Canterbury v Central Districts (Shell Trophy)
The Christchurch Press - 9-12 February 1999
Day 1: CD lays foundation for big first innings
Once you are in, you could stay all day. It's a war of attrition for the bowlers. - Garry MacDonald, Canterbury coach
Central Districts won the first battle in what Canterbury coach Garry MacDonald described as ``a war of attrition'' fought out on the portable cricket pitch at Jade Stadium.
Most of the Central batsmen had longish stays on the experimental strip - being used at Shell Trophy level for the first time - in seeing their side through to 270 for four wickets.
But it is unlikely any would attempt to realise the batsman's dream of rolling up a favoured pitch and taking it home, even if they had overnight access to a heavy crane and an articulated truck.
``It's low and slow, not ideal,'' said Central captain Craig Spearman, who was batting as fluently as anyone until his innings was cruelly cut short by Craig Cumming's accurate throw from cover.
``You get this sort of wicket from time to time around the place. But it has played a bit better than I thought it was going to. It's not easy to score if the bowling is straight,'' summed up Spearman.
Both sides included an extra spinner after studying the camel-coloured pitch, and Spearman had no hesitation in batting after winning the toss.
Although Warren Wisneski made an early breakthrough with the first and second new balls, the Central batsmen held centre stage as Canterbury's seamers toiled away and the slow bowlers searched in vain for encouraging turn.
``It's a flat, dead wicket with no life, but is playing very true,'' said MacDonald. ``Once you are in, you could stay all day. It's a war of attrition for the bowlers.
``But it is playing better than I thought. My first impression was it might be a real shocker. That was a huge toss to win,'' he said.
Spearman and Mathew Sinclair scored their first 50 runs together in 45min, but Spearman's departure and Mark Priest's arrival slowed the advance to a crawl. Sinclair and Glen Sulzberger needed 105min to register their first 50.
After Sinclair - becalmed in the 40s for 68min - fell as Stephen Cunis's first victim at first-class level, Mark Douglas and Sulzberger lifted the run rate.
Sulzberger survived a caught and bowled chance to Priest on 17 and was on course for his third first-class century until Wisneski had the second new ball skid through into his pads.
The pugnacious Douglas was decisively the fastest of the half-centurions, as befitting one whose first two scoring shots were an overthrown five and a bludgeoned six.
Day 2: Oram feasts on portable pitch
Central Districts batsman Jacob Oram signalled his arrival on the national cricket scene with a sparkling innings of 155 against Canterbury at Jade Stadium.
Making only his second Shell Trophy appearance, Oram was the principal figure in Central declaring at 549 for eight, the second highest total in its history. Canterbury was 60 for one wicket at stumps on the second day.
The drawn-out struggle for first-innings points now has double significance in New Zealand cricket folklore. Not only is it the first first-class match on a portable pitch, but also the first to continue under floodlights when the light became murky yesterday afternoon.
Oram, 20, resumed on 14. Though his partner, Mark Douglas, also registered a century, it was Oram who dominated as 181 runs were added in the two and a half hours to lunch. Oram contributed 132 of them, his tempo rising to a peak of 21 runs from off-spinner Hamish Barton's last over before the break.
Tall, left-handed, and blessed with exquisite timing, Oram made the portable pitch his personal stage. He was almost cruel in his treatment of Barton, loosened the grip left-armer Mark Priest had exerted over Tuesday's run-rate, and made the seamers suffer for any waywardness of line and length.
In total, Oram faced 192 deliveries. His innings included many handsome drives, fierce cuts, and even a McMillanesque reverse sweep through point in dispatching 18 of them for fours. The most emphatic of his six sixes was straight, just dipping under the roof of No. 1 stand.
Canterbury's weather, as much as its bowling, caused Oram's downfall. Drizzle forced a 110min delay, and Oram had not regained his rhythm before edging a ball from Warren Wisneski into his stumps.
Perhaps cricket's statisticians should keep a separate set of records for portable pitches. Such a strip was beyond comprehension when Keith Smith and Ian Leggat established a 121-run Central fifth-wicket record against Canterbury 40 years ago; yesterday Oram and Douglas bettered it by 60 runs.
It took Douglas 45min to add two runs to his overnight 63. Once under way, though, he breezed up to the nineties, lofted Priest for a six over long-on, then carefully completed his seventh first-class century. Later, Martyn Sigley achieved a personal best, displaying increasing authority after having lived in Oram's shadow.
Day 3: Hopkins, Cunis lead fightback
Northern imports Gareth Hopkins and Stephen Cunis went a long way towards restoring Canterbury's flagging Shell Trophy cricket fortunes against Central Districts at Jade Stadium.
But their sterling resistance for the ninth-wicket yesterday could not prevent Canterbury falling 203 runs short of Central's first innings of 549 for eight wickets. Following on, Canterbury will start the last day at four without loss.
Cunis, who had already made his first-class debut noteworthy by taking four Central wickets, joined Hopkins, also playing his first trophy game for Canterbury, at 232 for eight in mid-afternoon.
A persistent Central bowling battery, led by Andrew Penn, had wrested a distinct advantage. But the combined influences of Hopkins, Cunis, and the unsympathetic pitch blunted the efforts of Penn and his team-mates and almost got Canterbury through to stumps.
The records will show the 113-run partnership between Hopkins and Cunis to be the second highest in Canterbury's cricket history. But they have every justification in claiming top billing -- above them are Lee Germon and Roger Ford, who were fed runs by Wellington in the notorious ``77-run over'' match nine years ago.
Hopkins had already shared a mini-revival with Mark Priest and raised his maiden half-century just before Cunis joined him. That Cunis was sufficiently bold to deposit a ball from Campbell Furlong over the long-off boundary for his first scoring shot appeared to further boost Hopkins's confidence.
They proceeded with increasing authority until Hopkins completed his century by reaping 14 runs from an over of mostly overtossed deliveries by young leg-spinner Tim Anderson.
Tiredness as he entered the sixth hour of his innings contributed to Hopkins's dismissal 12min before stumps. Chris Martin was soon out to leave Cunis tantalisingly close to a first-up 50.
Earlier Mark Priest gave proceedings a spurt. He might have felt the omens were against him again when the scoreboard malfunctioned soon after his arrival, and he eventually fell one short of a half-century.
Source: The Christchurch Press
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