Round 4 Ford Trophy: Canterbury 335/5 (Nicholls 89, Broom 50, Ellis 66 not out, Astle 83; Nethula 3-65) beat the Mondiale Auckland Aces (Kitchen 47, Bates 44 not out) by 65 runs at Aorangi Oval, Timaru
Form went out the window at Timaru’s Aorangi Oval as previously winless Canterbury overcame the previously unbeaten Mondiale Auckland Aces by a comfortable margin. What’s more, none of the Aces’ batsmen broke 50 as they chased Canterbury’s 335/6 — quite the turn-up.
Canterbury won the toss and, after a brief delay for a passing shower, their form opener Henry Nicholls was into his work straight away, taking 16 (including three boundaries from the first four balls) off Michael Bates’ opening over. His 89 was a new career best and both Nicholls and Neil Broom (50) each scored their third consecutive half-century of the competition — posting their 100 partnership at exactly run-a-ball pace.
Having got Canterbury into a healthy position at midway, a mid-innings wobble saw Canterbury pegged back a little to 166-5 at the 30-over mark, before the solid early work was eventually backed up by a career best 83 from Todd Astle and unbeaten 66 from Andy Ellis. The latter duo began calmly and coolly, before stepping up at the death to smash a new Canterbury record for the sixth wicket against the Aces of 133, breaking a mark that had been set by their coach, Gary Stead, and Mark Priest in 1998/99.
For the Aces, the early loss of form horses Martin Guptill (4) and Craig Cachopa (0) would prove not only destabilising, but ultimately critical as Canterbury continued to exert the pressure. It was the same experienced firm of Astle & Ellis Ltd that did the major damage with the ball — after Peter Fulton had lifted spirits with a stunning, diving one-handed catch at mid-on in the second over to dismiss Guptill, off Ryan McCone.
Fulton pulled off another goodie when he scampered to snaffle a miscue from Colin Munro on 22. Trying to haul in a required run rate of over 10 runs an over, he and his fellow big hitter Colin de Grandhomme had seemed intent on rescuing the Aces from their predicament, de Grandhomme blasting 38 from 20 before he was stopped in his tracks by a direct hit from Ronnie Hira at the non-striker’s end.
Michael Bates (a career best 44 off 29 balls) and young Matt Quinn (23 off 34) put on a gallant show for the last stand — an unbroken 65, which was a new 10th wicket record for the Aces against allcomers. But it was all in vain as the required run rate had by now been steepling far too far ahead of them, an impossible 74 needed off the last over before Canterbury wrapped up a heartening comeback for the home crowd.