Tom Bruce celebrates reaching his century in Napier | all images: MButcher

Tom Bruce rewrites first-class history

On the penultimate day of his 2021/22 season, Central Stags batsman Tom Bruce achieved a feat unique in the 115-year history of New Zealand's Plunket Shield.

Bruce became first batsman to score double centuries in consecutive innings or matches in our national first-class championship, backing up his unbeaten 208* against Northern Districts in the COVID-cancelled match in Whangarei last week with another unbeaten innings of 204* on Thursday this week in Napier, against the champions elect, the Auckland Aces.

Bruce's century at Cobham Oval (below) had been a drought-breaker for the classy former BLACKCAPS T20 representative, his first at first-class level since 2016/17.

But the personal century drought has turned into a flood with the remarkable twin double hundreds coming off the back of an unbeaten 90* against Canterbury in Palmerston North where he had been just 10 runs from a coveted fifth career hundred when his captain had declared.

The three innings have seen him spend a total of 1,175 minutes (19.58 hours) at the crease.

Said Bruce, "It hasn't really sunk in yet but I was pretty happy to be not out in those last three innings, against three quality sides. I was really proud of that achievement.

"I felt more nervous in Whangarei as I was getting closer to my first century because it had been a while, and then to convert it to a double was awesome. I sort of felt a little less pressure this week, but to back it up - I was really stoked.

"Our plan was bat all day and then put Auckland in for a little period before stumps and it was nice to actuallly go out there and execute it. A good day's work for the boys.

NZC statistician Francis Payne notes that the 30-year-old Te Kuiti-born, Taranaki batsman is the first New Zealand player to amass 500 first-class runs without being dismissed, and that Bruce now has 858 runs in first-class Plunket Shield cricket this season at a scorching average of 143!

Bruce has also overtaken Otago Volt Nick Kelly as the Plunket Shield top run-scorer this summer, and now has an overall career first-class average that has zoomed up by several notches in the space of two games to 47.13.

Bruce's achievement was assisted by Josh Clarkson who batted alongside him for the bulk of the third day at McLean Park, Clarkson reaching his maiden first-class half century en route to his own career-best first-class score of 83.

The pair put on 191 for the sixth wicket.

"I think Clarkie's a great player and it was really great to see him perform in the first-class arena like that," said Bruce.

"I was really gutted for him not to get to three figures as well, but it was an absolutely awesome partnership that we shared and I had a lot of fun out there with him."

Clarkson then took a wicket before bad light ended play to have the Auckland Aces 9/1 in their second innings, trailing the Central Stags by 185 runs.

The Auckland Aces headed into this match undefeated after five wins and a draw, but now require a big effort today to maintain the undefeated status.

For further information on the match and day's play in Napier, see our match report






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