Musings from Beyond the Boundary – 7 January

What better way to kick off the New Year than with a cricket double-header at Eden Park – and clearly I wasn’t the only one who felt this was a good idea. Driving down Sandringham Rd well before the start of the Hearts’ match against the Canterbury Magicians and passing groups of people walking to the cricket was a pleasant surprise, and to see so many spectators already inside the ground when I arrived was a treat.

By the time the first ball was bowled there was a very healthy crowd and this grew through the afternoon into one of the best Outer Oval attendances anyone could remember. They got to see a pair of low-scoring Super Smash encounters, but if there weren’t a lot of batting fireworks there was still some fascinating cricket.

The Hearts took first use of the pitch in their game, and just never quite got going. Lauren Down started positively before a narrow run-out sent her back – perhaps one of the downfalls of having a televised match, as this was a decision referred by the on-field umpires and which still took a couple of viewings to confirm.

After skipper Maddy Green was bowled by Jacinta Savage, Katey Perkins was dreadfully unlucky to be run out backing up at the non-striker’s end. Anna Peterson had driven firmly down the ground and bowler Frankie Mackay managed to get a finger on the ball as it went past into the stumps with Perkins out of her ground. Peterson was out an over later and the Hearts had lost three wickets for five runs – 44/4 in the eleventh over.

Holly Huddleston did a great job of rebuilding the innings, helped by Regina Lili’i, Arlene Kelly and, right at the end, Bella Armstrong but 104/6 never felt like enough against an in-form Magicians line-up. The women were playing with the full-size Outer Oval boundaries, and perhaps this was one reason the Hearts innings contained only six fours –the batsmen struggled throughout to get real momentum into the innings.

Their battle contrasted with the Canterbury effort. The in-form opening pair of Frankie Mackay (who already has almost 130 more Hallyburton Johnstone Shield runs than anyone else this season and sits fourth on the Super Smash aggregates) and the powerful Kirsty Nation (who has a Super Smash 91 in 60 balls against the Otago Sparks this summer) set about the bowling in style.

Mackay was all class and stroked five boundaries in her 30, while Nation added four of her own before driving aerially wide of the bowler and being superbly caught by Anna Peterson diving to her right. Kate Ebrahim and Erin Bermingham added another five fours between them as they saw the Magicians home with eight wickets and more than two overs to spare. The final Boundary count: Hearts – 6, Magicians – 14. Canterbury’s ability to find the rope while Auckland struggled was the difference between the two sides.

A short interval and the Aces took first strike against the Kings. This was our first look at the season’s Super Smash import, James Vince. Vince toured this country last summer with England and scored 76 in the second innings of the Christchurch test, his last test knock. He has played over 150 top level T20 matches averaging almost 30 at a strike rate of more than 132, and he is renowned as an elegant and attractive stroke-player.

This afternoon he showed us a glimpse of his class, with a run-a-ball 18, but then he top-edged Kyle Jamieson to become the tall Canterbury opening bowler’s first victim of the day. At the other end the power-packed trio of Solia, Phillips and Chapman managed only three runs between them, Phillips becoming the fourth Auckland run out victim of the afternoon. 25/4 wasn’t a good position to be in inside the first five overs. It was good to have the cool heads of Craig Cachopa and Robbie O’Donnell at the crease to restore a little stability. Cachopa looked particularly sound but into the fifteenth over both were gone.

A late innings flourish from Roneel Hira and Will Somerville, last out and top-scoring with 27, but all eyes were on Kyle Jamieson. Having taken three of the first four wickets to fall he came back to take three of the last four wickets and return the third best analysis in T20 cricket – and comfortably the best by a New Zealander. His pace and bounce were always a handful, and 6 wickets for 7 runs off 4 overs was reminiscent of Trent Boult against Sri Lanka at Hagley Oval – both quite remarkable spells.

Neither of them had anything on Southland’s Betty Ingram in a club match in Invercargill in the later 1930’s though. Ingram, who toured New South Wales with the New Zealand Women’s team in 1938, took seven wickets in seven balls. The first four wickets came from the last four balls of her third over and the next three from the first three balls of her fourth. She finished with eight wickets for two runs and the opposition were dismissed for just 5. Apparently a South African schoolboy had taken nine wickets off consecutive balls in a schools match in 1931 and this feat was repeated in New Zealand in 1967-68 when a Blenheim schoolboy called Stephen Fleming had the same result playing for Marlborough College.

The Kings’ reply didn’t begin as convincingly as their female counterparts’ had done, and with two down for 4 and Mitch McClenaghan bowling a fiery spell the crowd’s hopes were raised. With Ellis out at 19/3 it was game on, but Canterbury captain Cole McConchie took over from here and played an accomplished innings of 47 not out to guide the South Islanders home. They finished the job with the same 2.2 overs to spare as the Magicians.
For Auckland it was good to see Matt Quinn, back from Essex, bowling with pace and accuracy, and conceding just 10 runs from his four over spell.

The big news through was a big crowd enjoying some entertaining cricket, and a world-ranking bowling performance from Kyle Jamieson. The next Eden Park double-header comes up on Sunday 20th January, and on this occasion the Aces take on the Otago Volts in the early game before the Final of the Women’s Super Smash at 4pm. The Hearts, the Magicians and the Wellington Blaze are the contenders for a berth in that match.

Coming up this week, international cricket returns to Eden Park with the only T20 of the Sri Lankan tour. Great to see the Auckland openers, Guptill and Munro, both finding form in the ODIs at Mt Maunganui, and particularly impressive to see Munro play such a well-paced innings as he did on Saturday. Good also to see Glenn Phillips in the T20 side once again, joining Lockie Ferguson as the fourth Aucklander in the squad. Ferguson had a successful evening in the first ODI, picking up a couple of important wickets late in the innings and continuing his recent success at international level after his performances against Pakistan in the UAE.
Sri Lanka have already shown that they are both appealing to watch and very competitive in limited over cricket. See you at the Park on Friday night!