A swashbuckling unbeaten 79 from Glenn Matthews negated an unusually bowler-friendly pitch at Aorangi Oval and allowed Celtic to cruise to their sixth straight one-day competition victory with an eight-wicket win against Temuka on Saturday.
With a green pitch and cool, overcast skies, the Celtic seamers took full advantage of Temuka captain Hayden Broker’s choice to bat first.
They rolled them for 113 inside 41 overs and then chased down the small target inside 16 overs.
What proceeded after the toss was painful viewing for Magpie supporters.
Their trio of top batsmen were all dismissed with 58 on the board, as none of the batsmen had the confidence to go hard at the ball as it continued to swing and seam throughout the innings.
Ritchie Preston (12), Johnny Geddis (14) and Nick Horsley (7) were the prized wickets for the defending champions.
Horsley could consider himself a tad unlucky.
He edged a ball from Grant Watt which was caught by a diving Matthews, who at full stretch pouched it in his left glove for a superb catch not often seen at senior level. It was a deserved reward for Watt, whose right-arm seamers were unplayable. His nine overs conceded 13 runs, as the Temuka batsmen struggled to get any bat on most of his deliveries.
Temuka opener Adrian Cunningham tried to keep the innings together but he too struggled.
He made 21 runs in 28 overs at the crease.
With the Celtic seamers laying the foundation, spinner Sam Carlaw also enjoyed himself.
He conceded 13 runs from his nine overs, while part-timer Tom Pavletich mopped up the tail and finished with three for 15.
Celtic took a punt on Matthews opening the innings.
His unconventional, and at times agricultural, style paid dividends as he hit nine fours and six sixes.
In contrast, his partners struggled just like their Temuka opponents.
The three he batted with did not get into double figures.
Matthews was aggressive when no-one else wanted to be.
Englishman Matt Woods bowled well for Temuka. He beat the bat several times and finished with two for 33 from his eight overs.
Celtic’s tactic of trying to see him off and attack the end where Kevin Teahen and Nathan McNicol were bowling, kept most of their wickets intact.
Matthews guided the team to the target in the 16th over.
Celtic captain Craig Davies said they would have bowled first anyway, so the toss worked out well.
“You usually always bat first at Aorangi but when we saw it was green and the overcast conditions would have swayed us to bowl.
“Danny boy [Dan Laming] bowled well first-up and then everyone followed him and Watty bowled well in the middle for a straight nine [over spell].”
He said Matthews played a great innings.
“With the way the pitch was playing, you had to play your shots and he was the man to do it.”
Broker said his team were unhappy with the pitch.
“It was not acceptable for a final, that track,” he said.
“We were told last night that it wouldn’t move around.
“The Hawke Cup guys said it was green but wouldn’t move around and then it moved all over the place.
“You can’t play 45-over cricket on that. We’re not happy with it and you saw the way [Matthews] played and he played a good knock but that’s the way you had to play.
“Even their other guys struggled with it.”