The Devon Hotel Central Stags have beaten the Mondiale Auckland Aces by 78 runs at Colin Maiden Park in the Ford Trophy Grand Final today to take the title for 2015.
After a rain delay, the Stags were in trouble early, the retiring Jamie How going for a golden duck and season top scorer George Worker making just two.
"We were in a bit of trouble early on, yes," said Stags skipper Kruger van Wyk afterwards. "You need to dovetail as a partnership and I thought we did that beautifully today. Sometimes in finals things do go wrong, but you just need to stay calm and carry on."
"Will Young (45), van Wyk (53) and Dane Cleaver (51) were able to consolidate and resurrect the innings before Doug Bracewell (24 from 18) and Bevan Small (29 from 12) got the Stags to 271/7 in their 50 overs, leaving the Aces feeling like the innings got away on them. Donovan Grobbelaar took 2-38 from his ten overs, but Matt Quinn (2-78) and Michael Bates (2-65) copped it towards the latter stages.
In reply, Aces opener Brad Cachopa got 40 at quicker than a run a ball, but regular wickets were the story as the Stags' attack turned the screws. Bracewell (2-29), Small (3-40) and the season's top wicket taker Andrew Mathieson (4-22) did the damage, backed up by near-flawless fielding. Marty Kain's athletic, over-the-head leaping catch to remove Colin de Grandhomme for just 13 when he was looking dangerous typified the effort and was a pivotal moment in the match.
Van Wyk was quick to pay tribute to the Stags' group. "The trophy literally belongs to about fourteen guys, as well as the support staff, that's what's made this campaign really special," he said.
The run rate required was more than six an over early, and the result felt inevitable as wickets kept tumbling. Bracewell removed Quinn to end the match in the 39th over, sparking wild celebrations from the Stags. It was a deserved reward after their dominant Ford Trophy season, and a fitting send-off for Jamie How, who retires from cricket after today.
Andrew Mathieson's four wickets in the match took him past Graeme Aldridge's record for most wickets in a New Zealand 50-over season, but he was quick to attribute his personal success to the team.
"I think the boys hunting as a pack helps, Bevan's got a lot of wickets, as has Dougie, it's just a matter of flipping a coin to see who gets them basically. I've been fortunate enough to play every game and obviously got the rewards a bit," said Mathieson.