South Canterburycould have a new `Fairlie Flyer’ after the performance of 16-year-old schoolboy cricketer Ben Dunbar.
Dunbar who learnt his cricket in Fairlie and now plays for the TBHS 1st XI was the toast of South Canterbury as he took 6 wickets for only 11 runs in a devastating debut against Christchurch Suburban at Denton Park in Christchurch during the weekend, helping South Canterbury regain the Stokes/Blanchard Cup in the process.
Suburban won the toss and elected to bat on what turned out to be a very poor wicket with slow low bounce and some turn. Add this to a lush outfield and runs for batsmen were always going to be at a premium.
Matt Fielding who starred in their victory last season was again top scorer for Suburban, but this time only managed 19, and with the score at 51-3 his team looked like scoring perhaps 140 which would have certainly been competitive considering the conditions, but the introduction of the left arm pace of Dunbar soon altered the whole complexion of the match as his first breakthrough came from only his second delivery. Bowling in tandem with skipper Todd Elliotte the last 7 Suburban batsmen were removed in just 8.2 overs for the addition of only 20 runs as Suburban were dismissed for 72 in the 23rd over.
Earlier Glen Matthews (2-23) and Craig Hinton (1-26) had bowled 7 overs apiece, but Hinton’s main contribution in the field was snaffling 3 catches.
In reply South Canterbury kept Suburban in the game as opener Craig Davies and first drop Jeremy Liddy were back in the pavilion with only 9 on the board. Phil McGregor (10) found some support from James Laming as they added 25 for the third wicket before Laming was run out for 16 and then when McGregor was dismissed 6 runs later, South Canterbury were looking wobbly at 42-4.
How wobbly they would become soon became evident as four batsmen were dismissed in succession without scoring and Manager/Coach Richard Davidson wore out a pair of shoes marching back and forth around the boundary.
With the score perilously poised at 55-8 and an embarrassing defeat in the offing, Matt Mealings was joined by Craig Hinton and together they managed to acquire the further 20 runs required as Mealings again enjoyed the Suburban bowling attack (he top-scored with 63 in the same match last season) to finish 22 not out while Hinton struck a couple of boundaries to finish the match off and also remain not out.
Due to the ground and pitch conditions, it is hard to gauge whether the players gained much from a cricketing form perspective, but young Ben Dunbar should have gained confidence for the season ahead after his spell, while learning about the ‘mental’ side of the game as he witnessed how a team in trouble can resort to verbal spats as player camaraderie between the teams deteriorated after Suburban’s initial poor showing.
Next weekend South Canterbury will be playing on a much better pitch at Aorangi Oval against close rivals Mid Canterbury for the Ron Biggar Memorial followed a week later by a match with North Otago in their final hit out before the Hawke Cup begins.