18th Match: Wellington v Otago at Wellington, 18-21 Feb 2002
Steve McMorran

Wellington 1st innings: scene set, day 2, Wellington Innings,
Otago 2nd innings: Lunch, Day Two, drinks two, day two, tea, day two, Otago Innings,
Wellington 2nd innings: wrap, day two,
Live Reports from previous days

Wellington will enter the third day of their State Championship match against Otago at the Basin Reserve tomorrow needing 79 runs to win outright with seven second innings wickets in hand.

On a day on which 18 wickets fell, following the fall of 15 wickets on the first day, Wellington was 92-3 at stumps, having been set 171 to win.

Wellington had been all out in its first innings this morning for 108 in reply to Otago's 138, conceding a 30-run. Otago were out for 140 in 215 minutes in its second innings, setting Wellington a deceptively difficult run-chase.

Spinners have ruled this match. Nathan Morland and Rob Smith shared seven wickets during Wellington's first innings and debuting left-armer Luke Woodcock took 4-3 from 6.5 overs for Wellington's to hasten Otago's second inning collapse. Morland took the three Wellington wickets which fell before stumps today.

Wellington's stand in captain Richard Jones was 49 not out at stumps and held the key to their bid for another outright win.

Wellington have taken two previous outrights this season by chasing runs in the fourth innings. They beat Otago at Carisbrook, needing a mammoth fourth innings total, and beat Northern Districts in Hamilton last week, chasing a much more moderate target.

The Basin Reserve wicket continued today to offer unreasonable assistance to spin bowlers and for that reason Wellington's chase on the final day is by no means an easy won. They lost the last five wickets in their first innings this morning for 34 runs after resuming at 74-5. Otago, during it second innings, lost its last six wickets for 24 runs, harried by youngster Woodcock.

Woodcock made his Wellington first class debut in this match and marked that debut with Wellington's top score of 30 in their first innings. He was bowled reluctantly today and only when Wellington found itself stuck with only one specialist spinner on a turning wicket.

That spinner, Jeetan Patel, was the least economical and least penetrating of Wellington's bowlers.

But Woodcock entered the attack in the 46th over, removing Craig Cumming with his first delivery in first class play and severing a partnership between Cumming and Craig Pryor which had produced 73 for the fifth wicket.

Pryor, who made 25, and Cumming, 50, had taken Otago from 43-4 to 116-5 but Otago's innings fell apart from that point.

Woodcock claimed three more wickets as the innings dissolved, all of them in partnership with Richard Jones who took three catches from h is bowling at short midwicket. Jones took four catches in the innings.

Wellington was aware that a chase for 171 would necessitate them scoring the highest total by far in this bizarre match. They went to 23 before Woodcock was out for 12 and to 51 before they lost Selwyn Blackmore for 14.

Wellington was 57-3 when Sam Fairley was out and the match then seemed evenly balanced, even tipping in Otago's favour. But Stokes Valley teammates Jones and Grant Donaldson saw Wellington to stumps without further loss and gave them hope of a successful outcome tomorrow.

The events on the field today were overshadowed by events off the field. Otago coach Glenn Turner cited the entire Wellington team for unacceptable behaviour under appendix 2A of cricket's code of conduct.

The citing related to the dismissal of Chris Gaffaney for five, caught by Jones from James' Franklin's bowling. Umpire Mike George at first ruled that Gaffaney was not out. The Wellington players challenged teh decision and insisted George confer with his associate Evan Watkin at square leg, to confirm his judgement that the ball had bounced before the fieldsman.

Watkin informed George that the ball had carried cleanly to third slip and George revised his decision. Turner said the behaviour of the Wellington players was not acceptable. A code of conduct hearing will be convened at the close of play tomorrow.

Debuting left-arm spinner Luke Woodcock took four wickets for three runs from 6.5 overs as Wellington dismissed Otago for 140 in its second innings in the State Championship match at the Basin Reserve today.

Otago's total, the highest in three innings in this extraordinary match, left Wellington needing 171 for outright victory.

Wellington took 45 overs to introduce Woodcock into their attack on a pitch offering unreasonable assistance to spinners. They had, till that stage, relied on their solitary specialist spinner, Jeetan Patel, who had failed to make in-roads into the Otago innings.

Patel was the least ecomonical of Wellington's bowlers and one of the least penetrating. When all else had failed, Wellington turned to Woodcock who - on debut - was their top-scorer with 30 in their first innings.

Woodcock snatched the wicket of Craig Cumming with his first ball, breaking a partnership of 73 for Otago's fifth wicket and went on took take three more wickets in fewer than six overs, five of which were maidens. Three of his victims were caught by Richard Jones at short midwicket.

