Bayley Wiggins for the sixth wicket, before Fisher and Clarke combined to take a clump of three wickets in the space of six balls, and no runs scored as the Stags nosedived from 148/5 in the 42nd over to 148/8.

Hawke's Bay captain Angus Schaw (21), who had come in for a third List A appearance since his debut last summer, battled hard through the death and was the last to fall, off the last ball of the innings, going for the obligatory boundary.

Northern's innings would also often progress at a snail's pace, but starts from their top order made all the difference to the pressure.

Katene Clarke (43) and Tim Seifert (40) frustrated the Stags for almost the first 19 overs, with the new ball not doing a lot.

Allrounder Clark finally sent both of then on their way before the Stags' spinners started to get somewhere with the ball.

Angus Schaw (0/36, below) bowled tidily, and deserved a maiden wicket - but more than once, the wind carried catches just beyond the fielder's reach, with Bayley Wiggins frustrated in the deep not to be able to give his Hawke's Bay teammate his first Stags wicket.

Henry Cooper's 30 and Joe Carter's 48 were invaluable knocks from the hosts, the pair getting starts and springing into a 78-run stand.

It was effectively the winning of the match. The Stags' attack rallied late, and took a flurry of wickets to at least deny Northern a bonus point and stretch the light chase into the 43rd over, and six wickets down.

Jayden Lennox appeals | MBUTCHER

There was a fright towards the end all-round, when the sprinklers unexpectedly came on while the teams were still playing. Had they soaked the pitch, the teams would have been off. Cue players rushing to put their feet on the nozzles.

After the short interruption, Tim Pringle larroped a six to get it over and done with. Northern had braved the day for a comfortable victory with 7.5 overs to spare while the Stags were still stuck mid-table, with the back five rounds of the competition to resume in early February.

Northern and Central will soon meet again, however, with the teams set to meet in one of the early round of Dream11 Super Smash, in Hamilton under lights on Friday 22 December.






Asahi CCC Dream11 Dulux Ford Gillette GJ Gardner KFC Life Direct Pals Powerade Spark Spark