Both matches peaked in high drama on the final day – what Kiwi cricket fan’s would give to be able to listen to the drama on the radio – maybe later in the season if 2011/12 is any indication. For now, they’ll have to rely on Twitter updates and New Zealand Cricket’s live scoring – the second rate coverage of our first class game is disappointing. However, if the season continues in the manner of the first four matches then fans should make every effort to get along to their local park - entertainment guaranteed.
Central Districts 430/9 decl. (C Cachopa 179*, M McClenaghan 3/107) and 149/6 (M McClenaghan 3/55, B Martin 3/44) defeated Auckland 210 (B Martin 56*, A Lamb 4/65, T Nethula 3/30) and 365 (following-on: C Munro 103, A Kitchen 60, T Nethula 4/67, A Mathieson 3/71) by 4 wickets
Northern Districts 204 (I Butler 4/39) and 533/6 decl. (D Flynn 182, C Anderson 167) drew with Otago 298 (J Neesham 124, I Butler 61, B Arnel 5/74) and 353/8 (N Broom 146*, M Craig 93, J Baker 3/74)
1. Flynn and Anderson rewrite the record books
Northern Districts were only 60 runs ahead of Otago with three wickets back in the pavilion when the enigmatic Corey Anderson joined Daniel Flynn at the crease. When Anderson departed nearly 67 overs later, Northern had progressed to 4/437 and the pair had added a record 283 runs for the fourth wicket, outnumbering their side’s first innings effort by nearly 80 runs.
Along the way they had surpassed three long standing ND records:
- Fourth wicket partnership for ND versus Otago – 203 by Shane Thomson and Matthew Maynard in 1991/2
- Highest ND partnership for any wicket against Otago – 222 by Lindsay Crocker and Chris Kuggeleijn for the second wicket in 1983/4
- Fourth wicket partnership against all comers – 259 against Canterbury by current Knights’ coach Grant Bradburn and Michael Parlane in 1996/7.
Flynn, preparing to leave for international test duty in Sri Lanka, became Northern Districts’ most prolific century maker when he raised his bat for three figures. His 11th first class ton for ND took him past Zimbabwean flat track bully Graeme Hick who lit up the Northern region during his two seasons in the late 1980s. Flynn’s dismissal for 182 led to a Northern declaration at a dominant 6/533.
His more powerfully built partner in willow, Corey Anderson, struck his maiden first class hundred for his second domestic province. After making his first class debut for Canterbury as a 16 year old allrounder, Anderson has suffered numerous injury setbacks and has managed just 20 matches into his sixth season in the top flight – unrealistic expectation is a heavy burden to bear for a young man.
Anderson had remodelled himself as a middle order batsmen, bowling only occasionally in T20 fixtures. His previous best was 88 not out during the 2008/9 season though he hasn’t gone past 42 in the past three summers. He didn’t play in the four day format for Canterbury in 2010/11 and transferred to ND the following season, though only made four appearances.
Though he hasn’t yet utilised his undoubted talent, will his knock of 167 give Anderson the confidence to finally take his career in the direction many predicted when he signed the contract Chris Harris declined, as a pimply schoolboy?
2. Carl Cachopa - five in a row
26 year old Carl Cachopa is in the midst of a purple patch spanning two cricketing summers. His 179 not out for Central Districts against Auckland was his second time past 150, and highest score, eclipsing his 151 against Canterbury last March, when he struck three first class hundreds in the month. Since his debut hundred just eight months ago, South African born Cachopa has passed the century mark on five occasions - in the last five matches in which he’s batted.
The oldest of three brothers, all of whom have played domestic cricket, Cachopa has played just 25 matches since he debuted for Auckland in early 2005. When he left for CD in the 2010/11 season, he had averaged just 20 for the blue and whites in 9 matches. Under the guidance of New Zealand’s premier domestic batsman Matthew Sinclair, Cachopa has played a further 16 matches and averages a touch over 44. Spending so much time in the middle with Skippy has allowed Cachopa a first-hand look at what is required to succeed in the Plunket Shield – Sinclair’s influence cannot be overestimated. The hope will be he finally gets his shot and can carve out the lengthy and constant international career Sinclair sadly couldn’t.
Last season Cachopa finished with a first class average a shade under 48, and with 314 runs already under his belt in four knocks this season (nearly half his 2011/12 aggregate), he’ll be looking to at least equal that by the end of the summer. It’s too soon for his name to be in the international reckoning but he will at least be on the radar – a continuation of a strong calendar year and he must start to come into calculations.
ESPNcricinfo is yet to afford him the honour of a profile photo or a written summary, while the New Zealand Cricket website would have us believe Cachopa is yet to celebrate his first birthday– the lad has a bright future.
