After the last five months or so, you’d have to say that England and New Zealand are two fairly evenly-matched white-ball cricket teams.
And once again, Eden Park has managed to turn on a limited-overs thriller, as has so frequently been the case back to the tied 50-over match with India in early 2014. Martin Guptill also played a big part in that match top-scoring with 111 as New Zealand made its way to a total of 314.
Sunday’s match emphasised the place the mind occupies in the playing of the game. Chasing a mammoth target in Napier, and with a shortened game in Auckland, the New Zealand openers approached their task with a freedom which has been elusive over recent months and the result was the destructive start so necessary on both occasions.
Neither Martin Guptill nor Colin Munro could go on to deliver the defining innings which would decide either game in New Zealand’s favour, but wasn’t it satisfying to see Guptill batting with that regal command he possesses when playing at his best and to see Munro’s audacity paying dividends for him again.
From a broader perspective, it’s not clear that New Zealand have made much progress identifying their best T20 eleven, so that remains a work in progress over the balance of the season. It would be interesting to see Jimmy Neesham and Mitchell Santner have the opportunity to spend quality time at the crease in this format. They are both canny cricketers and accomplished stroke-players with the adaptability to bat to situations, and perhaps they are the pair to bat either side of Ross Taylor in the middle order.
Meanwhile, frustration has hit the ACES’ Plunket Shield campaign with five out of seven days play completely washed out, and eleven of twelve days affected by the weather one way or another. After winning first-up against last year’s victors, the Central Stags, the entire match against Otago in Dunedin was washed out.
And then, after a week of perfect cricket weather in Auckland, the ACES travelled to Wellington only for the wet weekend around the country to strike in the capital as well and eliminate another day. After the first morning bowling heroics of the Auckland fast-medium attack, and particularly of Ferguson and McEwan, the weather’s influence on an intriguing encounter is unwanted.
This is the last round of Plunket Shield matches until the latter part of February as our domestic players switch to 50-over mode with the first round of the Ford Trophy coming up this weekend. The ACES will again take on the Wellington Firebirds, this time on the Outer Oval.
The well-balanced Wellington side are the current trophy-holders and are likely to present challenging opposition, but the ACES will be able to line up a strong squad with international players returning from their white-ball commitments.
In an Auckland versus Wellington weekend, the HEARTS also open their Hallyburton Johnstone campaign against the Blaze, this time at the Basin Reserve with two 50-over clashes on Saturday and Sunday. Both sides, particularly Wellington, have had a limited build-up to the start of the domestic season and hopefully, this is where the Aucklanders gain the benefit of their pre-season excursion to Hobart.
The Auckland women had an eye-catching weekend of results in the Prichard Cup, the Premier 50-over club competition. Against Cornwall, the Howick Pakuranga side collapsed to be all out for 40, with no player scoring more than 3 and extras contributing exactly half their total. Cornwall didn’t lose a wicket in overhauling their target.
Papatoetoe batted first against Takapuna and were all out for 66, with the experienced Regina Lili’i opening and carrying her bat for an unbeaten 33, half her team’s total. The next best score was 6. Again the result was a ten-wicket victory to the Takapuna XI.
The third match couldn’t have been more different. The University side batted first and Hearts captain Anna Peterson and Northern Spirit batsman Katey Gurrey enjoyed a phenomenal opening partnership scoring 257 together in 167 minutes before Gurrey was dismissed for 149.
Peterson was out for 121 with the score on 277 and by the time the 50 overs were bowled the University side had reached an enormous 382/4, with Jesse Prasad 53 not out. Parnell replied with 91 in 28 overs to give University an imposing 291 run victory
The previous weekend Parnell had also been the victims of a 194-run third-wicket partnership between the Hearts pairing of Saachi Shahri, who scored 161, and Katie Perkins who made 87 as Cornwall accumulated 348/6. The same weekend Holly Huddleston just missed out on a hundred of her own, falling for 93 against Papatoetoe for whom Lili’i scored 64. You would have to say the Auckland Hearts players are showing some exciting early season form with the bat!
On a more sombre note, news over the last fortnight of the passing earlier this year of Sam Trimble, the Queensland opening bat whom some describe as one of the best Australian batsmen never to play Test cricket. We saw Trimble in action at Eden Park in 1970 when he captained an Australian XI, what we’d now call ‘Australia A’, on a tour of New Zealand while the senior Australian side toured India and South Africa.
Trimble’s side was an impressive one, including past or future Test players Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee, John Inverarity, Terry Jenner, Kerry O’Keeffe, Graeme Watson, John MacLean, Alan Turner, Dave Renneberg and Alan Thomson, and they drew each of the three four day unofficial ‘Tests’ against the full New Zealand side. At Eden Park, where Inverarity and Chappell added 181 for the third wicket in the Australian first innings, Trimble made 32 and 34.
In the second ‘Test’ at Christchurch Trimble made 57 in Australia’s only innings and then at the Basin Reserve he compiled a monumental eight hour 213 out of his side’s 353. The next best was his opening partner Derek Chadwick who scored 27, as Auckland’s slow left-armer Hedley Howarth took 5/61 for the home side.
Trimble averaged almost 42 in 144 first class matches in a career that lasted from the 1959/60 season through until 1976, by which time he was 41 years old.