After the resistance shown by Cumming and Craig Pryor, in a sound fifth wicket stand, Otago lost its last six wickets for 24 runs. Cumming was out at 116, Pryor at the same score and Wellington, thanks to Woodcock, ran through the remainder of Otago's order in quick time.

A winning target of 171 will still be difficult to achieve on this mercurial pitch. Otago will open their attack with left arm medium pacers David Sewell and Neil Rushton but it is not likely to be long before spinners Nathan Morland and Rob Smith are introduced.

With the ball turning almost the width of the crease, any run chase will be a demanding one.

Left-arm spinner Luke Woodcock took a wicket with his first ball in first class cricket to break a threatening partnership on the second day of Wellington's State Championship match against Otago at the Basin Reserve today.

Woodcock's debut delivery pitched short of a length outside off stump, bit and turned away slowly and Craig Cumming, reaching for the ball, saw a fine edge carry to wicketkeeper Glynn Howell.

Cumming had scored 44 and put on 79 with Craig Pryor for Otago's fifth wicket, taking them from 43-4 to 116-5. As so often happens with long partnerships, when one partner was out the other followed quickly and Pryor was dismissed for 25 and without addition to the score.

The same, or at least something uncannily similar, had happened in Otago's first innings. Pryor had put on 77 with Nathan Morland for Otago's seventh wicket, taking them from 48-6 to 125-7. Morland was out at that total and Pryor followed without addition to the score.

Business resumed as usual with the dismissals of Cumming and Pryor. There had been nine wickets in the first session on the second day and 24 wickets in total in the first four sessions.

But the period between lunch and drinks in the afternoon passed without the loss of a wicket while Pryor and Cumming were together.

The pace of wicketfalls resumed when they were out. Cumming fell at 116, Pryor at the same score and Martyn Croy, without scoring, at 118. Nathan Morland followed and Otago were 122-8 at tea, 152 ahead of Wellington.

Woodcock, who didn't enter the attack till the 46th over, had two wickets for one run - the wickets of Cumming and Morland - from five overs.

Pryor, of all the batsmen in this match, had the ability to look untroubled at the crease. He scored 59 in the first innings and faced 102 balls in the second innings without any real alarums before his dismissal.

Cumming, slow at first, took his 44 runs from 122 balls in 165 minutes with six fours and a six.

Two wickets had fallen at the same score twice in Otago's second innings, a phenomenon that occured three times in the first innings.

After the chaos of the first four sessions, a mood of relative tranquility settled over the State Championship match between Wellington and Otago at the Basin Reserve between lunch and drinks on its second afternoon.

Those four sessions had been liberally punctuated by the fall of 24 wickets as Otago were out for 138 and Wellington collapsed to be out for 108 in reply after resuming at 74-5.

Otago had gone to lunch at 48-4 in their second inning and another collapse seemed possible but there was an undeclared ceasefire in the first hour after the luncheon interval.

Craig Cumming and Craig Pryor carried Otago's total through to 100-4 at the second drinks break and enlarged their unbeaten fifth wicket partnership to 57.

Pryor, who was the leading scorer in both first innings with 59, was 15 when drinks were taking and Cumming, who had batted more than an hour for one run at lunch, was 40.

Spinners Nathan Morland and Rob Smith had taken seven wickets to bring about the rapid disolution of Wellington's first innings but Wellington had only one specialist spinner to take advantage of a turning pitch. Off spinner Jeetan Patel bowled without reward through the second half of today's first session and the first half of the second.

Patel struggled to maintain an attacking line against a right hand-left hand batting combination.

Pryor and Cumming batted with comfort and suggested there were no longer any terrors in a drying wicket. It might have been that the wicket was slightly soft when play began yesterday and that it favoured spin for that reason.

The post lunch period was the first substantial period of play to take place without the loss of a wicket, nor even with the threat of a wicketfall. Pryor seemed comfortable and confident and Cumming, after his slow start, was blossoming. He took a six and a four off successive deliveries from Patel as the spinner drifted onto leg stump.

The State Championship match between Otago and Wellington at the Basin Reserve progressed on its second day at the whirlwind pace of the first day, with nine wickets falling in the opening session.

Wellington, who had resumed at 74-5, lost their last five wickets for 34 runs and were all out for 108 in 55.5 overs, replying to Otago's first innings 138.

Otago, in turn, lost four wickets enlarging their 30 runs lead to 78 at lunch. They were 48-4 at the break by which time 24 wickets had fallen in four sessions.

Wellington had some hopes of a first innings lead when they resumed their first innings this morning but that hope quickly faded as spinners Rob Smith and Nathan Morland wrapped up their innings in 55 minutes.

