Greg Hay scored an epic 189 in his swansong match | MBUTCHER

Plunket Shield going down to the wire!


New Zealand’s first-class cricketers are heading into the final day of the season, with the Plunket Shield to be presented to either Northern Districts or the Wellington Firebirds later today - and both teams still in with a good shout.

Northern Districts hasn’t lifted this coveted national trophy in 12 years.

They’ll begin the last day hunting for six remaining wickets in a hurry at Seddon Park - and hoping that the weather plays ball, while the Firebirds, at 127/4 overnight in their second innings, hold an overall lead of 88 runs.

The Firebirds stumbled just before stumps yesterday, losing two quick wickets. Set batter Tim Robinson (44) was bowled by ND captain and part-time spinner Jeet Raval, and nightwatchman Peter Younghusband fell to fellow spinner Freddy Walker.

That meant a second nightwatchman (Ben Sears) saw out the remains, with plenty of batting to come and Nick Kelly 28 not out as the Wellingtonians set their own sights on reclaiming the Shield after four years.

Should the match end in a draw, the Firebirds will be declared champions, having taken enough first innings points from this game to stay ahead of ND on the table in that scenario.

For ND, it’s an outright victory or bust — and wicketkeeper Tim Seifert gave his team just what they needed yesterday with his seventh first-class century, top-scoring with 104 and slapping six sixes along the way in ND’s second innings total of 362.

He conjured up a century stand for the sixth wicket with fellow aggressive stroke-maker Brett Hampton (70) before leg-spinner Younghusband,  NZC’s Domestic men’s player of the year Nathan Smith (3/57) and fellow allrounder Logan van Beek (3/72) fought back with the last wickets.


In Napier, Central Stags captain Greg Hay is heading into the final day of his career.

Hay reached 179 yesterday — the third highest knock of his career, a swansong century and his 18th for his team.

The respected top order veteran batted across three days in a 10-hour marathon to help his team surpass 500 on the board for the third time this summer, the first time the Stags have done so.

They will resume today holding the upper hand with the Otago Volts 78/3, the visitors trailing overall by 193 runs.

Hay will retire from the game at the end of this match as his team’s second highest all-time runscorer in first-class cricket, with the second highest tally of centuries, second most appearances, and as one of just two Stags captains — alongside Vic Pollard in the 1960s — to have twice raised the Plunket Shield as skipper.

NZC statistician Francis Payne reports that Hay fell just one run short of equalling a quirky New Zealand record that has stood since 1918/19 for the highest score in one’s final first-class match.

The Stags’ first innings total of 580 at McLean Park was the highest by any team this season.

It surpasses the 572/9 declared the same team set against the Firebirds two weeks ago in a weather-impacted draw in Palmerston North. It was also the fourth highest total in the team’s 73-year first-class history, and included career best performances from Will Clark (66) and Blair Tickner (46 not out), and a half century from Ajaz Patel (51) after Hay was finally caught off spinner Ben Lockrose.

Nightwatchman Travis Muller and Jamal Todd will resume the Otago Volts’ final innings today, both yet to get off the mark.


In Auckland, Canterbury got to put their feet up early after clinically wrapping up victory inside three days against the Auckland Aces at Eden Park’s Kennards Hire Community Oval.

Jordan Sussex’s mind-bending eight-for in their first innings wasn’t enough for his side who went on to a six-wicket defeat after struggling for momentum in their second innings.


Sharp Canterbury paceman Sean Davey took 4/82 as he blasted out the lower order and restricted the Aces to 257 in the second innings, setting Canterbury a chase of 232 for victory.


Canterbury reached that target without too much trouble, after brisk contributions from all their top four, Rhys Mariu top-scoring with an unbeaten 62. 

Taking 17 of the possible 20 points from the match, Canterbury now sit in interim third spot on the table. However, an outright victory to the Stags today would see Canterbury drop back into fourth.



10.30am, Sunday 24 to Wednesday 27 March, 2024

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