Felix Murray, Greg Hay and Willem Ludick celebrate Nelson's successful challenge

The Hawke Cup has a new home

HOLDER Southland v ZONE 3 Challenger Nelson

15-17 February 2019

Queen's Park, Invercargill

RESULT: Match drawn. Nelson lifted the Hawke Cup with a 36-run win on the first innings

Scorecard

One of the most storied teams in the history of the Hawke Cup has lifted New Zealand cricket's most cherished provincial prize for the first time in 22 years.

Thirty-four-year-old Nelson captain Greg Hay - who is also the Central Stags Plunket Shield captain, and will be back in his first-class whites when the national first-class competition resumes this Thursday - was successful at the third attempt in his lengthy career in bringing the Hawke Cup home to Nelson.

A maiden century to young opening batsman Thomas Zohrab (122) had set up a first-innings total of 297 for Nelson, with Hay (72) having partnered him for a marathon second-wicket stand. The successful challenge capped a winning trifecta for Central Districts teams on a special afternoon for the association; the Central Stags T20 squad going on to win the Burger King Super Smash against the Knights in Hamilton three hours later, and the Central Hinds beating defending champions Auckland Hearts in Auckland in their race for qualification for the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield Final.

Nelson succeeded by bowling out Southland for 261 in Invercargill on the final afternoon of a weather-affected, three-day grind for a tension-packed first-innings win - a lead of 36 runs enough to relieve Southland of the trophy in the drawn match. Said Nelson coach Ryan Edwards, “This is very cool, and it is a special group of lads who have played with real pride. They deserve everything they have achieved through working hard and sticking together.”

Southland (Zone 4) had held the Cup since ending the reign of previous holders Counties-Manukau (Zone 1) in the final challenge of the 2017/18 season. Nelson (Zone 3) will now meet Zone 2 regional champions Hawke's Bay in their first defence, in a fortnight's time, on 1 March 2019, in Nelson. Hawke's Bay has earned the right to challenge for the Hawke Cup in spectacular fashion, bowling out Manawatū for just 41 at Fitzherbert Park in Palmerston North on Saturday, with pace bowlers Liam Dudding (7/16) and Ben Stoyanoff (3/17) ripping out all 10 wickets.

Central Stags Plunket Shield batsman Brad Schmulian then scored an unbeaten 154 in Hawke's Bay's reply of 325 for nine en route to his side securing CDCA's Furlong Cup, which determines the Zone 2 challenger each season.

Scores

Nelson last held the Hawke Cup in 1997 and will arrive at Nelson Airport today, Monday 18 February, at 12.20pm with all invited to welcome home the Cup

DAY ONE

After having been sent in on the first morning at Queen’s Park, Zone 3 Challenger Nelson finished the day with a platform of 199 for four - but not before Southland fought their way back with the ball in the last session.

With all but Greg Hay in the Nelson side playing at Queen’s Park for the first time, young opening batsman Thomas Zohrab had carried his bat through blustery conditions to be unbeaten on 88*, having faced 255 deliveries during the day.

After the loss off his twin brother David in the second over, Zohrab had helped Nelson recover from 0/1 with captain Hay who spent almost three and a half hours steadying the ship with him.

The pair was each on the cusp of a half century by lunch, with James Ng’s third-ball wicket the only dismissal of the dogged session.

From 97 for one, Nelson pushed on to 177 for three by tea with the pair accruing 134 for the second wicket, but the big wicket of Hay, caught on 72, would be the first of three on the opening day for legspinner Jack Mockford.

Flighting the ball well, Mockford (3-27) dealt another big blow soon after by claiming another first-class representative in Willem Ludick. Zohrab meanwhile had been the consummate anchorman and by tea had reached 75*, now with Paddy Howes in the middle. He remained unbeaten on 88* when rain cut short the final session at 80 overs.

DAY TWO

After overnight wet weather, a ground delay saw day two proceedings delayed until after lunch but, once play finally resumed, overnight batsman Thomas Zohrab achieved his maiden Hawke Cup century off 266 balls (325 mins, 13 x 4).

Zohrab formed a useful fifth-wicket stand with Nic Clark, the pair adding 61 before a further brief stoppage for rain. The break seemed to hasten Clark’s wicket soon after, while Zohrab trucked on through a further 10 overs before his doughty stint was ended on 122 (304 balls, 16 fours), after six and a half hours at the crease.

Again it was Jack Mockford with the spoils. The dismissal put him in line for a five-wicket bag, but it also put a spring in the step of his teammates who closed in on the remaining order. Jason Domigan, who had claimed Clark, came back and ripped through the tail to finish with 4-73, Mockford left with 4-42 off his 20 overs.

Nelson’s first dig had been stopped on 297, with cup holders Southland beginning their reply immediately after tea. It started with a setback, Jared McKenzie dismissed in the first over by Ben Stark.

Stark, opening with Sam Baxendine, struck again at the end of his third over: suddenly Southland was 20/2.

Southland opener James Ng held firm, however, and launched a recovery with captain Shaun Fitzgibbon for the third wicket. They had taken the score through to 79 in the last session before spinner Felix Murray came into the attack in the 21st over and struck with his fifth delivery, Fitzgibbon trapped on 20.

Southland finished the day trailing by 189 runs but still with seven wickets in hand and opener James Ng requiring just another two runs for his half century heading into day three at 108/3.

DAY THREE

Again a ground delay served to keep everyone on tenterhooks as the delicately poised match headed into a tense final day. Nelson needed seven wickets and Southland 190 further runs in a match destined to be decided on the first innings.

Southland opener James Ng was still there and gave the holders hope, alongside experienced former Volt Ryan Duffy.

However, Southland lost Ryan Duffy when he was trapped on 25 by young Nelson Central Stag Willem Ludick, then Hamish Skelt suffered a duck when he was trapped by another young Stag in spinner Felix Murray. It put Southland in peril at 129 for five.

Amarpreet Singh and anchorman Ng knuckled down and steadied the ship with a potentially match-saving sixth wicket partnership.

Singh reached 78 from 84 balls as the pair put on and 113 run partnership and at lunch the tension could still be cut with a knife on both sides of the table, Southland 232 for five needing another 65 runs. 

However Sam Baxendine had Singh caught by captain Greg Hay first over after the break, and from there the holders were in trouble, Baxendine collecting the number nine and 10 batsmen for no score while Murray had taken care of Jason Domigan as Hay finally got his hands on the coveted Cup.

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