Musings from Beyond the Boundary – 4 November

Musings from beyond the boundary – cricketing thoughts through the eyes of Trevor Auger, an Auckland Cricket Society and Supporters Club Member.

Another disappointingly damp Saturday to frustrate plenty of cricketers trying to get their seasons properly under way. The only thing worse than a Saturday where the showers roll through and you don’t quite know whether or when you’ll get out on the field, is having your cricket cancelled altogether at the start of the day.

Plenty happening in the wider cricket world though, with the White Ferns taking the honours this week, going 2-up in their ODI series against Pakistan in Sharjah. The first game will have given the team a bit of a fright with Pakistan pushing them very close to an upset loss.

With Sophie Devine leading the way, the New Zealanders romped away to 121/1 when Amy Satterthwaite joined Suzie Bates back in the stand. Hearts batsman Maddy Green helped Devine take the score on to 169 when she was out in the  in the 34th over but after that wickets fell at regular intervals and the White Ferns  finished their 50 overs with 240/9. Only Amelia Kerr amongst the last six batsmen reached double figures, with 30.  Devine scored 103, which would later earn her the Player of the Match Award.

Auckland’s Holly Huddleston soon put paid to Pakistan opener Ayesha Zafar, but the next wicket didn’t fall until the last ball of the 20th over. The ‘home’ side continued to accumulate, and halfway through the 46th over they were looking in command at 217/5. Three overs later though, they were all out for 232, as spinners Kerr and Kasperek worked in tandem and the field came to the party with a couple of run outs.

The last wicket to fall was to one of those run outs, appropriately executed by Sophie Devine to cap off a good outing and deliver a 7-run win for her team. Kasperek and Kerr both pocketed a pair of wickets, as did Huddleston, most economical on the day with 2/32 from her ten overs.

The second match went somewhat more to plan, Pakistan batting first and struggling to build momentum against the opening bowlers, Lea Tahuhu and the Hearts’ all-rounder Anna Peterson. At the end of ten overs Pakistan were 17/1 and off-spinner Peterson had bowled five miserly overs for ten runs. The pressure inevitably told, with a run out coming a few balls later.

Pakistan fought back to reach 103/4 in the 33rd over, but once again Kasperek and Kerr knocked over the lower order, leg-spinner Kerr finishing with 3/35 and Kasperek 2/31, while young quick bowler Hannah Rowe had 2/17 from her six overs.

New Zealand took only 24 overs to score the 148 runs needed for victory, losing three wickets along the way. Again Devine dominated, with 62 from 48 balls, picking up another Player of the Match trophy for her trouble.

The Black Caps had a tougher task in the opening encounter of their T20 series with India, the home team winning very comfortably on the back of a 158–run opening partnership between Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma which occupied just 16 overs and two balls.

With New Zealand’s fielding not at its usual standard, and at least three catches going to ground, India finished on a daunting 202/3, two of those wickets falling to Ish Sodhi – all three wickets went to catches behind the stumps by Tom Latham.

This time the Auckland pair of Guptill and Munro couldn’t get New Zealand off to the start they needed and it was always going to be tough coming back from 18/2 late in the fourth over. There were useful hands from Williamson and Latham, but from 99/7 it took late cameos from Mitchell Santner (27 not out from just 14 balls) and Ish Sodhi to get the Black Caps to the semi-respectability of 149/8 at the close.

Back home, the second round of the Plunket Shield has been completed, and it saw another tough match for the Aces. This time it was the experience of Jesse Ryder and Doug Bracewell which changed the game on the first day after the Stags had been 200/5. Central Districts went on to score 472 and Auckland were always on the back foot from there.

Ryder scored a century in each innings, the second time he has managed this feat – only Bert Sutcliffe and Glenn Turner have bettered this in New Zealand cricket – but there were also some gutsy performances from the less-experienced Aucklanders. Michael Guptill-Bunce and Mark Chapman both passed 70 in Auckland’s robust first innings reply of 349, while Ben Horne batted well for 46 in each innings.

Luck was not with the Aces though. After picking up five wickets in the Stags’ first innings, Lockie Fergusson was struck on the hand while batting and the resulting broken finger put him out of the balance of the match.

This week the Aces will be pleased to come home to Eden Park, where they take on an Otago side which looked very convincing in their first-up win over Canterbury, but then succumbed last week by an innings to the rampaging Wellington XI. Neil Wagner’s first innings 43 from number nine in the order was the highest individual score in the match by an Otago batsman.

The previous week, Stephen Murdoch had come to the crease with Wellington 432/1 and been out without scoring – this time he made amends, holding the Firebirds’ middle order together with 114. Hamish Bennett was the most destructive of the bowlers, with 7/61 in the match, while Wagner continued his good start to the season with 4/80 in Wellington’s solitary turn at the crease.

The third game saw Canterbury come back from their first round defeat to beat Northern Districts by just 8 runs. Anton Devcich was the only century-maker of the match at Rangiora, but Canterbury’s Sydney import Daniel Sams scored a 74-ball 88 on his first class debut before 21-year old left arm wrist-spinner Blake Coburn wrapped up Canterbury’s victory taking 7/64 as Northern Districts squandered their advantage at 180/5 to be all out for 236.

This was just Coburn’s second first class match, and his figures are the best recorded by a New Zealand left arm wrist spinner.

Two rounds done and youth and experience both shining through with some outstanding performances already – and we’re just into November.

Auckland A have been in action as well, drawing with Northern Districts A, Andrew Morrison compiling a fine double of 59 and 87. Will O’Donnell and Sean Solia both passed fifty as well, while Danru Ferns and Louis Delport picked up four wickets apiece in Northern’s first innings as both sides enjoyed a good work-out.

Let’s not forget the Hearts either, warming up across the Tasman against Queensland.