Sean Eathorne again proved a thorn in the side of the South Canterbury bowling attack, as he led North Otago to a crucial first innings win in their Hawke Cup round-robin match at Aorangi Oval.
The one-time Otago representative’s 172 equalled the highest ever score by a North Otago batsman, and ensured his side was the only team which could win the match, after the first day.
South Canterbury’s total of 213, in the first innings, was not enough on the flat deck.
Five players got over 20, but not one got past 50.
Openers Craig Davies and Richie Preston put on 47 for the first wicket, but they were both back in the pavilion when the score was 63.
North Otago bowler Ben Cant dismantled the South Canterbury top order, taking four of the first five wickets, reducing the home team to 110 for five.
It took two of the younger members of the ‘green and blacks’ in Jacob Naylor and Sam Carlaw, to show some fight.
Naylor was lucky to be out there, after the surprise omission of Srinivas K S, who was not allowed to play by his club.
The duo combined for an eighth- wicket stand of 74, before Carlaw was out for 41, with the score on 209.
The tail did not wag, thanks to James Horrell, who mopped up the last four wickets, finishing with four for 37.
Cant finished with figures of four for 31, while Naylor was left stranded on 41.
South Canterbury left-arm quick bowler Craig Hinton got two much-needed breakthroughs, early, for the home team, but Cant and Eathorne combined to make sure North Otago took first day honours. Despite the late wicket of Cant, for 67, North Otago finished on 145 for three, just 68 runs from taking first innings points.
Pace-bowler Glenn Mathews was only able to bowl two overs of his first spell before a hamstring complaint forced him out of the bowling attack for the rest of the game.
Eathorne started day two eagerly, and quickly pushed on from his overnight score of 58, as the South Canterbury bowlers struggled to contain him.
Duncan Drew came and went for 19, before Eathorne shared in another century stand, this time with wicketkeeper Mitchell Clarke.
Eathorne brought up his century from 162 balls, and refused to stop.
The 116-run partnership came to an end, with Clarke dismissed for 59.
The North Otago captain found enough allies after lunch to increase the scoring rate, as he rode his luck.
He was eventually dismissed after hitting 17 boundaries, facing 260 balls, and spending more than five hours at the crease.
South Canterbury had a deficit of 150 to make up.
Craig Davies was dismissed for a duck, but Richie Preston fought hard on his way to 54.
When he was dismissed after a 72-run, third-wicket partnership with Dan Laming, the captain combined with Naylor in an unbroken 56-run stand.
Laming finished on 68, while Naylor managed 23, before the match was called off, just before the final hour of play was to begin.
South Canterbury coach Richard Davidson offered few excuses for his team’s poor first innings.
“The first innings batting, that’s what let us down, you just can’t afford to do that, it wasn’t good enough.
“Good to show a bit of heart with Sam (Carlaw) and Jake (Naylor) at the end there, but it’s a tough ask from there.”
Davidson said he hoped Mathews would be right to play against Mid-Canterbury in South Canterbury’s next Hawke Cup match, in Ashburton.