Central Stags v Auckland Aces at Saxton Oval, Nelson, 30 October-2 November 2017
Points from this round: Central Stags 20, Auckland Aces 7
The Central Stags completed their first outright win of the season with a session to spare as the Auckland Aces, one man short after Lockie Ferguson’s fractured finger, folded 256 runs shy of their final day target.
The day had started with the luckless Aces requiring a further 366 runs with eight — effectively seven — second innings wickets remaining.
As had been the pattern throughout the encounter, wickets came early for the seamers in humid and overcast conditions. The ball was keeping low at times, and the fired-up Stags attack did well to exploit the conditions, trapping both Aces skipper Michael Guptill-Bunce (32) and Michael Barry early doors with Seth Rance (2-31) claiming wickets (and a wicket maiden) in successive overs.
Facing a tall order, the middle order of Mark Chapman (13), Craig Cachopa (24) and Ben Horne (46) didn’t give in as they all fought hard for their runs, Cachopa in particular digging in with the younger Horne.
However, the Stags would leap into the air when Ajaz Patel broke through the stand with his wicket just two overs before lunch, bowled after having survived almost two hours.
If the writing wasn’t already on the wall for the visitors, it was now — and it went into capital letters when another couple of wickets fell quickly after the break, this time both to Doug Bracewell (2-35).
Horne would be the last to depart after a valiant 46 as spinner Patel took his wicket tally to 13 at the completion of three rounds, the Aces calling it a day at 169 for nine.
The winless Aces have a chance to bounce back when they return home to play the Otago Volts at Eden Park Outer Oval next week, while the Stags are off to Hagley Oval looking to keep defending champions Canterbury below them on the early season points table.
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Batting Bonus Points: Central Stags 4 (maximum achieved); Auckland Aces 3 (completed)
Bowling Bonus Points: Auckland Aces 4 (maximum achieved); Central Stags 4 (maximum achieved)
The Central Stags dismissed the Aces for 349 (the Aucklanders just one run short of a fourth bonus point) to take a 123-run lead into the second innings... and then the real fun began.
Doug Bracewell, Blair Tickner and Seth Rance all pocketed three-fors from the first innings before spinner Ajaz Patel chimed in to halt a rollicking, 45-run ninth-wicket stand between Lockie Ferguson and Matt McEwan.
McEwan had slammed Tickner for two sixes and a boundary off a single over en route to his audacious 31-ball 41, while Ferguson supported with an unbeaten 12, despite an injured hand that would later see him absent from the Aces' bowling attack.
That blow to the Aces should not take any shine off what happened next, as Jesse Ryder once again took centre stage at Saxton Oval.
Ryder joined the Stags' second innings at 86 for three, opener Greg Hay holding the fort with a half century.
The pair with such contrasting styles shared a 55-run stand for the fourth wicket, then Ryder steadily set about building his third first-class century on the bounce, near effortlessly slamming his first six of the match off Matt McEwan before he'd even clocked 50.
Ryder's half century arrived via a boundary in 48 balls and, by tea, he was well into the partnership of the match as he and Dane Cleaver punished the Aces' attack to all parts in a 161-run stand for the fifth.
Cleaver unleashed a flurry of his trademark extravagant drives to race to 88 off just 78 balls while Ryder was picking off runs at will.
Ryder's century came off just 104 balls, the second time in his career that he has tonned up twice in the same first-class match.
The last time he had done so was in 2012/13 when he was playing for the Wellington Firebirds against the Stags. Now he had done it for the Stags, his original team at the dawn of his career, instead of against them. And, it was a rare instance of three consecutive first-class centuries (109* in the last innings of his last game last season; 175 and 106 not out), all at this very same ground.
Selected statistics, courtesy of Francis Payne
Batsmen with most instances of a century in each innings in New Zealand first-class cricket
Bert Sutcliffe (4)
Glenn Turner (3)
Martin Crowe, Peter Fulton, Peter Ingram, Aaron Redmond, Jesse Ryder (2)
Players with a century in each innings in the same first-class match for the Central Stags
Peter Ingram (2), Martin Crowe, Jamie How, Mathew Sinclair, Jesse Ryder (1)
Most instances of players with a century in each innings in the same first-class game, by team
Otago Volts 12, Auckland Aces 7, Central Stags 6, Canterbury 5, Wellington Firebirds 5, ND 5
Declaring at 302 for five upon the dismissal of Cleaver, the Stags put the icing on their memorable day with two valuable top order wickets, the Aces rocked at 60/2 by stumps.
Blair Tickner had continued his good showing in the match by removing the prime danger Jeet Raval on 22 and the Aces now face a challenging final day, a further 366 runs required to save their dignity and their eight wickets in hand including the injured Ferguson.
Batting Bonus Points: Central Stags 4 (maximum achieved); Auckland Aces 2 (in progress)
Bowling Bonus Points: Auckland Aces 4 (maximum achieved); Central Stags 2 (in progress)
A day that began with plenty of action flattened out into a tough afternoon as the Stags and Aces jostled ahead of what promises to be a key “moving day” tomorrow.
The Stags had started the day well positioned on 395 for six with overnight centurion Jesse Ryder (165*) and the capable all-round support man Bevan Small at the crease.
