Arrival of Chris Woakes timely for Firebirds
The cavalry, in the form of English all-rounder Chris Woakes, flew into New Zealand last night just as his new Wellington team-mates limped away from Rangiora in need of a morale boost.
A depleted Firebirds bowling attack rarely threatened Canterbury's batsmen on a docile Mainpower Oval pitch as the hosts cruised to a six-wicket win with nine balls to spare in their Plunket Shield match.
In what coach Jamie Siddons labelled a friendly declaration, Wellington set Canterbury 303 off 61 overs after Michael Papps notched his highest first-class score, 206 not out.
An onslaught from home captain Peter Fulton, who cracked 104 off 80 balls, did most of the job before half-centuries from Shanan Stewart and Tom Latham saw them home.
Siddons wasn't too dispirited considering Andy McKay (side strain) was absent after bowling only eight first innings overs, and Mark Gillespie struggled with a sore neck.
"We were a man down and we didn't have the firepower and didn't bowl well enough. Three-hundred runs, 60 overs and they got them in the second-last over. Not a bad chase and it took someone to make a great hundred to get them over the line," Siddons said.
Gillespie, whose neck responded to treatment, took 1-87 off 14.3 overs while the only other frontline paceman, Scott Kuggeleijn, had match figures of 4-176 off 30.
Canterbury moved to third on the ladder and Wellington slipped to fifth, but they have a game in hand which starts in Auckland on Monday.
Said Siddons of their declaration at 364-5: "They [Canterbury] had no points and we could have shut them out but we want points as well.
"We had nothing to lose. It was a flat, flat wicket and after day one everyone seemed to find it easy to score on."
Woakes, the Warwickshire all-rounder who has played ODIs and T20s for England, will ease Siddons' growing concerns over the bowling. McKay will miss next week's game and potentially the one after that, against leaders Central at Karori Park on December 10.
"He [Woakes] will bring a bit of know-how to the game, a bit of outswing and I'm looking forward to seeing what he has to offer. I'm excited about having him here.
"An international cricketer is a great addition to our team. It's good timing with the injury but also just to give us a lift in that department."
Worries over the batting eased with Papps' runfest, his 22nd first-class century, and Brodie's 74 in his first match of the season. But Jesse Ryder, after two stunning, matchwinning performances, had his third single-figure score in as many innings.
The Dominion Post