Auckland ACES vs. Central Stags | ACES won by six wickets
An extraordinary opening stand between Sean Solia and debutant Cole Briggs has made a tough chase look comfortable and kept the ACES Ford Trophy hopes alive.
Up against the Stags at the Outer Oval, the visitors looked set for a big total after a fine first-wicket stand of their own.
Patient fifties by George Worker (59) and Dane Cleaver (56) had the Stags out past 100, before Louis Delport struck in the 22nd over. Delport didn’t stop there, snatching the momentum back into the ACES favour with three wickets in three overs.
Spin twin Will Somerville then chimed on with one of his own and the Stags had slipped from 120/0 to 139/4. There was always going to be a second wind from the Stags and it came through Tom Bruce (96*) and Josh Clarkson (35).
The pair put on 85 for the fifth wicket and set sights on 300 again. Bruce continued on when Ben Lister struck twice at the start of the final ten overs, and with the help of Joey Field (31) lifted the Stags to 309/7.
The major story of the day, however, started when the ACES went out to bat. With a daunting target, Solia and Briggs raced out of the blocks. It was Solia who got the ACES out of the blocks before the pair traded boundaries through the first ten overs. At 60/0 after ten, Solia and Briggs had the hosts on their way.
The new opening combination didn’t stop there. Solia’s half-century came from 49 balls, while Briggs took 59 deliveries to race his bat for the first time in ACES blue. More of the same would have been the cry from the ACES camp and that is exactly what they got.
Solia won the race to a hundred, his third List-A century coming from 95 balls, and was still at the crease thirteen balls later when Briggs became the latest ACES batsman to score a century on debut. All that was left for the pair to do was knock off the ACES List-A record for the first wicket, finishing with 226 to take the record from Martin Guptill and Glenn Phillips, who put on 208 against the Stags in 2016/17.
The ACES lost four wickets, including both century-makers – Solia for 121 off 119 and Briggs for 101 off 104 balls – but the outstanding partnership at the top was enough to see the side over the line with 2.5 overs to spare.