Ford Trophy round 2: SKYCITY Northern Knights, 297-9 (Santner 86, Hickey 67; Rance 3-45, Mathieson 3-67) beat Devon Hotel Central Stags, 284 in 49.3 overs (Worker 100, Young 65, Smith 31; Jono Boult 3-64) by 13 runs at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth
On a ground that had seen a record 400-plus total just days earlier, there were no surprises when SKYCITY Northern Knights skipper Daniel Flynn jumped at the chance to bat first in the Devon Hotel Central Stags’ second home game at Pukekura Park.
However, after a slight delay for a pesky shower, the Knights initially struggled to get partnerships going. Adam Milne had been rested for the match but, even without his fireballs, the Stags’ pace trio of Seth Rance, Andy Mathieson and Bevan Small neatly lopped the top off the Knights’ order, having them sweating at 115-4 at just past the midway stage of their innings — well behind prematch targets on a ground like Pukekura Park.
Enter two positive young left-handers in a situation ripe for them to make their highest Ford Trophy scores yet.
Batting at five, 23-year-old Jono Hickey raised his second half-century, seven boundaries and a six flying off his firmly-wielded bat. Evoking his skipper in full flight, Hickey’s 71-ball 67 exceeded his previous best score of 61 and it took a superb catch at midwicket by Doug Bracewell to bring it to a close..
At 22, Santner has bloomed throughout this year for the Knights. He matched Hickey’s resolve with his own career-best 86 off 66 balls at six — 52 runs of which came in boundaries, including twin sixes. Santner almost made it through to the end of the innings before Rance bowled him, but by then the Knights were well back into the game and on track to post a defendable 297-9.
After Jamie How’s epic batting heroics in the Stags’ previous outing here, the inevitable happened and he departed for a four-ball duck. Opening partner George Worker responded magnificently, making it his mission to go on to an entertaining century this time - attractively scoring exactly 100, at cracking pace, his fourth in List A one-dayers.
He was supported by Will Young’s bustling 65 — another young up-and-comer's career best. The pair looked to have things under good control, but the wheels fell off dramatically when first Worker and then Young fell with more than a dozen overs left to go.
The Knights’ spin attack set to work on the late order and squeezed them like a three-headed python, reducing the Stags from 212-4 (at Young’s dismissal) to all out for 284 in the last over.
Santner had continued his impressive all-round day with a key stint of 2-39, but the experienced terrier that is Jono Boult did the most damage to the scoreboard with three wickets, claiming both Small and Kruger van Wyk in the penultimate over as the Knights closed in on a gripping 13-run win.
It was their first victory of the 2014/15 Ford Trophy and they now ready themselves for their first home game of the summer, against the Wellington Firebirds at Mount Maunganui on New Year’s Day.