Northern Districts v Canterbury at Cobham Oval, Whangarei, 9-12 March 2018
Batting Bonus Points: Canterbury 0 (completed), 4 (maximum achieved)
Bowling Bonus Points: Northern Districts 4 (maximum achieved), Canterbury 1 (completed)
The arrival of ex-cyclone Hola overnight saw no further play possible in Whangarei; the match declared a draw. With the Central Stags meanwhile having pressed ahead on the points table in Auckland, the result means that there will be a new Plunket Shield champion for 2017/18, last season's winners Canterbury dropping out of contention.
Northern Districts continued defending champion Canterbury’s season of misery by piling on an ND record opening stand of 278 and declaring with a 216-run first-innings lead.
Having resumed at 81 without loss, opening batsmen Daniel Flynn (a cracking 157 off 177) and Northland local Henry Cooper (a career-best 136 off 189) both secured centuries, then edged past the previous ND first wicket record of 274 that had been set by Brad Wilson and BJ Watling against the Firebirds at this same venue in 2010/11.
The opening stand was also a new ground record for Cobham Oval and a new ND record against Canterbury, eclipsing that mark of 174 set by Flynn and Dean Brownlie at Hagley Oval last season.
Flynn’s century was the veteran's 21st of his first-class career (20 for Northern Districts, one for New Zealand A) while 24-year-old Henry Cooper, the son of former ND captain Barry Cooper, produced his second first-class century after his maiden effort last season in Auckland (101).
ND declared four down after just 75 thumping overs, and had Canterbury 141 for two by stumps, the visitors still trailing by 75 runs.
ND allrounder Daryl Mitchell claimed his 50th first-class wicket when he dismissed Chad Bowes on 93, however, Cyclone Hola is likely to impact chances of play on the final day today.
ND seamer Jimmy Baker swept to his second five-wicket bag on the bounce as Canterbury continued to battle up north.
It was the 30-year-old Hamiltonian’s fifth first-class five-wicket bag from his 54 appearances, netting 5-52 to back up his performance in Auckland the previous week.
Canterbury had struggled through to 193 all out, Michael Pollard falling two runs shy of a half century when play eventually got underway, the entire morning session lost to wet weather and an early lunch taken.
Cam Fletcher and Andrew Ellis (30) were forced into a difficult recovery job down the order, before Baker began mopping up the tail in rapid fashion, leaving Fletcher stranded on an unbeaten 41 and Canterbury back in the hutch before tea.
By stumps, ND’s reply had got off to a more promising start, 81 without loss with Daniel Flynn heading into day three on 46* and local lad Henry Cooper assisting with 29*.
Northland’s damp weather delayed the start between the Plunket Shield’s struggling defending champions and mid-table hosts Northern Districts, and rain would likewise curtail the play on the stop-start opening day with only 41.4 overs possible.
It was long enough for ND to pick up a couple of bowling bonus points after visiting skipper Andrew Ellis had decided to bat first, the Canterbury top order trio all falling cheaply before another rain interruption.
When the weather stopped play altogether for the day in just the middle session, Canterbury number four Michael Pollard needed just four further runs to post a half century in his 50th first-class appearance, having done the lion’s share of the batting with Canterbury heading in at 115 for five.