Matthew Walker was out for his third duck in consecutive innings at the overnight total of 75 and James Franklin was out, also for nought, when only one run had been added.

There were partnerships of 16 for the eighth wicket and 11 for the last which were large in the contest of the innings. But no batsman below No 5 reached double figures.

Andrew Penn was out for eight and Patel for 5, Mark Gillespie for four. Otago had an improbable, 30-run first innings lead.

Nathan Morland had 4-26 from 16.5 overs and Rob Smith had 3-21 from 13 overs.

The spinners, who bowled throughout the morning, had wreaked havoc on a turning pitch. Morland took two and Smith three of the wickets to fall today.

But Otago were quickly in trouble as they attempted to embellish their lead.

Simon Beare was out for 0, his second duck of the match, in the second over and Otago was 2-1. They were 2-2 when Robie Lawson was out for 1 in the following over.

Chris Gaffaney fell for 5 with the total seven as Andrew Penn and James Franklin bowled an exacting line through the early overs of Otago's second innings.

Andrew Hore helped Otago recover to a small degree when he scored 26 in relatively quick time. Otago ws 43 when he was out, caught low down by Selwyn Blackmore at first slip off Mark Gillespie in the 15th over.

At lunch Craig Cumming was 1 not out and had batted more than an hour for that precious run. Craig Pryor was not out 11.

Spinners Nathan Morland and Rob Smith, exploiting a lively pitch, bowled Otago to an unlikely 30-run first innings lead over Wellington in their State Championship match at the Basin Reserve today.

Wellington resumed at 74-5 in their first innings, replying to Otago's 138, and lost their last five wickets to their spinners for 34 runs to be all out for 108.

The Basin Reserve pitch continued to provide considerable incentive to the spinners throughout the morning, turning and bouncing prodigiously.

Morland removed overnight batsman Matthew Walker for his third duck in consecutive innings with the fourth ball of the second day's play while Wellington were still 74.

James Franklin was out when only one had been added, bowled by Smith off an inside edge.

Andrew Penn played some aggressive strokes in the hope of leading a rearguard action. He hit two fours and was eight when he was caught by wicketkeeper Martin Croy off Smith's bowling when Wellington was 91.

Mark Gillespie was out for 4 when Wellington was 97, caught at midwicket y Chris Gaffaney off Smith and Jeetan Patel was the last man out for 5 in the 56th over. The Wellington innings had concluded in 55 minutes.

Morland had 3-26 from 16.5 overs and Smith 3-21 from 13.

Wellington may have been concerned when Otago's second innings began that it had only one specialist spinner, Patel, to exploit the turning wicket. Newcomer Luke Woodcock bowls some occasional left-arm spin.

The State Championship match between Wellington and Otago at the Basin Reserve, in a theatrical sense, was well into its third act when the second day began in lightly overcast conditions at 10.30am this morning.

Fifteen wickets had fallen on the first day and Wellington, replying to Otago's 138, was by no means assured of a first innings lead at 74-5.

Wellington coach Vaughn Johnson and local umpire Evan Watkin agreed after play last night that they had never seen a Basin Reserve pitch offer more turn than this mottled green strip offered on the first day.

Otago's Rob Smith, among the four spinners used, achieved some remarkable turn and bounce in the final overs before the close of play.

Yet spinners claimed only four of the fifteen wickets that fell on the first day and bowled only 23 of the day's 100 overs. That makes it difficult to sustain an argument that they, alone, accounted for the first day's devastation.

Eight of Otago's wickets fell to medium pacers and Andrew Penn, the Wellington right armer, was the most successful of all bowlers used yesterday when he took 4-45. Wellington off-spinner Jeetan Patel took 2-14 but his wickets were claimed at the end of the Otago innings. Otago were already 48-6 before Patel took a major part in the attack.

Similarly, Wellington were already in trouble before Nathan Morland and smith were introduced into the Otago attack. Morland took the wickets of Selwyn Blackmore and Glynn Howell and did turn the ball to a disturbing degree.

Smith' had no success on the first day but sent down five overs at a cost of only two runs.

It was clearly hard to score again the spinners. Morland and Smith's 13 overs cost 13 runs. With discipline and good technique, there was no real reason that any batsman should not survive against them.

No-one was quite sure why the Basin pitch was so responsive to spin. Johnson suggested it was still drying after having been severely dampened by last week's heavy rain.

Craig Pryor, who produced the day's top score of 59 as the mainstay of the Otago innings, showed how batting should be approached on such a pitch. He took a block-bash approach, batting for 137 minutes and hitting 20 fours.

The weather for the start of play today is reasonably benign but rain is forecast, along with a southerly change, later in the day.

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Date-stamped : 19 Feb2002 - 10:36