After his dominant day one display, interest was focussed on whether Ryder would add a further double century to his name, but paceman Lockie Ferguson was in a mood for morning wickets.
The Auckland quick finally got Ryder to nick one behind to a grateful keeper in Ben Horne, the five-hour masterclass coming to a close with the Stags 414 for seven and Ryder walking in with 175 (27 x 4).
However, even with Ryder back in the shed, the Stags weren’t finished making the Aces’ attack sweat on a warm October Halloween morning. Small simply picked up the baton and belted a quick half century — 64 off 61 balls before he was brutally run out in a communication mishap with his number 11.
By now Ferguson (5-129) had ticked off his seventh five-wicket bag in first-class cricket, quickly taking care of lower order batsmen Seth Rance and Ajaz Patel before the Stags were bowled out for 472.
Matt McEwan will also take heart from his performance, claiming 3-78 from 21 overs.
There was time for 16 overs before lunch and, while Jeet Raval started impressively with a flurry of boundaries, both he and Robbie O’Donnell were back in the pavilion before the break, the Aces 60/2 at lunch and needing a big middle session with the bat.
Skipper Michael Guptill-Bunce was at the crease and led the way after the break. Partner Michael Barry would meanwhile become the first of three victims for big Blair Tickner, who found some episodes of heat and some late life in the pitch even as it flattened out under the burning arvo sun.
Guptill-Bunce was in sight of a century when he fell on 78 (9x4, 2x6), the Stags’ pace attack keeping the pressure on as the scoring rate slowed to a trickle. Mark Chapman showed flashes of style and plenty of patience, but took the Aces an ice age to move from 185 to 200.
Chapman found a new partner in Ben Horne after tea, and the pair was disciplined in putting on 83 for the sixth wicket before Chapman fell caught behind to Tickner an agonising six overs before stumps, on 72.
Horne (42*) and Donovan Grobbelaar (1*) denied the Central bowlers in the remaining overs before stumps, the Aces finishing day two 267 for six but still trailing the Stags by 205 runs on the first innings.
It had been a big effort nonetheless from the Stags' hearty pace attack throughout a warm afternoon, leg-spinner Brad Schmulian unable to play his part with the ball while icing a bruised hand, after having been rapped by Ferguson while batting on the previous day.
Spearheaded by Bracewell and Rance, and with 24-year-old Tickner sitting on a good 3-47 hunting his maiden first-class five-wicket bag, the Stags will be hoping for some morning freshness in the deck to get day three rolling in their direction.
Batting Bonus Points: Central Stags 4 (maximum achieved)
Bowling Bonus Points: Auckland Aces 2 (in progress)
It was definitely a day of two halves at Saxton Oval, the Central Stags overcoming some early wobbles to post a strong first innings total against the Auckland Aces.
An overcast, humid Nelson morning started well for the Aces with skipper Michael Guptill-Bunce winning the toss and inserting the Stags on a green, if slow, deck.
His decision was rewarded early by paceman Lockie Ferguson (below) picking up two quick wickets before the Stags had even made it to double figures.
The Aces initially showed discipline with the ball, a tight line and length the feature of all bowlers who had a trundle in the morning session — and the visitors struck two more big blows before lunch, removing both skipper Will Young (11) and opening-round double centurion Brad Schmulian (28).
Matt McEwan (above) had bowled Young while Donovan Grobbelaar in his first match of the season was rewarded for a consistent morning when Schmulian nicked behind.
But any gloominess hanging over the Stags (100/4) at lunch would soon evaporate as the afternoon warmed up, literally and metaphorically.
Jesse Ryder (41* in his 125th first-class appearance) and Dane Cleaver (14*) resumed what would grow into a 149-run stand for the fifth wicket, bringing significant stability to the Stags’ innings.
Relishing his first bat of the season, Ryder showed the kind of strokeplay and timing that made him a force on the world stage.
He was at times brutal on the bowling as he put the foot down in the middle session, finding the boundary with regularity. Equally he could deftly guide or glance the ball for a single or two with an ease that eluded his teammates.
The pair brought the Stags right back into the contest, Cleaver eventually falling for 56 – McEwan’s second victim of the innings.
At tea, Ryder had reached his 24th first-class century (third for the Stags, and his second consecutively at Saxton Oval after a match-winning effort in his last appearance last season). Aces skipper Guptill-Bunce only had himself to blame for dropping him on 94.
It was symptomatic of the Aces’ afternoon, unravelling as they chased leather in the now warm and humid conditions.
Ryder and Bracewell had started to form another ominous partnership, the home side going to the break at 249 for five.
Mark Chapman partnered with fellow Parnell teammate Ferguson at the bowling crease for the final session as the Aces hunted desperately for some late day-one wickets.
However, Ryder and Bracewell continued to dominate late into the arvo, a classy Bracewell this time accelerating the scoring rate with his easy touch and escalating strike rate.
It wasn’t until McEwan returned to the bowling crease that the Aces finally struck, Bracewell unlucky to fall just shy of a century, trapped on 97.
By this stage, the damage had been done in a ruthless sixth-wicket partnership of 152, Ryder then smashing some late boundaries to bump the Stags up to 395 for a six at the end of day one, a handsome recovery from their 51 for four earlier in the day.
Ryder will resume on day two unbeaten on 165 (25 x 4).