One century and eight half centuries were scored in senior cricket on Saturday, but it was Hamish Drennan who was the toast of Geraldine at Aorangi Oval after he removed the first four Timaru batsmen and then compiled an important 39 with the bat to keep Geraldine’s final hopes alive with one round to play. All this despite his team mates’ best efforts to undo his good work by dropping Kris Howes early (he went on to make 91), being penalized for slow over rates, and having an opening batsman unable to come in until No 5 due to being off the field for too long.In the other matches Celtic held their position on top after making amends for their first round loss to Waimate, opener Craig Davies finally getting things to go his way this season with a century, while Star stayed with them in top spot after winning against Temuka in a match where more than 500 runs were scored on a lightning outfield at Mountainview High School.

As happened in most matches after winning the toss, Timaru batted first in the heat, hoping to set an imposing target and drain the enthusiasm of the opposition and then get the chance to bowl later in the day with a breeze or some cloud cover. After the bad start to be 49-4, Captain Hayden Leonard and Kris Howes set about posting a good total. Geraldine is not the first team to regret dropping Howes and the pair added more than fifty runs before Leonard was out for 16. Unfortunately, Leonard’s 16 runs turned out to be Timaru’s second best score and Howes had little other support as they eventually succumbed for 206.

Drennan led the Geraldine bowlers with his 4-32 but Tom McKnight bowled tightly to only concede 18 from his overs and Phil Chapman tidied up the tail with consecutive caught and bowled dismissals, one of which was a very good catch.

Geraldine started poorly and tight bowling by Howes and Leonard had players making bad decisions as they tried to pick up the almost stagnant run rate. It wasn’t until Stephen Pagan joined Guy Metcalf at 43-3 that things changed, adding 60 runs together. Metcalf went on to make 51 before losing his stumps and at 125-5 Geraldine still had a bit of work to do to beat Timaru for the second time this season.

Up stepped Drennan and in partnership with Reagan Tate they added a further 59 runs before Drennan was out, but the damage had been done as Chris Esh and Tate (34 not out) were able to chase down the remaining runs with 3 overs to spare.

I am unsure if the Star vs Temuka game was transferred to MVHS as a reward for their batsmen or a punishment for their bowlers, but a very strong Star lineup turned up to play, while Temuka were without stalwarts Kevin Teahen and Hayden Broker.

Phil McGregor relished the batting conditions on his way to 74 as his new year form continues (following scores of 50 and 49*), and he added 127 runs for the first wicket with new South Canterbury Cricket Chairman Andrew McRae who scored 44.

A double breakthrough and it was Paul Arkinstall and Chris Anders who got the chance to improve their averages adding 102 for the third wicket before Arkinstall was out for 62. Anders went on to score 57 not out as Star set Temuka 283 runs for victory.

Interpreting the Temuka body language, especially after a sloppy fielding display and having used nine bowlers in an effort to stem the flow of runs, one would have thought this game was all over bar formalities, but the shade of the tent soon revitalized Temuka and they came out fighting.
The first partnership was 55, the third 75 and all the batsmen got starts with Michael Geddis scoring 45, Julian Danby getting off his run of ‘goldies’ to score 43, after earlier keeping wicket and bowling a spell, while Ritchie Preston was in great touch making 59. Johnston added 40 to keep the chase alive but as the run rate climbed, wickets fell and despite 30 not out by Tom Walsh, Temuka fell 29 runs short after scoring a meritorious 253.

Davies (100) and Ryan de Joux (79) set the match up for Celtic in a huge opening partnership before Alan Reid was able to put some breaks on taking 4-28. The rest of the Celtic batsmen tried to score quickly without much luck, but still posted a challenging 272.

Waimate started positively and were 68-2 off 15 overs, but in the end was all out in the 33rd over for 150, more than 100 runs short despite Jason Sew Hoy with 51 again trying to pull them out of the fire. James Laming toiled hard and was rewarded with 4-16 off his nine overs but no doubt had mixed feelings of delight and exasperation as Sam Carlaw came on and took 4-4 off 2.2 overs to finish the match.

The final round of the One Day competition next weekend still has 5 teams able to make the final and will lead to some interesting scenarios, especially if more than one team ends up on the same points, when finalists are decided on the results in the round-robin matches, or if still tied then on net run rates.

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