Outright victory by 8 wickets for South Canterbury over Buller in the latest round of the Hawke Cup means that the 08/09 campaign is definitely on track, and reverses a disappointing result against Buller last season.
New coach Richard Davidson said that “not only was the team meeting season plans and aspirations, but game by game match plans were also being carried out”.Buller won the toss and decided to bat first on the Geraldine Oval, a decision that appeared vindicated as the opening batsmen added 55 runs for the first wicket before wicketkeeper Luke Taylor took the first of his 6 catches for the match.
Dan Laming then removed the other opener soon after and proceeded to pick up the next 3 wickets in a great spell as he took 4-41 including traditional nemesis Troy Scanlon for only 9. Add a timely run out by Grant Brookland and SC soon dismissed Buller who collapsed from 97-3 to be all out for for 135. Except for 2 overs by Todd Elliotte only the three bowlers were used and they all returned good figures with Craig Hinton taking 3-40 and Kevin Teahen 2-41.
Ben Millar was out without troubling the scorers but then Craig Davies and Julian Danby added 60 for the 2nd wicket as SC set about gaining a sizeable lead.
Once again Julian Danby thrived in his debut season as he scored a century to follow up his previous innings of 87. His 118 came off 190 balls and included 1 six and 10 fours. He added a further 84 in partnership with Dan Laming (39) and was the 6th SC batsman out when the total was at 201.
The loss of 3 further wickets quickly after Danby’s dismissal saw the declaration come at 213-9 giving South Canterbury a 78 run lead and first innings points.
Two early breakthroughs by Craig Hinton kept hopes of an outright high as Buller lost both openers while still 50 runs in arrears, but this time the resistance came from A Duncan and Troy Scanlon as they both went on to post fifties adding 97 runs for the 3rd wicket.
This time it was tireless workhorse Teahen who got the breakthrough, dismissing both batsmen. Over the two days Teahen bowled 42 overs and took 5-121, a marathon effort for a medium pacer. Hinton added to his impressive tally with 2-19, while the Laming brothers kept scoring at a minimum.
At one stage while Buller, who played the match in good spirit, while scoring at a good rate looked as though they may declare and try to turn the game around if SC lost quick wickets during the chase. However, the decision was taken out of their hands after Todd Elliotte finished a long spell, that at times included very enticing deliveries (presumably to speed the scoring rate up) by cleaning up the lower order as he took 4-68 from 28 overs.
This meant that with 23 overs left in the days play SC needed to score 151 to win outright at a rate of more than 6.5 runs per over.
Not daunted SC opened with the in form (and in luck) Danby and Davies and they thrived as they set about the chase. The pair added 70 for the first wicket before Davies was out for 48 in the 10th over. Danby continued to ride his luck (he was dropped 8 times during the match) as he blasted an unbeaten 62 from 47 balls in partnerships with Luke Taylor, who produced a cameo 18, and Dan Laming with 21 not out to let South Canterbury secure outright victory with 2 overs to spare.
Now that both the West Coast and Buller have been beaten outright, SC only need a similar result against Mid Canterbury on the 10th January in Ashburton to be playing the zone final against Canterbury Country in Timaru the following weekend. SC has already beaten Mid Canterbury convincingly this season in the Biggar Memorial one day fixture, so should be able to approach the next match confidently.
Part of the ‘season plan’ may see an interesting scenario if an outright victory is achieved over Mid Canterbury. Rain the following weekend could see SC qualify top above Canterbury Country, although I am sure SC would like to beat them properly before going on to contest the South Island play-off.