Hamish Rutherford celebrates his hundred. Image: Photosport

Tons of runs at Saxton Oval

DAY FOUR

End of match — Otago Volts 238/2 (Hamish Rutherford 73, Brad Wilson 117 not out) drew with Central Districts at Saxton Oval, Nelson, 25 October 2016
 
Scorecard

After three cracker days, rain reared its ugly head and plummeted down early on Day Four to delay and ultimately throttle the denouement of a Saxton Park runfest.

Cards time, lunch was taken early, the remainder of the day reduced to 80 overs. When the players finally did get on the park that afternoon, the distraction did not prove ideal for Hamish Rutherford who added just a further two runs to his overnight 71 before Ben Wheeler picked up his first wicket of the season.

Unflappable Brad Wilson would be the one to press on from his overnight 44, and the afternoon would see the new official captain make a top start to his personal summer by becoming the first Volt since Aaron Redmond at Rangiora against Canterbury in the 2012/13 season to make a hundred in each innings of a Plunket Shield match. Walking in the footsteps of two BLACKCAPS, Wilson also became the first Volts skipper to achieve the feat since Craig Cumming made 127* and 127 in Queenstown, also against Canterbury, in 2010/11.

Brad Wilson works a ball into the on side.Image: Photosport
 
The right-handed rock shared an 83-run unbroken stand with Neil Broom until Wilson eventually declared the innings at 232/2. He strolled off unbeaten on 117, his 13th first-class ton. That left the Central Stags a target of 353 from a maximum 41 overs — some eight runs an over needed, at which point the two captains shook hands to call the match a draw.

The result leaves both teams on five points at the wrong end of the table with ground to make up after the opening round.

Round two Plunket Shield action begins this Saturday 29 October, the Stags heading to Hagley Oval to face Canterbury while the Volts take off for Eden Park Outer Oval to play the Auckland Aces — all four of those teams still on the hunt for their first win of the season. Entry to all matches is free every day.

DAY THREE

At stumps — Otago Volts 117/0 in the second innings (Hamish Rutherford 71*, Brad Wilson 44*) lead Central Stags 365/5 declared (first innings; Greg Hay 136, Mitch Renwick 57, Will Young 36, Tom Bruce 78; Christi Viljoen 3-84) by 231 runs

Scorecard
First innings bonus points: Volts 5, Stags 5

It was business as usual for the Otago Volts' opening batsmen at a fine and evidently flat Saxton Oval, Hamish Rutherford and Brad Wilson reaching their second century opening stand of the match by stumps on day three.

With the more aggressive Rutherford (71* off 103) undefeated and in sight of his second century in this productive first-round match, the Volts hold an overall lead of 231 — the Stags earlier having declared their first innings 114 runs behind, after belting out a truckload of runs at a good clip themselves.

The Stags’ batting line-up had enjoyed the pitch almost as much as their rivals, opener Greg Hay carrying on from his overnight fifty to notch his eighth first-class century (136), while Tom “Bruiser” Bruce hit the ground running after a strong off-season abroad to smash 78 off 74 balls — promptly getting himself off the mark by slamming Rhys Phillips for a boundary, eleven all told in his first whirlwind innings of the summer. His impetus, followed by an emboldened Dane Cleaver and Ben Wheeler who swiftly pumped two sixes, allowed the Stags to move the game forward quickly in order to hold on to a sliver of hope for the final day.

Greg Hay celebrates his century at Saxton Oval. Image: Photosport

In his first full season with the Volts, former Namibian international Christi Viljoen was meanwhile the most successful of the visiting attack on the run-friendly surface with 3-84.

While Wilson and Rutherford’s repeat assault may well have already dented the plans somewhat, Stags skipper Will Young’s sporting declaration might be less generous than it appears on paper: rain and thunder is forecast to bother final day proceedings, both captains likely to be practising their arithmetric for much of the crunch day.

