The third round of the Senior Twenty20 competition encompassed the extremes of this format with Timaru scraping home against Celtic with one ball and one wicket to spare, while Temuka won their match with Star by nine wickets and Waimate were equally as dominant beating Geraldine by over 50 runs.
Celtic batted first at home on ‘The Rock’ against Timaru and were quickly looking to run singles at every opportunity, but this soon led to the demise of an almost ‘gazelle-like’ Ryan De Joux when a direct hit from Jordy Morrow spoiled his day. Andy Scott batted well for his 34 but like many of the batsmen who followed, found it hard to get his timing right. Double figure contributions from James Laming, Bruce Carlaw and Jeremy Anderson kept the score ticking over, but Celtic would have been disappointed to only score 117 after being 99-6 at one stage with Grant Watt (11) the only real contributor from a long tail.
For Timaru Robbie Rankin was the most successful bowler leading the way by taking 3 wickets for only 4 runs at a crucial time which certainly slowed any momentum Celtic had been building. Hayden Butler also took three wickets and Morrow two.
However, it wasn’t just the bowling performance that kept Timaru in contention, it was their fielding which was certainly better than has been witnessed most of the season as the players took all their catches as well as backing up and supporting the throwers, and they would have been hoping to carry this enthusiasm into their batting as they faced a weakened Celtic bowling attack with six players away on rep duty.
Timaru started slowly, although a chase of under six an over is not considered tough, but Willie Scott soon had removed both openers with the score only 16 and already it seemed like being a close run thing. When the evergreen Grant Watt bowled Kris Howes for 7 the advantage was probably swinging Celtic’s way, but Timaru’s new recruit via President’s Grade and Australia Peter Grady had different ideas as he settled in. Grady picked the ball to punish and kept Timaru in the game before trying to go aerial into the wind and was well caught on the long off boundary for 44.
By this stage Grady had put Timaru in a position where they just needed to play normal cricket and push the singles to obtain victory, but as often happens, comments made in mid wicket talks are disregarded when back facing the bowler as more batsmen holed out into the wind. James Laming then took a brilliant caught and bowled to dismiss a comfortable looking Zane Sanders for 12 and the momentum began to shift yet again as Timaru teetered at 98-7.
Celtic now ran into a problem with who was to be the fifth bowler, and this job ended up being shared by Tim Leonard and Andy Scott with Scott taking on the job of bowling the vital last over. Leonard bowled a good 19th over dismissing Morrow and when the last over began Timaru still needed 4 runs but only had two wickets in hand. The rule books came out as a tied match was considered and whether a bowl off would be needed and the players became even more nervous when Scott had Rankin trapped lbw early in the over. The pressure grew further as 3 runs were still required with 3 balls remaining but then off the second last ball Josh Smallridge drove down to long off for an easy two runs and victory with a ball to spare and Timaru became the only team to have beaten Celtic in any form of cricket this season.
At Mountainview, Star will be wondering about their future home ground after only scoring 113 from their 20 overs against a Temuka side without Kevin Teahen. Chris Anders with 31 was the only Star batsman to show much form while Les Humphris was back to his best taking 3-12 with the ball and he had good support from Dillon Lees and Rory Lorimer with two wickets apiece.
Temuka decided to stick with the in-form bowlers and Lees and Humphris opened the batting too, and Humphris capped off a great day to finish unbeaten on 52 when Temuka passed the Star total in the 17th over for the loss of only the one wicket (Lees for 16). He had a steady partner in Richard Opie who finished not out 31 as Temuka got themselves back into the competition with two rounds to play.
Waimate travelled to Geraldine and were looking to change the outcomes after two narrow losses in the previous rounds and despite losing the toss were asked to bat first. Nathan Sew Hoy with 31 got things going, and Glenn Drake with 17 also contributed, but it was captain Jason Sew Hoy with 52 batting at No 5 who really helped Waimate push the score along. Alan Reid and Craig Booth kept the score ticking over and Matt Devlin hit 18 not out at the end to allow Waimate to score an imposing 154-8.
Geraldine’s reply was in trouble when they lost George Harper for 7 but Michael King (16) and Gary Muff who top-scored with 20 put together a 42 run partnership, but this was to be the last partnership of any significance as the introduction of Drake to the bowling crease spun Geraldine into turmoil as he took 5-22 in his four over spell, a rare feat in Twenty20 cricket. At 91-9 it was almost over and 14 year old senior debutant Jacob Wilson took his first senior wicket and Geraldine were dismissed for 99.
With the final two rounds to be played next weekend before the finals, the competition is still wide open with Celtic, Timaru and Geraldine on 8 points and Waimate, Temuka and Star on 4 points. There are numerous scenarios and it is likely that the final positions will not be known until after the final game and players will be keeping a close eye on possible outcomes throughout the day.
G Drake 5-22
L Humphris 52*
J Sew Hoy 52