ELIMINATION FINAL 11am THIS WEDNESDAY AT EDEN PARK OUTER OVAL
Admission: Gold coin charity donation at the gate
Auckland Aces squad
Craig Cachopa (c), Michael Barry, Graeme Beghin, Mark Chapman, Danru Ferns, Ronnie Hira, Ben Horne (w),
Ben Lister, Matt McEwan, Colin Munro, Robbie O’Donnell, Sean Solia
The Ford Trophy defending champions weren’t the top qualifier last summer before they barnstomed Pukekura Park to snatch New Zealand’s men's one-day title, so the fact the Aces aren’t going in to Wednesday’s high pressure Elimination Final as top dog shouldn’t mean too much.
If anything, history is on their side because the big city lads slaughtered Canterbury in the sudden death 2v3 showdown last summer to get to the big dance.
That time they were playing across town at Colin Maiden Park and had stars Jeet Raval (who scored 149) and Tarun Nethula (who pretty much bowled them to victory in both their two big Finals). Here's a rewind with some sound advice from Jerry.
Raval’s now absent with leave on BLACKCAPS duty while leg-spin ace Nethula has disappeared from the Auckland Cricket scene and is, rumour has it, now in the ND catchment.
And to be fair, Eden Park Outer Oval is a unique ground demanding a different game plan from “Colin’s” so time to shake up some fresh intel for this season’s acid test and with the Aces to confirm their squad in the next 24 hours.
The Munro Show aka Colin Munro needs no introduction and he strolled into Lincoln blasting and sweeping first game like it was a club T20 on Cornwall Park No.3. His 143 off 93 balls there was the highest score of this year’s Ford Trophy so far.
Munro is the big early wicket every team wants — as happened next game against the Volts. Oops. But, no question, Colin Munro + Eden Park Outer Oval is a recipe for BOOMFA so all eyes are going to be on the big bopper and what he can do this time to get the Aces across the line against the Wellington Firebirds.
Despite the Otago Volts having qualified top, the Firebirds have been the form team of the tournament, the most consistent in all departments and posing a big threat to the Aces’ hopes. They beat the Aces in a big win at home in Wellington, revenge for a heart-breaking loss at Eden Park Outer Oval.
They've backed new talents and fresh opening batsmen Andrew Fletcher (above, PHOTOSPORT) and, latterly, Jakob Bhula have been making big waves. The Aces’ attack will be fired up to stop them early. Do that and they’ll feel they have a good chance of chipping away at the rest, particularly if they can get on top of former Ace and Volt Jimmy Neesham (below, PHOTOSPORT), one of the older heads they just don't want to let settle in.
The Aces like to call the boutique Outer Oval their fortress and it started out that way this season with back-to-back-to-back wins there in the opening rounds. But then the wheels fell off in a shock upset by the young buck Stags who drubbed them by 170 runs, a Sandringham Road stinger that was the Aces biggest ever loss to the side.
Since then the Aces have been non-stop on the road so will be looking forward to the familiarity of home.
They’ve also become this summer’s kings of the heart-stopping nail-biting finish and will be hoping for an easier ride through to Grand Final against the Volts, if they can pull it off. But if not, they've had some good practice.
One to watch: emerging Aces allrounder Michael Barry (above, PHOTOSPORT) started the campaign at first drop and got off to a slow start before finding his feet. Moved down as top performers like Colin Munro came back in, but is arguably more effective down the order as a man who can keep wickets in hand towards the death. Handy with the ball and took a three-fa when the two sides went head to head at this ground back in Round Two — then taking the fateful winning catch that stunned Firebirds Michael Bracewell who was on 120 at the time and hoping to win the game.
STORY SO FAR
- Beat ND by 2 wickets in Auckland
- Beat Wellington Firebirds by 13 runs in Auckland
- Lost to Canterbury by 6 runs in Christchurch
- Beat Canterbury by 3 runs in Auckland
- Lost to Wellington Firebirds by 120 runs in Wellington
- Lost to Central Stags by a record 170 runs in Auckland
- Lost to Otago Volts by 3 wickets in Lincoln
- Beat Central Stags by 4 wickets in Lincoln
- Beat ND by 58 runs (DLS) in Lincoln
- Lost to Otago Volts by 3 runs in Invercargill
Captain Craig Cachopa, 10 games, 397 runs at SR 90.02. 1x100 2x50
Sean Solia, 10 games, 382 runs at SR 78.43 top of the order. 1x100 (133*) 1x50
Michael Barry, 10 games, 348 runs at SR 67.81, first drop or at the death, 1x50
Ben Horne, 10 games, 277 runs at SR 87.10, 3x50 opening
Graeme Beghin, 10 games, 232 runs in late-middle at SR 91.69 1x50
Colin Munro, 2 games, 154 runs, SR 157.14, 1x100 (143)
Wild card: Didn’t get a start in the last game but Danru Ferns, 7 games, 73 runs, SR 104.28 can turn up the volume fast at the death
Mitch McClenaghan took 15 wickets in 9 games at ER 5.32 and made a big impact.
Michael Snedden (above) and young left-armer Ben Lister have come in at other times and made themselves pretty useful too. Snedden had a handy debut at Eden Park Outer Oval in the loss to the Stags but availability competes with work commitments as a new primary school teacher.
Danru Ferns 11 wickets in 7 games at ER 4.94, his 4-35 is the Aces’ best return to date this summer
Sean Solia (above, PHOTOSPORT) and Michael Barry, 10 wickets each making them the most valuable allrounders in the side
Matt McEwan returned in Round Seven: 8 wickets in 4 games the big bustler with a handy knack for slicing wickets at the top. Also the most magnificent #Movember man in NZ cricket with a handlebar tache to put Merv Hughes to shame.
Jamie Brown 7 wickets in 7 games at ER 4.88
Ronnie Hira 7 wickets from just 4 games, the recalled veteran with the 80s-style mirror specs coming in after the BLACKCAPS snatched away Will Somerville and making a big impact, 4-46 in the last match
Ben Horne is the top wicketkeeper in this year’s Ford Trophy with 20 dismissals (17 catches, 2 stumpings) and the best off-the-wall chat. Never a dull moment with the pedigree Hornet, but he’s also showing a serious side with his ability to build partnerships from the top with his bat. Putting in a case for the Aces’ MVP this summer.
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