The first day’s play in the penultimate round of the Tweedy Cup, while not notable for the standard of cricket with the rep players away, was notable for a number of firsts as players and veterans stepped up to fill in places.
Leading the way was Grant Watt with two ‘firsts’. Known as an opening bowler, it would have been a surprise to the Timaru team when he strode to the wicket alongside Ryan De Joux to open the batting for Celtic, something he certainly has never done before. Perhaps he made the wrong career choice as a youngster, because Watt went on to chalk up another first by scoring a senior fifty and being the main contributor in an opening partnership of 94 on a difficult track.
Timaru were short of regular bowlers and when captain Hayden Butler broke down in his fourth over, their situation was marginalized even further, but aided by a ‘bowlers pitch’ with variable bounce and popping from one end it was still always difficult to bat and much more enjoyable to bowl on.
Robbie Rankin stood up for his team and was rewarded with his first senior 5 wicket bag after bowling steadily for 15 overs, while Josh Smallridge also bowled well to take 3-23 and they were well supported by 154 gullies (the combined age of the three fielders fielding there) in the field.
At one stage Celtic lost seven wickets for 24 runs before Jarrod Wooffindin and Willie Scott with a 56 run partnership got some respectability back to the score with Scott also achieving his highest senior score (27) along the way and eventually Celtic ended with a very respectable 182.
Timaru’s chase for first innings points was soon in disarray as they slumped to 53-6, and options such as declaring as soon as they had passed the follow on were discussed. The main reasoning behind this idea was to be able to get well into the Celtic batting lineup on this difficult pitch before the return of the Celtic rep players next week, negating the chance for some to bat.
However some lusty blows by Grant Bishop who finished 44 not out meant that Timaru batted through to the end of their innings and with 136, were only 46 runs behind. Batting a second time, Celtic had to take care over their batting order as they tried to protect returning players, but when stumps was called they had lost both Ryan and Ants De Joux but at 67-2 have already established a 113 run lead and would look favourites to add another outright win to their season.
In Geraldine, Star are pressing hard for first innings points after half centuries to Paul Arkinstall and Chris Anders helped them to 193-7 when the declaration came. In reply Geraldine led by Michael King with 56 are 141-6 with another 10 overs left before they have to declare, so it would seem likely that Star will get first innings points, but may struggle to have time to achieve an outright result to keep them in contention for the final, especially when there is no real incentive for Geraldine to declare behind.
In probably the game of the round Waimate and Temuka squared off in Temuka and an outright to either team would move them to outright second.
Waimate batted first and scored 172 with three batsmen scoring in the thirties, while Temuka’s Paul Coles with three wickets was well supported by Dillion Lees, Michael Geddis and Ritchie Preston with two apiece.
In reply Temuka have wickets in hand as they chase first innings points, but their scoring has been slow and with the score 119-5 with only eight overs to bat before the compulsory declaration, may also look at declaring behind, but not before Richard Opie currently 47 not out has a chance to score a fifty.
Next weekend will be very interesting as teams position themselves for results, but it seems likely that the second finalist will not be known until the end of the last round.
R Rankin 5-41
M King 56
C Anders 54*
G Watt 52
P Arkinstall 52