01 Jul, Friday

All-round ACES stay top of Ford Trophy table


All-round ACES stay top of Ford Trophy table

Praneel HiraAces

The ACES remain at the top of the Ford Trophy table, but it took a fine all-round team effort to defeat Northern Districts by 58 runs at Eden Park’s Outer Oval.

Openers Jeet Raval and Will O’Donnell gave the ACES a flying start, racing out to 40/0 inside six overs. The first boundary came from a Raval pull before Will O’Donnell hit three boundaries in five balls.

Neil Wagner kept charging in for Northern Districts and picked up the wicket of Will O’Donnell, whose leading-edge flew to mid-on in the 7th over. When Craig Cachopa joined Raval at the crease, the Northern Districts’ bowlers tightened up and the pressure came on.

With the ACES going along nicely, Raval and Cachopa were both dismissed with the score on 70. First, Raval unluckily gloved a sweep behind his back to Anton Devcich at first slip. Then Cachopa lifted a short Brett Randell delivery straight to a waiting third man fielder.

The ACES were in need of a partnership. Finn Allen and Robbie O’Donnell kept the score moving as the pair worked into their innings. Soon enough, the ACES were on top. Allen picked his moments to attack on his way to a career-best 44 before Randell picked up his second wicket.

At 157/4, Ben Horne strode to the wicket and caressed his first ball through the covers for four. It didn’t stop there as Horne helped Robbie O’Donnell lift the scoring rate. O’Donnell brought up his fourth Ford Trophy half-century of the summer from 70 balls, going past 1000 List-A runs in the process. It was another important knock from the ACES’ number five.

When Robbie O’Donnell (61) edged Brett Hampton through to Peter Bocock, Horne took the responsibility of the death overs. The ACES’ wicketkeeper continued his fine week plundering 70 off 46, including 7 fours and 2 sixes. Kyle Jamieson (35* off 24 balls) bounced off Horne’s energy at the crease as the ACES took 50 from the final four overs to lift the total to 297/7.

Jamieson took heart from his knock and fired up with the ball, bagging both Northern Districts’ openers inside the first six overs. Joe Carter (29) and BJ Watling then steadied the Northern Districts’ ship by putting together a third-wicket stand of 85.

Skipper Cachopa turned to Louis Delport in the 20th over as the ACES searched of a breakthrough. The left-arm spinner delivered in his second over when Carter picked out Cachopa at mid-off. Watling formed another key partnership with Henry Cooper and the pair proceeded to keep the chase on track.

The ACES, however, showed few signs of looking flustered as Delport worked to lift the asking rate. Both players went past fifty; Watling, from 69 deliveries and Cooper, from 53. Just as the pair decided to take the ACES’ bowlers on, Jamieson intervened in spectacular fashion. Watling slog-swept Delport into the deep and Jamieson ran around the mid-wicket boundary, put in a full-length dive and hung on to a critical catch.

Pocock picked out Danru Ferns at long-on an over later as Delport (3-41) punctuated his unchanged ten-over spell by collecting his third wicket. The seamers came back into the attack knowing Cooper held the key for Northern Districts.

In the 42nd over, Cooper attempted to hit Matt McEwan over mid-off, as he had done on several occasions throughout his aggressive knock, only for the ball to end in the hands of Will O’Donnell. McEwan (3-52) and Ben Lister (2-32) then wiped away the Northern Districts tail trying to find the boundary.

In the end, Lister and McEwan combined for the final wicket to clinch a clinical 58-run win to keep the ACES at the top of the Ford Trophy table.