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Sportsfreak reports on the first round of cricket’s Plunket Shield

This week we are glad to welcome our first report involving Wellington sport, from the popular blog Sportsfreak. You can read all columns, including reader comments at https://www.sportsfreak.co.nz/ and follow on Twitter at @Sportsfreakconz

October at the Basin

by Graeme Beasley

First class cricket in New Zealand starting on 10 October was always going to be a bit of a gamble, and it played out that way with a verdant seamer in Mt Manganui, and lots of rain in Wellington and Nelson.

Despite that, it was good to see the start of the season, and even better and rarer that most internationals turned out.

The Northern Districts All Stars got there in the end against a pretty inexperienced Otago but not too many would’ve picked them to be 59/8 in their first innings; regardless of the pitch.

Innings forfeits in order to pursue maximum points are always good for a bit of controversy, and it might be a while before Canterbury agrees to another one.  For most of the day it looked as if they were going to lose heavily.  But a tenth wicket partnership that lasted for 26 overs almost saved their blushes.  They fell one over short.

At the Basin there were no such agreements, and the weather was the winner. The match was called off early so the visitors could stop complaining about the temperature.

A summary of how the big names went, and other highlights

Batsmen

Jeet Raval stagnated a bit as a batsman last season, but he’s off to a flyer this time around. Scoring 102 against Wellington sets him up well for the tour of UAE.

Williamson guided Northern Districts to victory with 83* and Ross Taylor didn’t have any trouble with a quick 75. Henry Nicholls’s 43 doesn’t sound that many, but he was easily his side’s top scorer.

It is five and a half years since Hamish Rutherford announced himself as an international cricketer with a big century on debut against England. Things haven’t gone to script since then, but this would have to be one of his best innings: 115 against pretty much the New Zealand bowling attack on that pitch at the Mount was a statement both in terms of ability but, more importantly, determination.

Before this week Willem Cornelius Ludick’s highest first class score was 30.  This week he made 116 not out.

There were also half centuries to O’Donnell, Cooper, Cleaver, M Bracewell, Neesham and the best name in NZ cricket; Christian Leopard.

And then there was Trent Boult, with a highest first class score of 61 (6 sixes, 5 fours) off 37 balls. Classic Trent Boult.

Bowlers

Seth Rance might have felt a little put out to miss the New Zealand “A” tour underway.  Fast bowlers are at their most dangerous when they are angry.  He finished with 5/53 but might be a little angry he couldn’t polish off that Cantab tail.

The big names for Northern shared their wickets around, and Matt Henry took 4/115.

Plunket Shield 2018-19 –  Wellington Firebirds v Auckland Aces
Four Day Match (First Class) – Round One
Basin Reserve –Wednesday, 10 October 2018, 10:30am
Match Drawn

These Plunket Shield wraps rely almost exclusively done by reading scoreboards and NZC Press Releases. Given the tournament has no radio commentary anymore, and with newspaper coverage going the same way someone has to do it. If you happen to go to any of the matches and have some observations to make please e-mail [email protected] with feedback.