2022/23 • Zone 1 Challenge
Holder Canterbury Country drew with Challenger Waikato Valley
Canterbury Country retains the Hawke Cup on the first innings
10-12 March, 2023, Mainpower Oval, Rangiora
It was the first time since the start of the Hawke Cup competition in 1910 that Waikato Valley had won the right to make a Hawke Cup Challenge.
Formed just 20 years ago as a result of amalgamation, the debutants were excited to be going up against Canterbury Country in Rangiora, while the current holders were just as excited about the prospect of extending their best ever tenure.
Waikato Valley got off to an excellent start in their special match in Rangiora.
Captain Chris Swanson won the toss and elected to bat at Rangiora's Mainpower Oval, with opening batsman Dillon Kelliher and James Field (an elder brother of Central Stag Joey Field) putting on a century stand for the second wicket.
Taylor Bettelheim had been the first to fall at 30/1 in the eighth over, but Field and Kelliher diligently steadied the ship to steer the visitors to 115/1 by lunch.
Kelliher had brought up his half century in postive fashion, off just 64 balls, with a six for good measure. Field's more circumspect half ton arrived in the middle session, but he was caught off Ryan Hughes on 56.
The second wicket had been worth 109 runs and, although captain Swanson made a good start with 46 runs for the third, alongside Kelliher, the session would prove a costly one.
Swanson became Sam Chamberlain's second victim, and soon afterwards, Kelliher was back in the sheds as well, bowled by the unorthodox Blake Coburn for Waikato Valley's top score of 90.
The opener had batted for more than four hours, in the finest Hawke Cup tradition. But now wickets tumbled regularly for Canterbury Country, the floodgates opened as the lower order struggled.
By tea, Waikato Valley was 194/6, and were seven down when the new ball was taken.
Canterbury representative Coburn was doing most of the damage with the turning ball, however, and quickly rustled up a five-wicket bag: 5/80 off his 26 overs.
Waikato Valley held for a further 10 overs with just one wicket in hand, before Tim Gruitjers got the last wicket to dismiss the challengers for 262 in 98 overs.
Despite a spot of rain, there was time enough for Canterbury Country to make a start on their own first dig, ending the day at five for no loss after a solitary over in response.
Canterbury Country's first goal for the day was to score a further 258 runs to take themselves into the vital first innings lead.
Archie Redfern and Hawke Cup debutant Robbie Foulkes, one of the several Foulkes, made a good start on their assignment with 53 for the first wicket, before Foulkes was caught off captain Chris Swanson.
Redfern then paired with first drop Harry Chamberlain for the defining partnership of the innings and match.
By stumps, the opener Redfern was still unbeaten, having batted all day for his overnight 133 not out. He had helped secure the first innings lead, and he was not the only Canterbury Countryman to have raised his bat in the last session.
Chamberlain had already beaten him to a century, getting to three figures after tea when the pair had already slathered on more than 150 runs for their wicket.
Not long after the new ball, Chamberlain was finally caught off Campbell McKegg, on 119.
With the score at 245/2, just a fistful more were needed now for the precious lead, and they were duly ticked off by the indefatiguable Redfern and fresh-legged partner Gruijters.
By stumps, Canterbury Country held a lead of 44 with eight wickets in hand, at 306/2 with Redfern unbeaten on 133* and Gruijyers having batted for almost an hour and a half for his 24 not out.
The captains shook hands when Canterbury Country reached 470/4 in their first innings, in the middle session.
Tim Gruijters had been on course for a century, but had just been bowled on 98 - Matt Allen's second wicket in the innings becoming the last act by Waikato Valley in their first ever challenge.
Earlier, Allen had finally been the one to remove the defiant opener Redfern, who reached 210 off 445 balls in almost nine hours before he was stumped at 435/3, just after lunch.
Details of the outstanding Zone 2 Challenge against Canterbury Country will be advised.
CANTERBURY COUNTRY Playing XI
Sam Chamberlain (c)
Robbie Foulkes (debut)
Ryan Hughes (debut)
James Watson (w)
WAIKATO VALLEY Playing XI
Chris Swanson (c)
Dillon Kelliher (w)