DAY TWO

At stumps — Central Stags 134/1 (Greg Hay 74*, Mitch Renwick 52*) trail Otago Volts by 345 runs in the first innings. Earlier — Otago Volts 479/5 declared (Neil Broom 93, Josh Finnie 56) at Saxton Oval, Nelson, 23 October 2016

Scorecard

First innings batting bonus points, Volts 3, Stags 0 (in progress)
First innings bowling bonus points, Stags 1, Volts 0 (in progress)

Under cloud-dappled skies, batting continued to look a sweet deal at Saxton Oval. After having been sitting pretty at 302/3 overnight, the Volts slathered on a further 177 runs before captain Brad Wilson called the lads in shortly after drinks in day two’s middle session.

By then, young Josh Finnie had helped build a 111-run stand for the fourth wicket while bagging his third first-class half century. Neil Broom, meanwhile, carried on and almost added to the team’s ton tally before off-spinner Ajaz Patel caught him out just seven runs away from what had seemed an inevitable 18th first-class century.

Neil Broom acknowledges his 50. Image: Photosport

Derek de Boorder topped it off with an unbeaten 29 before the declaration was made at 479/5 and it was the Stags’ turn to make hay while the sun shone on the amenable Saxton Oval deck and their bowlers put their battle-weary feet up.

By stumps they had responded with 134/1, still trailing by 345. Christi Viljoen had made an early breakthrough by nicking out Ben Smith for just three runs, the prodigious opener unconvinced and standing his ground for some time before reluctantly leaving the golden surface. His team-mates took up the baton withour drama, first drop Mitch Renwick set on an unbeaten 52 by stumps — his third first-class half century. Partner Greg Hay had meanwhile reached 74 not out for his 14th first-class half century, well poised to kick on the following morning for the Stags’ first century of the summer.

DAY ONE

At stumps — Otago Volts 302/3 (Hamish Rutherford 143, Brad Wilson 111, Ryan Duffy 31) v Central Stags at Saxton Oval, Nelson, 22 October 2016

Scorecard
First innings batting bonus points, Volts: 3 (interim)
First innings bowling bonus points, Stags: 1 (interim)

By the time the umpires drew stumps, spinner Ajaz Patel might well have traded all 43 wickets he took last summer for just one on the opening day of the new season. Labour weekend? It wasn’t supposed to mean hard labour for the fielding side on their home turf.

The Stags didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter, however, as newly elected Volts captain Brad Wilson had won the toss and licked his lips at the Saxton Oval deck laid out under the bright Nelson sunshine.

He would open the batting with his former captain Hamish Rutherford, and they would make runs for two entire sessions before the frustrated Stags got their first breakthrough.

Rutherford was first to three figures, off 117 balls. And then the left-hander kept going. His 143 was his ninth first-class century in total, and his sixth for his beloved Volts. Twenty-one fours and two sixes kept  his strike rate high and put a fair bit of lactic acid in the legs of his opponents.

Wilson’s ton came later. He’d been scoring at half the clip of Rutherford, but he’s a tidy, laconic batsman who has a knack of making himself look like he’s conserving energy as he smarts the ball away to the fence with a powerful flick. He could be the rock, the steady beat while Rutherford was busy smashing his guitar up.

Wilson’s fourth century for the Volts, in the space of just a year, was his 12th overall, counting his Northern Districts career. The hundred was built from 224 balls (12x4, 1x6), and took five hours.

Together, the bearded batsmen’s opening stand of 227 had had some beginning to wonder if the epic Otago first-wicket record versus Central would go down — it stands at 305 (Martyn Croy/Robbie Lawson at McLean Park in 1995/96). Not quite, as it turned out, but it was still enough to completely ruin the Stags’ day.

Brad Wilson celebrates his century at Saxton Oval. Image: Photosport

Patel was the one who finally got a wicket and you wouldn’t have blamed him for kissing the ground when he had Rutherford caught on the straight boundary, shortly after the tea break.

Wilson would become Ryan McCone’s first wicket for his newly adopted Stags when one of those trademark flicks didn’t quite come off, but he’d already added another 59 runs with Ryan Duffy (31).

With Neil Broom and Josh Finnie on single figures overnight, the Stags will be desperate to make early breakthroughs on the second morning to get some sort of grip back on the innings.

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