The inaugural South Canterbury Cricket Speights Twenty20 cricket competition at the Aorangi Bowl was an outstanding success with fine weather, a few hundred spectators and a final where Alexander McKenzie struck a six off the last ball to bring up his century and give the win to the King’s Servants over the Southern Playboys.

The first match got under way at 10am between the Servants and the Ashbury Park Rangers and the Servants, managed by Harvey King and including a lot of promising young players as well as new chairman Andrew McRae, former SC fast bowler Struan George and current SC opening bowler Craig Hinton.

Batting first they impressed with their running between the wickets from the start and the partnership of 88 between Mark Tutton (32) and Liam Crowley (47) set them up for a large total. Crowley was especially damaging taking 30 runs off one hapless bowler. Both batsmen fell and then Matt Mealings with 45 and Hayden Matthews (28) took the score through to 181, and eventually this allowed King’s Servants to score 189-6, an imposing total in 20 overs.

The Ashbury Park Rangers set about the chase positively with opener Tom Bouch bringing up the first fifty of the day off only 40 balls and including five fours and two sixes. Tight bowling by Hinton, two wickets to Sam Devlin and a tidy spell from spinner Sam Carlaw meant the run chase was quickly climbing, and with some outstanding fielding, a feature of the day by all teams, pressure was applied and Tim Mackle (31) and Jordy Morrow (20) were both run out as they tried to keep the scoreboard ticking. In the end the Rangers could only make 156-6, falling 33 runs short and couldn’t replicate Crowley’s big over to keep them in the hunt.

The second match between the Northern Sloggers and the Southern Playboys was a much lower scoring match, with the bowlers keeping a tight rein on proceedings. Matt Sew Hoy returned the best figures with 3-15, but Dan Laming showed his all round class taking a great caught and bowled with the ball mere inches from the ground, and then later following through and running a player out with a direct hit. Laming took 3-18 while Grant Watt with 2-24 and Alan Reid 1-23 both showed their experience against batsmen on the charge.

Julian Danby got the Sloggers under way with 32 but the middle order let the side down and it wasn’t until Chris Esh with 23 and Dillon Lees not out 32 came together adding 47 for the ninth wicket that they managed to post a competitive target of 131.

The Southern Playboys showed their intentions immediately as Nathan Sew Hoy came down the pitch and hit Kevin Teahen for 6 over long leg from the first delivery of the innings. There was no respite when he was out shortly later, as Dan Laming joined Andy Scott and together they soon dispelled any worries Playboy supporters may have had adding 102 for the next wicket before Scott spooned one back to the bowler in sight of victory. Laming continued with his form of the previous week eventually scoring an unbeaten 82 including 5 sixes and 9 fours as the Playboys won in the sixteenth over.

This meant that a now rather raucous crowd would be watching a final between the Kings Servants and Southern Playboys, despite an effort by the ground announcer to muddle the names, but with things happening so quickly the umpires, scorers and organizers should all be commended for their efforts.

The Playboys batted first and after some wild swings Sew Hoy did connect and one spectator, although on crutches managed to leave his seat before the ball cannoned into it. Dan Laming couldn’t repeat his earlier performance and this time it was Andy Scott and Luke Taylor (35) who added 80 runs for the third wicket. Scott went on to cap off a fine double top scoring with 65, while Jason Sew Hoy with 18 and an entertaining 21 by Alan Reid saw the Playboys post 172-2.

Struan George with 2-28, Sam Carlaw with 1-28 and Hinton with 1-30 were the successful bowlers.

The dismissals of Tutton and Crowley cheaply had the Playboys on top and the required run rate was soon ballooning out, but McKenzie and Mealings were slowly getting themselves in and suddenly the buzz around the ground was that maybe these guys could upset the favourites.

Mealings scored an unbeaten 48 to cap off a great day after his 45 earlier, but it was ‘Alpal’ McKenzie who again showed that he likes batting at Aorangi as he set about scoring all around the oval. The Servants needed in excess of 9 runs an over with 10 overs to play and this had gone out past 10 when they only had five overs left, but wickets in hand gives the batsmen the courage to play their shots and McKenzie certainly took advantage. He didn’t play always for boundaries but good placement allowed him to regularly pick up twos and at worst a single and the onlookers were on their toes as a win looked likely.

With nine runs required McKenzie was on 94, a score he had been left stranded on for SC during the last Hawke Cup match, and then 2 leg byes didn’t help his cause, nor losing the strike to Mealings who was nearing his own milestone of fifty. Two runs and a single to McKenzie gave him the strike and the scores were tied with one over left and Laming to bowl. Mckenzie was on 97 and his team mates were hoping he could bring up a century, that no wides were bowled to deny him, and if he hit a boundary that the batsmen didn’t cross which would forfeit the boundary.

The man for the occasion, McKenzie lofted Laming over the wide long on boundary for six and his team (and manager) began the celebrations.

The South Canterbury Cricket Board who ran the game with the idea of encouraging cricket in the region will be pleased with the response while sponsors Speights and Xtreme certainly got good value for their money.

Fittingly, McKenzie cleaned up most of the prizes winning the MVP of the Day, Highest score and most sixes awards while getting to share in the $700 his team won for winning the tournament.

The runners up walk away with $300 and team member Matt Sew Hoy won the bowling award, while Andy Scott was the Southern Playboys MVP, Dillon Lees was the Northern Sloggers MVP and Hayden Leonard picked up the Ashbury Park Rangers MVP award.

Score Sheets

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