The Aces unleashed the Neesh | PHOTOSPORT

Stand and deliver

Video Highlights



Kennards Hire Community Oval, Auckland

Auckland Aces 4 points



Jimmy Neesham : highest List A score for Auckland Aces (previously 11*)

Nick Greenwood : 1,000 List A career runs

Troy Johnson : 1,000 List A career runs




A little weather couldn't stop the Auckland Aces and Wellington Firebirds turning on a brilliant contest to bring the first half of The Ford Trophy to a close.

A match to remember saw BLACKCAP Jimmy Neesham make his long awaited return to Auckland, and turn on one of the day's star performances.

In the last Ford Trophy match of the 2023 calendar year, Neesham had been named in an Auckland Aces one-day team for the first time since his very first List A match, debuting almost 14 years ago, in February 2010.

It was the only Ford Trophy he had played for the team before departing for a Domestic career at the Otago Volts and then Wellington Firebirds.

The Auckland Aces were sent in by Firebirds skipper Nick Kelly after a slight delay on a gusty, weather-interrupted day, with Neesham inked in to bat at five in a strong line-up,.

The Aces - who have been regular champions in the last six seasons with three titles, headed in with a mission of regaining the competition lead from Northern Districts, against Neesham's former side who sit at the bottom end of the table - and were now without strike weapon Adam Milne.

Northern Districts had snatched back the lead on the previous day with a low-scoring win against the Central Stags in tough conditions. Now the wind was still gusting, but on a used deck, the runs flowed more easily at Eden Park's outer oval.

Things started well enough for the Firebirds with a big early wicket - BLACKCAP Finn Allen prevented from entertaining any prospects of a third century in the front half of the campaign when Ollie Newton knocked over his middle stump at 23/1.

But it would be 23 overs before the Firebirds had another wicket, as Aces captain Sean Solia (92 off 88 balls) and Robbie O'Donnell (an unbeaten 75* off 78 balls, below) took charge.

The current and former skipper accrued a solid 158-run stand for the second wicket, taking their team through to 181/2.

Solia took it to allrounder Nathan Smith early, then spanked his first six when leg-spinner Peter Younghusband tried his luck.

Ben Sears arrested the momentum for a time, but the experienced batters soon picked up the pace again and O'Donnell popped his first six off Newton for good measure.

Mark Chapman didn't get in, stumped off Younghusband, but when Neesham walked to the middle at 186/3 in the 29th over, the day's star attraction had the perfect platform from which to show off his wares.

It didn't taken him long, against his former teammates.

Sears kept him on his toes initially, but he latched onto Younghusband for three sixes in four balls - all carted lavishly back over the bowler's head, or thereabouts.

Sears got similar treatment as he was spanked over the rope next over, and the Aces had raced past the 200-mark and then some.

With the blustery wind blowing across the pitch at an awkward angle, Logan van Beek conceded 15 off an over as he bowled five wides in the 36th.

Then Neesham slammed him for a six off the last delivery, just to add to his pain. Over his head.

Through all this, rainshower interruptions had been a right royal pain, with the match reduced to 47, then 43, then 40 overs before another burst saw lunch called and the Aces innings stopping the clock at 295/3 off 38.3 overs.

By then, Neesham had slapped another brace of sixes to finish his assault unbeaten on 81 not out off just 40 balls (six fours, seven sixes).

The Firebirds needed a fast start, and they got it from Nick Greenwood who raced to 23 off just 17 balls, and Tim Robinson (above) who went on to 43 at run-a-ball pace.

But they needed a big partnership, too.

First drop Troy Johnson (an unbeaten 97* off just 86 balls, above) and a belligerent Nick Kelly (73 off 54) delivered that part of the bargain with a 161-run stand for the third wicket.

It was a record stand in Wellington matches against Auckland.

But it still wasn't enough to match Auckland's run rate.

Back from injury, big left-arm paceman Ben Lister (2.49) yorked Nick Kelly at 240/3 in the 33rd over, and it triggered a flurry of wickets in the next two overs.

Callum McLachlan valiantly carted Neesham for two sixes in the 35th, but fittingly Neesham had the final say in the match when he had McLachlan caught after he tried to go again, last ball. Caught in the deep, it was game over.

The Aces had taken the victory by just 10 runs under the DLS system, and what a show they had put on to acquire it.

Now, they would come back in February as the national leaders once again.






Asahi CCC Dream11 Dulux Ford Gillette GJ Gardner KFC Life Direct Pals Powerade Spark Spark