THE loss of play on the first day of the penultimate round of senior cricket meant matches were played under new rules on the second day, with teams chasing first innings and bonus points only.
These rules were put in place to stop teams manipulating the controls, as has happened before, with captains contriving situations by agreeing to early declarations and then playing the second innings, with the winner gaining the opportunity of picking up an outright result in the second innings and the extra points available.
As it turned out, only Star were able to get a first innings result this round after cleaning Temuka out for 59 and then reaching their target for the loss of only 4 wickets, while in Waimate the home side and Celtic never made it onto the park and the Timaru vs Geraldine match was also a draw after play was finally abandoned at 5.50pm.
Temuka batted first and were soon in deep trouble as Craig Hinton and Jeremy Lane bowled tightly to have Temuka 22-5 before Adrian Cunningham found someone willing to hang around with him. Cunningham batted for more than two hours for his 15 runs, and what was a ‘breezy’ 27 in the conditions by Richard Opie was the only other innings in double figures.
Hinton bowled unchanged to take 4-16 off 16 overs while Lane grabbed 3 wickets as did Hamish Dickson who cleaned up the tail impressively to take 3-6.
With Star hoping to take advantage of Temuka’s demise and consolidate their position at the top of the table, they needed to score the runs required before the rain became too heavy and the match abandoned. Rain was falling by the time they were 25-2, but Tom Bouch who opened and top scored with 25 almost saw Star home before they finally won on the first innings in their 14th over.
At Ashbury Park, Geraldine won the toss and batted first against. Even allowing for the wet outfield, scoring was slow and many batsmen didn’t run as well as they might have after expecting good shots to go all the way to the boundary, and suddenly having them pull up.
Ben Millar got things under way with 24 and Matt Barnes returned to form with 63 before being caught and bowled by wily old campaigner Chris Leonard who now thinks Barnes is his ‘bunny’ after dismissing him twice this season! (Shame about the runs conceded first). Most of the other Geraldine batsmen got starts and Chris Esh 10 not out and young Harry Millar 12 not out were looking to improve their averages when rain eventually stopped play after 53 overs with Geraldine 161-7.
Hayden Leonard got through 18 overs and took two wickets while Chris Leonard capped off a good day with a caught and bowled to take his ‘bag’ from only seven overs. Robbie Rankin finally had an lbw answered affirmatively and Kris Howes was the other successful bowler.
Timaru were obviously keen to continue, while it suited Geraldine to stop, but eventually captains agreed and play was abandoned for the day with Timaru and Geraldine both accumulating almost identical points from the match.
With the final round starting next weekend, theoretically every team still has a chance of making the final although Waimate, Celtic and Temuka would need to score maximum points and want Timaru and Geraldine who are close behind competition leaders Star to score none. Waimate are to play Geraldine and could help or hinder their progress to the final, while the local derby between Star and Timaru will like last season be the crucial match of the round and could yet be a precursor to the final if Timaru can gain first innings points, or possibly an outright.