[singlepic id=84 w=320 h=240 float=right]Celtic’s quest for a triple crown in senior cricket has started well after a superlative fielding display in poor light and drizzle enabled them to easily quell the Star challenge in the final of the Twenty20 competition played at Aorangi Oval on Saturday.

Weather that gave the finals ‘four seasons in one day’ made every match different. In the earlier playoff matches, the Timaru vs Geraldine match was probably the most exciting for the spectators with the outcome and 3rd place for Timaru only decided on the last ball, while the playoff to avoid last spot between Waimate and Temuka had the best time of day to play in glorious sunshine and this was reflected in the scores as Waimate scored 175, the highest team score of the day, and kept Temuka to 156.

The final match did not get under way until 5.00pm after scheduling hiccups meant games had gone well over time. Celtic won the toss and immediately followed what had already proved to be a winning formula for the day by batting first.

The much anticipated showing of Ryan De Joux and his ‘rhino bat’ came to little after the Star tactics of opening the innings with Todd Elliotte’s off-spin and the medium pace of Mark Evans worked well as Celtic slumped to 13-2. Elliotte bowled out and ended with very good figures of 1-18 off his four overs.

Unfortunately for Star this brought Craig Davies to the middle to join his captain Andy Scott and they quickly set about resurrecting the innings as Davies got the scoreboard ticking over on his way to 52 and the pair added 82 runs before Davies was well caught on the boundary by Phil McGregor. Scott continued on to make a solid 36 before Michael King made up for an error and took the second chance offered.

Star made another breakthrough shortly after when McGregor again took a catch on the deep mid wicket boundary, but this only brought the Laming brothers together. The nemesis of many opposing teams over the years, today was no different as they added 47 runs in better than even time to allow Celtic to post 162, a very good target as the overcast conditions meant light at best was now poor, with the scorer’s light showing out like a beacon.

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Star’s chase began well with young openers Simon Ward and Alexander McKenzie beginning confidently. However just as McKenzie looked to be going well he was bowled trying to make room for himself by Sam Carlaw and the first wicket fell at 28. In the final wash-up this turned out to be the best Star partnership as the team struggled to break the tightening Celtic stranglehold on the match.

Todd Elliotte was striking the ball well when the first of many brilliant catches was taken by James Laming diving full length forwards to catch a ball at square leg that if he had missed would most likely have meant a visit to the dentist to save his teeth. Craig Davies then joined the act to remove top scorer Ward for 22 with a caught and bowled and Star were suddenly 72-4.

Not wanting to let Star off the hook, Andy Scott made what turned out to be an ‘inspired’ change of bowler bringing Ants De Joux on to bowl what would become a devastating spell as he took 4 wickets for 4 runs off one and a half overs. He will argue it was his bowling prowess, but he would not begrudge the support of his fielders. First it was Dan Laming who decided he wouldn’t be outdone by his brother as he hurled himself parallel to the ground to take a great catch in his left hand and Andrew McRae was on his way back to the pavilion for 21.

James responded to his brother’s challenge by taking two more great catches on the boundary. That he could pick the ball up in flight, let alone catch it in the damp and dark conditions amazed the onlookers who by now only knew it had gone in his direction because he had dived, and then miraculously arose arms aloft to claim another scalp. Star was dismissed for 97 and a jubilant Celtic was soon celebrating their dominance after winning by 65 runs.

[singlepic id=81 w=320 h=240 float=right]The play-off for 3rd place was played when the bitingly cold southerly wind was at its worst and Timaru batted first. Grant Brookland’s good season continued as he scored 30, but Kris Howes’ love for final’s cricket at Aorangi was again evident as he was the dominant batsman scoring an unbeaten 75 and helped his team to 160-7. For Geraldine Andrew Coombes returned his best senior bowling taking 2-19 off his four overs.

English pro Matt Barnes took the responsibility for the chase on and opened the batting for Geraldine. He lost his partner with 1 on the board but when the score was 45-3 he was joined by Michael King and together they got Geraldine into a position to challenge. The 93 run partnership was broken when Barnes was out for 75 but King continued on. Gary Muff came and went in the last over when the score had reached 156 and 5 further runs were still needed.

The experience of Howes (1-16) who bowled the final over was shown as King was generally kept off strike and although he brought up his 50 (like Barnes off only 35 balls) when the final ball came Geraldine still needed 3 runs to win, or 2 to enforce a bowl off, but unfortunately for them, the 1 run they scored meant they lost by 1 run.

Temuka asked Waimate to bat in the first game of the day and were 24-2 before Todd Bailey (37) and Glen Drake (26) got the score going. At 102-7 Waimate looked like posting a small total but then Jason Sew Hoy struck the fastest 50 of the day off only 22 balls and a 63 run partnership with Matt Devlin (30 not out) during the final six overs meant Waimate set 176 for Temuka to win.

Temuka began similarly to Waimate and were 74-2 at the 10 over mark similar to Waimate’s 68-2 at the same stage. Chris Opie (run out for 63) and Ritchie Preston (43) added 64 for the 3rd wicket, but when Preston was out after a 41 run partnership with Paul Coles the Temuka challenge wilted and gave Waimate the win.

Honours Board:
K Howes 75*
M Barnes 75
C Opie 63
J Sew Hoy 57
C Davies 52
M King 51*

Scoresheets

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