Star supporters had visions of last season’s last minute demise as their team stuttered and gasped in their chase for first innings points and the right to play top qualifiers Geraldine in the final of the Tweedy Cup next weekend. Zane Sanders was doing his best for Timaru with a career best 7-71, but in the end Craig Hinton became the toast of the Star clubrooms as he lofted Sanders to cow corner for a four and the next ball for two runs to a similar position and Star gained the first innings points needed with two wickets still in hand.
The season draw played at perfectly with this match effectively becoming a semi-final. Captains and scorers changed hats to become mathematicians as the various possible outcomes were calculated and recalculated almost by the over. Needing 220 for a first innings win, Star were cruising at 142-2 after Paul Arkinstall (68) had added 99 runs for the second wicket with his captain Phil McGregor. McGregor who was playing the anchor role for his team continued on to make 43 and was the sixth wicket to fall, but the Star middle order let Sanders get on top as they slipped to be 162-6.
Old hands Todd Elliotte and Julian Blanchard then steadied the ship somewhat before Blanchard was out stumped with the score at 175 and 45 runs still required. Calculations at this stage showed that if Timaru did win on the first innings and taking the bonus points into consideration that at the end of the first innings, Timaru would now have a lead of 0.72 points and all second innings runs and wickets would be changing every time a run was scored or a wicket fell.
Paul Brohan joined Elliotte and between them had moved the score to 194-7 at tea with Elliotte 29 not out and Brohan 2 not out. Tea also allowed the fielding side to catch up on all the possible outcomes, but as so often happens with a break in an innings, Elliotte was caught out by a great catch to Grant Brookland in the covers shortly after tea with no addition to his score. 203-8 meant a further 17 runs were still required when Craig Hinton joined Brohan in the middle, while Timaru only needed two wickets.
Hinton has already been in this situation this season, almost seeing South Canterbury through to an upset win over Canterbury Country, but this time it was Brohan who also showed courage under fire as his innings grew, eventually making an invaluable 25, and importantly he was still there when Hinton hit the runs that gave Star first innings points and a lead of 11 points over Timaru, which basically meant the rest of the game was played out to satisfy rules requirements.
An exciting, edge of your seat match had a couple of incidents that took some of the pleasure out of the match. This can be mainly attributed to the lack of official umpires, and as a result, as the tension mounted, the player-umpires came under further scrutiny. Unfortunately, depending on which team one supported often meant how decisions, or non decisions were viewed, and comments passed on and off the field did nothing to improve the situation.
In the other two matches, after being 49-7 overnight Waimate put up a second innings fight to go on and score 178 after Todd Bailey scored his maiden senior fifty and Jason Sew Hoy finished off a great season by passing 500 runs on his way to 79 not out. Geraldine lost two wickets on their way to the 42 runs required, but was a deserving winner after their efforts on day one, and will be hoping all their players are available and back from University for next weekend’s final.
Celtic and Temuka played out their last match of the season on a much improved Rockdale Rd pitch this week, and with Celtic team funds (fines) doubled for the last day soon had them boosted after James Laming scored 59 and Matt Mealings 66, while Luke Taylor made the most of his new role as captain and lead the way scoring an unbeaten 89 before selflessly declaring in sight of his century and leaving Temuka an imposing 330 runs to win.
Helped by 70 runs to Ritchie Preston, Temuka put up a better showing second time around, but were eventually all out for 159 after James Laming capped off a good day at the office with 4 wickets while Sam Carlaw with 3 and Willy Scott 2 helped him out giving outright victory to Celtic.