3. Milestones aplenty
- Brent Arnel took his 200th first class wicket when he claimed his second scalp in Otago’s first innings; young Michael Bracewell. It was Arnel’s 60th first class match since debuting in 2006/7. He finished the innings with figures of 5/74 (off 26 overs) after destroying the Otago top order on the first evening – he headed to the sheds with 4/15 off his 10 overs and Otago humbled at 5/71.
- Reece Young, returning from a stint in Canterbury, became Auckland’s most capped first class cricketer – the match against CD was his 91st. He also holds the record for most wicketkeeping dismissals for the blue and whites – his 252 is a full 100 clear of Paul Kelly in second, though he lost the gloves to captain Gareth Hopkins for this match.
- Jimmy Neesham struck his maiden first class hundred, 124, for his second province, Otago. The 22 year old ex-Auckland allrounder easily went past his previous best of 69 in just his 12th first class match, helping Otago out of a sizeable hole in their first innings. What his former side would have given for the runs from two of their old steads, Neesham and Cachopa.
- Seven centuries were struck in the first two matches to start the season, another six were hit in round two – long may it continue as the wickets dry out and the green tinge goes heading into the New Year.
- Neil Broom and Mark Craig set a new 8th wicket partnership record for Otago versus ND - 149. They bettered the previous mark of 129 by Bert Sutcliffe and Tom Flaws in 1960/61. The pair came together at 7/191 with more than 51 overs left in the day’s play to negotiate to save Otago from defeat – against all expectations the pair, at the opposite ends of the experience spectrum, succeeded.
- Neil Brooms’ 146 not out was his 11th first class century – his 10th for Otago. His maiden hundred was for Canterbury in the 2004/5 season – his third year on the domestic scene. Broom went past 1,000 runs Otago against ND when he reached 64.
- Broom’s partner in Hamilton, Mark Craig, hit his highest first class score – 93. Going into the match Craig has only managed 96 runs from 10 first class innings with a high score of 28 – Otago’s top order batsmen owe him a quiet shandy.
- 25 year old Colin Munro struck 103 for Auckland against the Stags. If was the Durban born left hander’s second first class century in just his 13th match, although this is his seventh season.
- A defiant rear guard action from Munro and Michael Bates gave Auckland a slight chance to stave off defeat against CD, especially with rain later in the day – unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough. The pair’s eighth wicket partnership of 133 surpassed the previous best of 111 in matches against CD, compiled by Lou Vincent and Reece Young in 2004/5. Their stand was the highest in the match by some distance – the next best was also for the eighth wicket, 81 by the CD pair of Tarun Nethula and Carl Cachopa. Auckland’s next best was 59. Bates struck his third 50 in his 42nd first class innings.
- The ND pair of Corey Anderson and Daniel Flynn broke all manner of partnership records in their mammoth knock – it’s detailed at the top of this piece.
- Derek de Boorder snaffled nine catches with the gloves for Otago. His six catches in ND’s first innings sits him third equal on the Otago list which he tops with eight. Including the three in a short second innings, de Boorder’s nine dismissals for the match sees him third – again, he tops the list with Gareth Hopkins on 10.
- Promising leggie Ish Sodhi captured his maiden first class wicket on debut for Northern Districts after moving down the motorway from Auckland. He dismissed Darren Broom and then worked to bring up his first century – 2/100 off 34 overs in the Otago second innings. He had earlier saved Northern’s precarious first innings with a knock of 48 – Auckland Cricket may live to regret allowing him to take his talent down the Southern Motorway.
4. Swings and roundabouts at Seddon Park
In the end, Otago hung on for a deserved draw against ND but not before four days of intriguing cricket with more ups and down that a Himalayan skyline.
15 wickets fell on the first day for just 275 runs, a number that only reached such astronomical heights thanks to a debut knock of 48 from 20 year old ND debutant Ish Sodhi batting at number eight. In reply to Northern’s modest 204, Otago were 5/42 approaching the close, with Arnel capturing 4/15 in 10 testing overs. The tone was set when Aaron Redmond was the first to depart for a seven ball duck after he had hit back to back hundreds in the previous match. In the space of 24 overs the Otago top order had thrown away a definite advantage their seamers had worked hard to build.
The second morning belonged to Otago, with Jimmy Neesham and Derek de Boorder putting on 137 runs to get the blue and golds back on track. Neesham continued to work with the tail, departing at 9/243 having hit his maiden first class hundred in compiling 124. But just at ND thought they had the innings wrapped up, ex-international seamer Ian Butler paired with schoolboy Jacob Duffy to add 55 for the 10th wicket – Duffy was the last man out for 2. Butler struck 61 off 49, including four powerful sixes which sent the pensioners on the bank looking for cover away from the carnage. After a poor start, Otago led by 94.
