Talent aplenty but Blaze fizzle out

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 20/01/2014

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To be brutally honest, Leigh Kelly sounded broken-hearted last night.

He and his Wellington Blaze team have been training since May and, in a five-weekend flash, their hopes and dreams for this summer have gone up in smoke.

Despite having a side brimming with talent, the Blaze will not contest either of this summer's domestic women's finals. They ought to have made the one-day decider, at least, but instead suffered a shock six-wicket defeat to Northern Districts at the Basin Reserve yesterday.

The Spirit are no great shakes and the Blaze had beaten them by 119 runs the day before. But the run-outs of Emily Perry and Rachel Priest helped prevent Wellington from posting something similar to Saturday's 325 for seven. While they took ND to the last over, 219 for nine simply wasn't enough.

It was just the Spirit's second win of the competition and came on a day when a Blaze win would've put them in the 50-over final.

"It's a disappointing season," Kelly said.

Weather and a bit of luck helped dampen the Blaze's finals hopes during the campaign, but Kelly acknowledges that every team cops those. The fundamental thing is his team should've done better.

"They're really disappointed. They know that, with what we've got in the group, what we've done is disappointing.

"I don't know if everyone expected something to happen, because we've got such a talented group, but it's over now and you sit back and say 'well how did that happen?'."

Kelly said it was too soon to say whether he'd carry on with the side and, after results like this, he doubted Cricket Wellington would be leaving the decision entirely up to him.

Meanwhile, Karori caused something of an upset in men's club cricket by thrashing Eastern Suburbs by 115 runs on Saturday.

Former Ireland international Peter Connell took seven for 28 for Easts, as Karori were bowled out for 211. That turned out to be plenty, as Easts were rolled for 96.

The two teams now meet again at Kilbirnie Park on Sunday, in the final of this one-day competition.

From then on it will be two-day cricket to see the season out, which Wellington Collegians will be relishing.

Like a number of clubs, Collegians were bolstered by the rare appearances in club cricket of a few Firebirds, and 95 from favourite son James Franklin saw them post 272 for six against Upper Hutt.

Upper Hutt were bowled out six balls shy of the 50 overs and Collegians' 15-run win saw them clinch the final spot in the Pearce Cup two-day competition.

Elsewhere, red-hot Hutt District beat Taita by six wickets and the resurgent Johnsonville side enjoyed a 130-run win over North City, while Petone-Eastbourne had a two-wicket victory against University.

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- The Dominion Post

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