It was entertainment to the max at Eden Park Outer Oval when not only did the Auckland Aces post their highest ever one-day total, but the Central Stags came within just four runs of beating them. Three centuries!
How it happened
• Backing his batsmen to chase down targets, Central Stags captain Will Young elected to bowl — bringing Liam Dudding into hs injury-ravaged attack on List A debut, replacing Seth Rance who was out with a calf strain.
• At 208 for none in the 28th over, Aces supporters probably figured that hadn’t turned out too badly. Both openers, the powerhouse young Glenn Phillips and sublime Martin Guptill on his return match, had stormed to centuries in a record opening stand for Auckland — it was also the highest by anyone against the Stags. The old mark had been an unbeaten 166 by Bryan Young and Blair Pocock at the same ground in 1998/99.
• Phillips’ ton was his second in the Ford Trophy arena after his 101 in Alexandra last season; this time he went one run better as the Stags attack ebbed and flowed against the onslaught.
• Guptill had been murderous — the ball having to be replaced after Guptill pretty much destroyed its leather cover by slamming it into scaffolding at the north end of the ground.
• The epic stand was broken by Blair Tickner —the fifth bowler employed — when the big Hawke’s Bay paceman got Phillips to crack a drive straight to Young, after 10 boundaries and six sixes in a scintillating innings of 89 balls.
• Guptill followed a couple of overs later on 112 (95 balls, 15 boundaries, three sixes), hooking the ball straight to Tom Bruce on the short square boundary, receiving a standing ovation for his 21st List A century as the popular BLACKCAP departed.
• Tickner had struck again, and remarkably the Stags hadn’t been without their moments in the sun — debutant Dudding bowling two nerveless maidens in his respectable opening five-over spell before the Aces assault force began to terrorise. Likewise, Tickner not only picked up the huge wickets, but returned an economy rate of 5.50 that shone in the circumstances.
• After the Guptill/Phillips show, the Aces had nothing to fear and Sean Solia continued his solid debut season at first drop by racking up an unbeaten 70 off 57 balls, partnered by Guptill, Mark Chapman (43 off 28) and Robbie O’Donnell (44* off 33), the latter duo fully recovered from their calf injuries.
• All of which propelled the top-of-the-table hosts to a colossal 392 for three in their 50 overs, which swept aside their previous record of 385/5 against the Firebirds in 2014/15.
• Stags opener George Worker had been bowling well throughout the season but had got off to a slow start with the bat. Now he was back in charge and, in his 50th List A appearance, not only trucked up his 2000th List A run for the Stags (he has more than 3K overall) but charged to his ninth one-day hundred (seventh for the Stags), the third ton of the day at better than run-a-ball pace.
• He had kept his composure as Donovan Grobbelaar struck twice with big cheap wickets at the other end, then built a 74-run stand for the third wicket with Tom Bruce, who looked back to his dangerous best with a 34-ball 50 before Rob Nicol caught him out, sub fielder Ben Horne collecting his second catch.
• It would be the last wicket to fall as Manawatu duo Dane Cleaver and Worker went on to an unbroken century stand, but the bigger, looming problem for the Stags on a cool and overcast afternoon was the rain pushing its way in from the Waitakeres.
• Cleaver made a sterling effort to get ahead of the DLS by blasting a career best 77 off just 50 balls, showers having caused a couple of interruptions and the match reduced to 34.4 overs, the revised target 254.
• When yet another one came through, initially only the light covers went on and teams were informed there was a good chance of getting back on. But the rain got heavier, the full covers were brought out, and that was that. Tragically for the Stags it would prove yet another close loss, having been just four runs short of the DLS par score after Cleaver had pelted each of the last two deliveries for six.
• Having paced his innings with intelligence, Worker was left unbeaten on 107 from 102 balls (12 fours, one six), the Stags 249 for three yet left in the bottom two on the table at the midway mark of the competition.
The Stags now head to their fortress of Fitzherbert Park in Palmerston North this Saturday, where they have been unbeaten for the past three years, hoping to resurrect their campaign against the bottom-placed Volts.
The Aces meanwhile head to Rangiora looking to stay unbeaten against Canterbury.