Defending champions the Aces are aiming high. PHOTOSPORT

Focus on Finals!



11am, Saturday 24 November 2018

INVERCARGILL: Otago Volts v Auckland Aces

WHANGAREI: Northern Districts v Wellington Firebirds

NEW PLYMOUTH: Central Stags v Canterbury

The race for direct entry to The Ford Trophy Grand Final is on!

The televised 2018 December 1 showcase is little more than a week away and now the heat is well and truly on in tomorrow’s Round 10 of 10 — not only to get the top spot and host the Grand Final, but to make the top three — with the third qualifying spot still up for grabs between the Auckland Aces and Northern Districts.

Daryl Mitchell is fizzed. PHOTOSPORT

They won’t be playing each other tomorrow, so expect to see a lot of nervous coaches and players checking NZC’s live-scoring of the other games!

The Wellington Firebirds have been top of the table since early doors but found their runaway lead slashed in the last round when they were upset by the Stags in Lincoln. Meanwhile the Otago Volts took a breathtaking win over Canterbury at Hagley Oval to sit just one point behind at the top of the table and that means the Volts could overtake the Firebirds at the death!

Plenty to ponder for Hamish Bennett. MBUTCHER

But Firebirds captain Hamish Bennett says the tight DLS loss to the Stags last helped his team refocus for their decisive Ford Trophy clash with ND at Cobham Oval tomorrow.

“We know that you have to be in control of the majority of the game, you can’t just do bits and pieces right,” said Bennett — the competition’s top wicket-taker so far this year.

“You’ve got to be able to do the processes right the whole time. Cricket is a great humbler and, if anything, the loss on Sunday humbled us and really helped us refocus moving into this game on Saturday.”

Scott Kuggeleijn has been in full flight. MBUTCHER


Northern Districts: Dean Brownlie (c), Peter Bocock (w), Joe Carter, Zak Gibson, Brett Hampton, Nick Kelly, Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, Bharat Popli, Brett Randell, Freddy Walker (brother of Joe), Joe Walker                     

Wellington Firebirds: Hamish Bennett (c), Jakob Bhula, Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, Andrew Fletcher, Lauchie Johns (w), Iain McPeake, Jimmy Neesham, Ollie Newton, Malcolm Nofal, Ben Sears, Peter Younghusband

Big Iain McPeake is making breakthroughs. PHOTOSPORT

But there were positives aplenty, too.
“There’s plenty of good stuff to take from the game – Iain McPeake bowled really well and obviously [rookie opening batsman] Jakob Bhula showed why he’s playing at this level, so as a team I think we actually moved forward.”

It will be free admission to see the crunch match in Whangarei with ND looking for a big win. The highest they can finish in the regular season is third, meaning a place in Wednesday’s 2v3 Elimination Final.

ND must not only beat the Firebirds, but hope the rampaging Volts continue their great form with a triumph over the Auckland Aces in Invercargill.

The Volts have the shock factor. MBUTCHER


Otago Volts: Jacob Duffy (co-captain), Brad Wilson (co-captain), Matt Bacon, Warren Barnes, Neil Broom, Josh Finnie, Shawn Hicks, Anaru Kitchen, Mitch Renwick (w), Michael Rippon, Nathan Smith, Christi Viljoen

Auckland Aces: Craig Cachopa (c), Michael Barry, Graeme Beghin, Danru Ferns, Ronnie Hira, Ben Horne (w), Ben Lister, Matt McEwan, Colin Munro, Robbie O'Donnell, Michael Snedden, Sean Solia

Looks like Danru Ferns thinks the only way is up. PHOTOSPORT

Despite all the permutations, Northern Districts captain Dean Brownlie is squarely focused on his team doing what is required.
“We can’t worry about what happens down in Invercargill,” the experienced Brownlie says.

“We need to be solely focused on the Firebirds as they have played some tremendous cricket this season, and we’ll need to be on top of our game to beat them.

Calm, composed and full of runs is Brownlie's leadership style. MBUTCHER

“Given where we were placed halfway through the competition, our guys have done extremely well to get into our current position,” he added.
“All we can do is ensure we get the win against the Firebirds and hope that fortune favours us down south.”

The third contest tomorrow is a dead rubber between last year’s Finalists the Central Stags and Canterbury at New Plymouth’s Pukekura Park with both teams shooting to go out on a high (tickets at the gate on game day).

The Stags have gained some experience back in wicketkeeper-batsman Dane Cleaver while quick bowler Ed Nuttall could be running in for the first time this season for Canterbury.

Big hitter Josh Clarkson could be putting it out of Pukekura Park tomorrow. PHOTOSPORT


Central Stags: Tom Bruce (c), Greg Hay, Christian Leopard, Dean Foxcroft, Dane Cleaver (w), Josh Clarkson, Willem Ludick, Ben Wheeler, Felix Murray, Ryan McCone, Navin Patel, Liam Dudding

Canterbury: Cole McConchie (c), Jack Boyle, Leo Carter, Jeff Case, Blake Coburn, Michael Davidson, Joel Harden (ex Nelson and CD age groups; potential List A and Canterbury debut), Andrew Hazeldine, Stephen Murdoch, Ed Nuttall, Henry Shipley, Will Williams

 All games are scheduled to begin at 11am tomorrow — Saturday, November 24 with live-scoring here on

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