Aces captain Robbie O'Donnell | PHOTOSPORT

Dramatic draw in Dunners




University of Otago Oval, Dunedin

29 February - 3 March 2024


Wellington Firebirds: 17

Canterbury: 8

Auckland Aces: 8 

Central Stags: 7

Otago Volts: 7

Northern Districts: 5


Harjot Johal, Jock McKenzie, Angus Olliver - first-class debut (Auckland Aces)

Jock McKenzie - maiden half century

Mark Chapman - 6th first-class century

Robbie O'Donnell - 9th first-class century

Dean Foxcroft - 2nd first-class century, career best score (174)


The Plunket Shield clash between the two cellars dwellers developed across the full four days into a last-ball thriller - with Otago Volts captain Dean Foxcroft producing his biggest first-class knock yet on the tension-filled final afternoon

The Auckland O'Donnell brothers earlier had continued their strong form in all formats this summer, and were two of the three Aucklanders in this game to ton up, in a match in which the team introduced three debutants.

Both teams were still looking for their first win in the fifth of the eight rounds, but it wasn't to be - despite all the excitement in a hard game, full of twists and turns.

Scores: Auckland Aces 410, Otago Volts 319, Auckland Aces 295/4 declared, Otago Volts 327/9

Result: Match drawn


After Auckland Aces captain Robbie O'Donnell won the toss, the Aucklanders batted first as the Plunket Shield championship resumed after the white-ball season.

The Aces were now the Dream11 Super Smash champions and had given Canterbury a good run for their money in the Ford Trophy Final, which Canterbury claimed. But the first-class season was not going to plan for the Aces at all.

This match began with the Aces losing both their O'Donnell brothers to single-figure scores, although they would each atone later in the game.

Mark Chapman's sixth first-class century (123) in a century-stand with Sean Solia (62) helped the Aces gather steam, however, against their hosts the Otago Volts.


Chapman hit 20 boundaries in an applied effort, staying for almost four and a half hours in the middle to put his side in a good position to control the match.

The Aces would reach 341/7 by stumps, with debutant and code-crosser Jock McKenzie unbeaten on 37* as late summer conditions across the country provided plenty of runs while left-arm spinner Ben Lockrose made an impact in the afternoon and ended the day with three wickets in his column.


Both the Otago Volts and the Auckland Aces would end up taking four out of four bonus points from Auckland's first dig, after debutant McKenzie carried on from his 37 not out overnight to reach an unbeaten 74* by the time the Aces were dismissed late in the first session.

McKenzie played his shots all round the wicket, bringing up his maiden 50 with a pull shot off Jacob Duffy.

The Volts had bowled out their guests for 410, but by stumps another Aces debutant in paceman Harjot Johal had his first three wickets in first-class cricket.

The slinger struck with just his third delivery in first-class cricket and sat on good overnight figures of 3/30 off his 13 overs – having removed Volts captain Dean Foxcroft as his maiden victim - shouldering arms, no less, then later, dangerous Thorn Parkes (67) and Jamal Todd to help get the hosts to 244/6 by stumps.

Max Chu (41 not out) and Ben Lockrose (18 not out) had a big task ahead.


After wrapping up the Volts innings on 319 for a first innings lead - the Aces taking another four bonus points and the Volts three for their batting, Aces captain Robbie O’Donnell declared his team’s second innings at 295/4.

That set the Volts a chase of 387 to win, of which 380 would still be needed on the final day.

The Volts had conceded a first-innings deficit of 91 before the O’Donnell brothers - opener Will and number four Robbie, made the third day at University of Otago Oval a long one for the locals.

The brothers shared a 98-run stand for the third wicket before Will O’Donnell was run out on 70 by a brilliant direct hit from Dale Phillips - who had just one stump to aim at. 

But the elder O’Donnell marched on to an unbeaten 151* off just 146 balls, supported by George Worker who contributed a half century.

Worker was also run out by Phillips, in a comedy of errors. Worker was idly jogging through for a proposed easy single whilst Phillips was anywhere near the ball, which proved a big mistake as Phillips pounced.


On paper, this day and this match was Auckland's to win, but a remarkable fight from the hosts with the bat on the last afternoon avoided defeat. 

Volts captain Dean Foxcroft was the chief saviour, and almost, the hero of the match.

He batted for almost six hours for his big new career-best score of 174 - just the classy right-hander's second first-class century. 

He gave his team the chance of a win.

However, his loss at 325/7 was followed by a double strike by Aces spinner Louis Delport in the very next over, and that suddenly put the Volts on the brink at nine down.

But the Volts had the fight left in them yet.

They had needed 198 from the last session, and got within 60 runs of an unlikely victory.

The situation changed, of course, after the loss of the captain who had lefted the tempo after tea, and the dramatic last half hour saw an injured Thorn Parkes (1* off 19 balls) and last man Jarrod McKay (0* off 21) fend off Delport, and a pressure cooker ring in-field.

But even three slips and five silly positions were not enough to unnerve McKay who saw off the last over for a draw.

It leaves both teams still hunting for their first victory of this season's first-class campaign heading into Friday's sixth round with the Aces heading to Hamilton and Volts to an alternate home ground in Alexandra to host Canterbury.

Parkes was down as opening the batting in this match but would appear to have sprained an ankle. Debutant Johal impressed with seven wickets for the match on debut.







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