In reply, ND finished the day 120/2. Day three was all one way traffic – Otago stumbling like a punch drunk pugilist. On the back of large hundreds to Daniel Flynn and Corey Anderson, the Knights hit 413 for the loss of just four second innings wicket at over four and a half an over, leaving Otago an improbable target of 440 runs in 115 overs. By the close of play the Southern men had lost both openers to seamer James Baker and day four was beginning to look like a formality.
When Derek de Boorder departed in the final act of the morning session, Otago were 6/122 with over 70 overs left in the day and all the ND bowlers looking likely. However, ex-international Neil Broom put on 69 with first innings hero Neesham before being joined by Mark Craig – the pair took victory out of the hands of Northern as the Overeaters Anonymous choir warmed up across the road. Though Craig fell eight overs before the finish, the experienced Ian Butler hung in with Broom and the Southern men had dodged a bullet.
A frustrated Knights outfit missed an opportunity to amass a healthy points haul early in the season. Will Auckland feel the backlash on Saturday or will they show the mettle that was missing in Napier?
5. T20 success doesn’t translate to the first class arena
On the back of an off-season preparing for a tilt at the Champion’s League T20 in South Africa, Auckland would have been looking for a strong start to the Plunket Shield season against a Central Districts side defeated by Jesse Ryder in the previous round. Whilst the South African jaunt has inflated a number of wallets, it seems to have been counterproductive to an early tilt in the first class competition.
Though they improved as the match progressed, the bowlers appeared short of a gallop in Central’s first innings and their batting was saved by the lower middle order. While Anaru Kitchen’s second innings 60 was a notable exception, Auckland’s top five only got past 20 twice in ten innings’ – that they got so close says a lot about the second innings efforts of its bowlers, who also contributed the bulk of their side’s runs.
On paper a four wicket loss is a respectable result, but for the majority of the match there was only one side in the contest. The lads from north of the Bombays will be looking to build on their efforts on the last day when they play their Northern rivals on Saturday in cricket’s return to Eden Park after a four year hiatus.
6. King Louie returns to his throne
21 runs in two innings and a solitary over wouldn’t usually make a highlights package, but the returning Lou Vincent is his own highlight – a cricketer who shows anyone watching that he views cricket as we all did in our distant youth – a chance to have a hit with our mates in the sun. That’s not to say that Vincent doesn’t value victory or deplore defeat. Like any professional sportsman he plays to win, it’s his job, but there is something that sets the man apart, a warmth you seldom see in cricket’s modern day gladiators.
Nearly six years after his last first class match on our shores, Vincent is back in the Auckland mix fulltime and that fact isn’t missed on those with a love of the Aces side. Lou is a unique individual, the type of man we all love to see succeed. Who else could get even the stodgiest cricket journos talking about a grown man with a Justin Bieber doll without an ounce of cynicism? Vincent has always been a cricketer who loves interacting with the fans and understands they pay his bills, though many of New Zealand’s domestic players now give their time to talk to kids at their matches and pose for photos when they’re asked – that didn’t happen a decade ago.
Vincent will turn 34 during this weekend’s clash with Northern Districts – he is no longer the youthful lad who walked away from New Zealand cricket, not feeling he was part of the establishment and at logger heads with coach John Bracewell. In that time he’s been part of the ill-fated ICL, battled against depression and faced tough personal times, but to listen to the man one would think everything was as it should be. He even fell foul of a Scottish conman to the tune of GBP10,000 when embarking on a high-profile charity push.
The con related to his Wacky Woodworm Wagon, a dilapidated 1985 Mercedes camper he took around the UK, playing cricket, living a nomadic life and raising money and awareness of mental health issues for the “Mind” charity. He spent time on radio and television and his “iPod idol” was a YouTube sensation – anyone with an interest in cricket sung for Lou – the material was gold! Vincent has shown us there’s more to the life of a cricket pro than just playing the game – Lou is a first class human being. Check out his “Where is Lou?” website - the videos alone show just how he is received by all he meets.
But don’t forget Lou Vincent the cricketer. In 23 tests he batted in eight different positions – less than two-thirds of his innings were at the top of the order, and that uncertainty can’t be easy for a player whose game is built on confidence. How well could he have done if he was afforded the same opportunities some of the current crop have been given? Those picking the side seemed oblivious that inconsistency in selection leads to inconsistency in results – it was all too evident to Vincent. For all that he averaged a shade over 34 which sits him inside the top 20 Kiwis who’ve played at the highest level.
No Kiwi cricket follower will ever forget his maiden century on debut against Australia at the WACA – he nullified McGrath, Gillespie, Lee and Warne with a mix of stubbornness and youthful exuberance. Auckland will enjoy having him back…
Tell me what you think – I’d love your thoughts. Let me know if you’d like more six quick singles on a regular basis and I’ll give it a crack. Post a comment below or tweet me @aotearoaxi.