A tenacious unbeaten century from opener Bill Walsh propelled South Canterbury out of early trouble in their 104-run win against North Otago in a 50-over match at Aorangi Park yesterday.
The Christchurch-based batsman saw five of his partners come and go before he found his stride, and an important ally, on his way to 108 not out.
South Canterbury’s batting trouble continued in the first 12 overs, with the home side reduced to 65 for five in overcast conditions on a good batting pitch.
North Otago’s Tim McCormick picked up three early wickets, while his new-ball partner Chris Ware grabbed two, including the dangerous Richie Preston, who hit 28 off 12 balls before departing.
Mark Tutton came to the crease to join Walsh in the 12th over and did not depart until the 44th.
The pair saw off the early danger then looked to prosper.
Tutton, who was not in the South Canterbury training squad at the start of the season, became the aggressor.
Both players went past 50, Tutton in 67 balls and Walsh in 97.
They lifted the scoring rate in the middle overs as their totals went run-for-run, and drops of rain started to fall.
The pair ran aggressively between the wickets, turning singles into twos at every opportunity, while Tutton in particular ensured boundaries came at the right time, as their partnership went past 150 runs.
Tutton was eventually dismissed for 78 off 85 balls, after a partnership of 165, which had taken the score through to 230 for 6 in the 44th over. His innings included six fours and two sixes.
Sam Carlaw came and went for one, but Walsh was guided through to his century by newcomer Dillon Lees.
Walsh’s 100 came in the 49th over after a 147-ball vigil, which included eight boundaries.
Lees opened his shoulders in the final over, taking 24 off it, to ensure South Canterbury made an imposing total of 285 for seven.
McCormick was the pick of the bowlers with four for 41, while Ware was eventually expensive, ending with two for 62.
North Otago’s reply started positively in persistent rain.
South Canterbury’s new ball attack of Tahir Afridi and Ben Watson were guilty of serving up boundary balls too easily.
The introduction of Craig Hinton saw Jeremiah Shields caught at first slip by Craig Davies after an opening stand of 62.
Opener Ben Cant held firm afterwards, but Hinton and Lees put the squeeze-on in the middle overs, as wickets fell and the run-rate slowed.
Hinton bowled his 10 overs on the trot, and finished with two for 20.
Lees’ debut continued to be memorable as he took three wickets, including the crucial one of Cant for 51, effectively ending North Otago’s chances of victory a long way from the end.
Sam Carlaw bamboozled the visitors late with a fine spell of left-arm spin to end up with three for six from 4.1 overs.
A quick-fire 42 off 44 balls from Paul Odell was not enough for North Otago as they were bowled out for 181 in the 43rd over.
South Canterbury assistant coach Robin Beeby said it was good to see two batsmen show how to construct an innings.
“They batted sensibly, controlled and played to their strengths, which is what they were told to do, so it’s good to see them listening and following through on the plan.”
Beeby said the bowling also impressed him, with Watson unlucky to have five catches dropped off his bowling.
He said the debut performance of Lees was “above expectations” with both bat and ball.
He said the captaincy of Preston “seemed very sound”, but it was the team’s commitment to each other which pleased him most.
The match was the last hit-out for South Canterbury before they meet North Otago in Oamaru in the Hawke Cup on December 10.
Photos from the match courtesy of Scott Cameron