Scott Kuggeleijn's maiden first-class hundred is unlikely to be his last.
The 20-year-old is in the Wellington team because of his ability to hurry up batsmen with his energetic fast-medium bowling. But it's with the bat that he looks capable of becoming something reasonably special.
In as nightwatchman on Wednesday as the Firebirds floundered at 34 for three chasing 247 to beat Central Districts at Karori Park, Kuggeleijn clubbed Andrew Mathieson over long-on for six almost four hours later to secure his team a deserved seven-wicket victory yesterday.
Kuggeleijn's previous highest first-class score was a modest 39, which he obliterated yesterday. Having reached his hundred off 161 balls, Kuggeleijn was 142 not out by the time he ended the match, after plundering 42 from the last 20 balls he faced.
Not a huge foot-mover, he prefers to stand tall, and slightly to the leg side of the ball, and then hit hard through the line.
At times yesterday he resembled Chris Cairns and developing into a genuine allrounder is definitely his aim.
"In three or four years I want to be batting [at] six or seven and scoring a lot of runs, but we'll see how it goes," Kuggeleijn said.
Nine is his usual spot and he didn't need to be told twice when the Firebirds' hierarchy said he was going in as nightwatchman.
"If you get an opportunity you have got to take it and this was a pretty good one," he said.
With him all the way was Michael Papps. Having scored 117 in Wellington's first innings, the opener threatened to become the fifth Firebird to record centuries in each innings of a first-class match. In the end he was left stranded on 77, as Kuggeleijn reacted to his own hundred by going mad.
"I thought, ‘the ball's old, the bowlers are tired'. I had to do it, I'd been holding it in a while," Kuggeleijn said.
Papps was just happy to watch, rather than remind Kuggeleijn that he could've done with a few of those runs.
"I actually thought about it, but he didn't say anything about it. I suppose it was a bit selfish in that way," Kuggeleijn said.
Kuggeleijn needn't apologise. His knock, which included 15 fours and five sixes, hinted at a bright future with the bat.
But it will be with the ball that he really has to earn his coin next week, when Wellington host Northern Districts at Karori Park without injured fast bowler Mark Gillespie.
Firebirds physiotherapist Vijay Vallabh confirmed Gillespie has a grade one abdominal strain, which will sideline him for four to six weeks. It's cruel luck for Gillespie, who had been recalled to the Black Caps on Wednesday.
It's also a further nuisance for the team, having already lost Andy McKay to a similar injury.
Vallabh hopes McKay might be back by late January but, in the meantime, Kuggeleijn will be bowling a lot more overs.
In 11 matches he has 29 wickets at over 40 and realises he's got to improve.
"At times I've had some really good spells and at times I've bowled some rubbish," he said.
Attacking bowlers like Kuggeleijn can leak runs, the key is making sure they're taking wickets at the same time.
Wellington are up to third in the competition, while CD retain the lead despite this heavy defeat.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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