South Canterbury came away with the points after two days at Pleasant Point Domain in their Hawke Cup match with North Otago.
South Canterbury captain Jake Naylor won the toss and decided to bat first, a decision that was rewarded by his team as they scored an imposing 400-9 declared, with Phil Lill batting at No 7 the top-scorer with 75. Half centuries to Matt Brown (66), Josh Smallridge (62), Liam Beck (61) and debutant William Sharp (59no) all helped in the total. A great effort, but a couple of lads may rue missing the opportunity to notch up a century.
Declaring with an hour left on the first day South Canterbury had 17 overs to inflict some damage after keeping North Otago in the field all day and had them 33-1 at stumps.
Day 2 dawned with moisture around (not surprising in the last month) and a start was delayed until 11.30 and this meant with a compulsory finish time on Sundays of 7pm, 8 overs were lost from play.
However the breakthrough came in the 3rd over of the morning as the familiar sight of ct AJL Beck (the keeper) b SG Mair began appearing in the scorebook. It would happen 4 times in the innings as Stan Mair picked up yet another 5 wicket bag finishing with 5-42 from his 21.2 overs.
He was supported by Mark Otley who toiled hard at the other end bowling 26 overs to take 2-79. Craig Hinton and Will Sharp each bowled without luck and nor did Liam Beck find any in a three over stint.
North Otago after being 54-3 then had a 131 run partnership as Lew Johnson showed his class and had good support from Jeremy Smith despite a rain break before the introduction of the off-spin of Phil Lill created the breakthrough when a circling overhead catch was taken in the deep by Matt Brown to dismiss Johnson for a fine 88.
Francois Mostert, so often South Canterbury’s nemesis joined Smith and they added 20 before Otley got through Smith’s defenses to remove him for 53 and the team spirit was rising again.
30 runs later Lill took a great caught and bowled to dismiss Mostert for 36 and North Otago were 232-6 and it was game on.
It got even better as Lill dismissed the new batsman four balls later and at 232-7 North Otago looked very vulnerable all of a sudden and Lill’s spell finished with important wickets and tidy figures of 3-43.
More runs were added but Mair cleaned up the tail as North Otago were dismissed in the 78th over for 278.
Still over 100 runs behind and with a couple of hours of play left Naylor asked North Otago to bat again. While it seemed an outright would be unlikely, funny things can happen and after Mair removed the North Otago captain Jeremiah Shields for 11 anything was still possible.
30 runs later Sharp picked up his first Hawke Cup wicket and then Craig Hinton was finally rewarded for a great spell by removing the dangerous Johnson for just 1, but with nothing more happening quickly the match was called off a little after 6pm with South Canterbury taking the 8 points for a first innings win.
A game played in good spirit between the two sides, who both seemed pleased to get some cricket after a month off, and accepting that playing on an artificial was much more enjoyable that watching from the sideline.
Also a big thank you to the groundstaff and club members at Pleasant Point Cricket Club for the help in running this match. Their help and the “crate day” supporters on day 1 certainly added to the atmosphere.
Next up for South Canterbury is Otago Country at Molyneux Park in Alexandra in a fornight, where this weekend Otago Country easily took first innings points off Hawke Cup holders Southland, but a better second innings by Southland following on denied Otago Country outright points, so this match will have a lot on it as districts look for the right to a challenge.