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The Christchurch Press Canterbury v Otago (Shell Trophy)
The Christchurch Press - 5-8 March 1999

Day 1: New-look Canterbury side rises to challenge

Canterbury's cobbled-together cricket team blended spirit and skills to dominate the opening day of its Shell Trophy match against Otago at the QEII Village Green.

Warren Wisneski found in Chris Martin a willing apprentice as they dismantled Otago's batting line-up for 119 runs yesterday. Captain Craig Cumming then guided Canterbury to a promising 85 for three by stumps.

A spate of withdrawals and non-availabilities forced Canterbury team officials to dig deep into the province's cricketing depth, and coach Garry MacDonald was more than satisfied with the response of his new players, and the results they achieved.

Debutant wicketkeeper Glynn Howell christened the new first-class venue by catching Otago opener Chris Gaffaney from the first ball of the game. Howell, 22, gleefully accepted another catch, edged by Michael Lamont, in the next over, and completed a memorable morning's work by assisting Chris Anderson to run out Simon Forde.

If Howell deserved the award for best supporting act, it was medium-fast men Wisneski and Martin who filled the starring roles. They made Otago rue its decision to bat first, relishing the encouragement offered by the pitch and bowling straight to make capital out of it.

Martin had the stumps cartwheeling out of the ground three times, with test batsman Matthew Horne among his victims. But, because of Forde's run-out, only one bowler could claim a five-wicket bag and the wily Wisneski asserted his seniority by taking out the tail-enders.

Day 3: Toast to Priest as Otago takes home the bacon

Mark Priest got a taste before lunch but by stumps it was Otago's Shell Trophy cricketers who were sipping the victory drinks at QEII Village Green.

Set 133 to win yesterday, Canterbury again fell victim to the Otago seam bowlers. Despite a valiant 28-run last-wicket stand between Shane Bond and Chris Martin, the home side was dismissed for 114.

Eventually David Sewell and Glenn Jonas, with 14 wickets between them, saw their side through to victory after test batsman Matthew Horne had provided a reasonable total to defend.

But the match will also have a special place in Canterbury cricket folklore because of Priest's feat in displacing Sir Richard Hadlee as the province's most prolific wicket-taker.

Priest had started the trophy competition with 278 victims, seven behind Hadlee. He drew level yesterday when Horne played on, and went ahead by enticing spinner Paul Wiseman to nick a catch to wicketkeeper Glynn Howell.

``I was getting a bit uptight. It was taking too long,'' said Priest.

The ball which dismissed Horne for 80 ``went straight on, he tried not to play it, but it hit his bat'', said Priest, while the record-breaker ``just turned the right amount'' on Wiseman.

The occasion was recognised by Canterbury team officials bringing Priest a glass of champagne at the pitch. It had no detrimental effect on his performance, for he soon had Mark Billcliff caught in the gully, then dived left to brilliantly catch Marty Croy and complete a five-wicket bag.

Overhauling Hadlee's mark will not necessarily persuade the 37-year-old Priest to retire.

``We haven't had a very good season in the four-day stuff. It's not the right time, emotionally, to make a decision. I'll leave it until the winter,'' he said.

Only Horne and Croy stayed long enough and displayed sufficient confidence to give Otago, which had trailed by 55 runs on the first innings, reasonable hope of success.

Canterbury lost its captain and senior batsman, Craig Cumming, to the fourth ball of the innings and never recovered. A drift towards defeat became a landslide when Jonas dismissed Marcel McKenzie and Priest with consecutive balls and Warren Wisneski fell to Wiseman to leave the home side teetering at 53 for six.

Robbie Frew and Howell added 30 for the seventh wicket and Bond and Martin fought bravely for an hour.

Source: The Christchurch Press
Editorial comments can be sent to The Christchurch Press at press@press.co.nz