The finish line for Club Cricket is in sight
Friday, 30 March 2012
Suburbs welcome back Michael Bates
PREMIER CRICKET PREVIEW - 31ST MARCH
After six months of hard work and toil the final weekend of the season has arrived with plenty still up for grabs.
Suburbs New Lynn are heavy favourites to take out the Hedley Howarth Trophy and will begin day two on 204/5 against HRV Howick Pakuranga at Ken Maunder Park. While Suburbs healthy lead at the top means they probably don't need much help in securing the title they will receive a huge boost with the inclusion of two Blackcaps for the final day of the season.
Michael Bates and Martin Guptill will both return to the Suburbs line-up for day two and if the pair can help their side attain first innings points the trophy will be theirs. With these two major inclusions Suburbs reserve team will also benefit as they too push for their own two-day title and the mood around Ken Maunder Park has not surprisingly been buoyant all week according to coach Shoruban Pasupati:
"Practices this week have certainly had an edge to them and both sets of players are buzzing. We have had the calculators working overtime and we know exactly what we need to do in both grades. Our destiny is in our hands we cannot wait for Saturday."
Papatoetoe are the only side who could possibly catch Suburbs, but the outright victory they would require looks a long way off as they resume on 10/0 in reply to Cornwall's 156 at the Papatoetoe Recreation Ground.
Shane Singe is one of the not out batsmen in what will be his last day as a player. Singe is going out on top with over 800 runs to his name in the campaign, a tally which he could add to against a Cornwall attack minus their overseas professional Jack Shantry who has returned to the UK.
In the bottom four it's honours even at Onewa Domain as Takapuna battle North Shore to decide who will be relegated to the Minor Championship.
Taka find themselves in the unfamiliar role of battling to avoid the drop after winning back to back Major Championships, and they are defending a total of 176 which owed a great deal to Brad Cachopa's 77. Shore reached 31/2 in reply before rain ended play on day one.
While Taka skipper Blake Douglas accepts that the game is in the balance he has every confidence in his side's ability to take the first innings points they need to avoid the drop: "I lost a crucial toss last week as it was always going to be tough to bat. Obviously Brad playing was a huge bonus for us and he helped us up to a score I am confident we can defend."
While almost every pitch favoured the bowlers last weekend a week of warm weather could see the batsmen come into play tomorrow, although Douglas doesn't feel this gives Shore too much of an advantage: "The pitch will be slightly better but we have had a wet summer so I'm sure it will still do a bit. Our main focus is on their batsmen - they have some good players at the crease and with guys like Ronnie Hira still to come we know we need to take some key wickets."
While North Shore have been at the bottom of the Major Championship ladder for most of the campaign their skipper, Josh Tasman-Jones, knows his side are just one good performance away from survival: "We are treating this as our `cup final` ……it's the biggest game we are playing all season and we are very excited. They batted very well to score 176 and Brad Cachopa certainly showed his class and experience, but we have 146 runs to get and I have every confidence in our batsmen to do the job."
In the other game East Coast Bays finished day one on 267/5 against Parnell at Windsor Park.
In the Minor Championship Grafton United look set to claim the title this weekend after wrapping up first innings points against Eden Roskill at Keith Hay Park on day one.
Bottom of the ladder Roskill disintegrated to 32 all out which Grafton easily overcame before declaring. Roskill made it to 30/0 in their second dig, but Grafton skipper Grant Thorpe was still delighted with his side's efforts: "I was ecstatic with the performance. The pitch was damp but didn't misbehave, we bowled well and fielded brilliantly with some great catches and a run out. Once we had bowled them out we knew we needed to push quickly for first innings points as rain was forecast and we are nicely set up for day two."
While Birkenhead City aren't totally out of the title race yet Thorpe knows the destiny of the title is in his side's hands: "We want to carry on from the first day and push hard for an outright. If we do that we take all the other teams out of the equation and walk away with the title."
HRV Birkenhead City are the only team who could possibly overturn Grafton's lead, but like Papatoetoe in the Major Championship the outright they need to keep the pressure on is still some distance away. City were dismissed for 149 at Te Atatu Park to which Waitakere City replied with 29/3 before the close of play.
In the other game there is only pride and a potential personal milestone on the line at Colin Maiden Park where Top Catch Auckland University are hosting local rivals Ellerslie. The visitors resume day two on 53/2 in reply to Uni's 276. If Uni get to bat again coach Barrington Rowland is just five runs shy of 1000 for the season, and only three away from breaking the single season run scoring record for the club.