Batsman provides smashing finish to opening day
If there was anything to be taken from day one of Wellington's match with Auckland at the Basin Reserve, it's that Aces batsman Colin de Grandhomme still hits a very good ball.
One poor pigeon discovered that to its cost, before a dinner-plate-sized hole was hurriedly boarded up in the RA Vance Stand long room after de Grandhomme had danced down the wicket and launched Luke Woodcock over long-on.
The sound of glass shattering might have come in the second-last over of the day but de Grandhomme still wasn't done, blasting Woodcock for a further four and six to go to stumps on 81 not out.
A nervy Dusan Hakaraia was the other not out batsman for Auckland, having poked and prodded his way to eight off 48 balls.
De Grandhomme's late flurry took Auckland through to 319-5 at the close, after Wellington won the toss and decided to bowl.
A higher than usual moisture count in the wicket convinced the Firebirds to ask Auckland to bat, with the thinking being that if they were ever going to take wickets it was up front.
That didn't quite materialise and while Wellington's bowling was largely tidy, it had become a little ragged by stumps.
"We missed a couple of opportunities and if we'd taken them, 6-200 would've been a good score at about the 70th over mark," said stand-in Wellington coach Shane Deitz. "If we'd taken them, it could've been a different last session. In the end Colin played well and took his chances, and they ended up getting 300."
The most galling of those missed catches came when 12th man Scott Kuggeleijn dropped a routine chance at deep square leg, when Anaru Kitchen tried to pull Tipene Friday. Kitchen went on to make 91 before Mark Gillespie bounced him out to give wicketkeeper Tom Blundell his maiden first-class dismissal.
Blundell will be replaced today by Luke Ronchi, who missed the start of the match after playing for the New Zealand XI at Whangarei.
Kuggeleijn had been on the park for Jesse Ryder who "felt his groin a bit" after a long bowling spell in the middle session, said Deitz. It wasn't serious and Ryder eventually resumed his customary spot at first slip.
Kuggeleijn had been given this match off to refresh mentally, Deitz said, and do a bit of work on his action with bowling coach Stephen Hotter.
In Christchurch, Canterbury lead Northern Districts by 64 after both teams were bowled out yesterday at Hagley Oval.