Bowlers dominate but Poole superb
Two remarkable bowling performances overshadowed what was an utterly commanding victory as the Marlborough senior cricket side kept their Hawke Cup challenge hopes alive with an outright win inside a day over West Coast in Greymouth on Saturday.
After winning the toss, Marlborough sent the home side in on the artificial surface at Blaketown's Arthur Fong Park.
Following a steady start, the introduction of first-change swing bowler Ben Stark brought about the beginning of the end for West Coast. Swinging the ball late and keeping it full, Wairau left-armer Stark completed the astonishing feat of claiming all 10 wickets as they succumbed for just 65 in 29.4 overs. The visitors then blasted 211-5 before declaring after 42.3 overs, Celtic's Josh Poole belting his maiden rep century, a typically aggressive 103 not out.
With an outright well and truly in sight, Marlborough wasted no time. Captain and off-spinner Nick d'Auvergne bagged eight wickets and finished with the outstanding figures of 8-11 from eight overs as West Coast fell over for just 45, securing the visitors maximum points with 18 overs still remaining in the day.
West Coast got away to a steady enough start on Saturday morning, openers Luke McNeish and James Chapman surviving the initial eight-over onslaught from new-ball pair Chris Pope and Ben McLennan. However, that was soon about to change.
In the 10th over, Stark took over from McLennan. From the third ball of his second over, Stark broke the opening stand of 35 when he skittled McNeish's castle for a team-leading 18. That became the catalyst for an astounding turn of events.
With Knowles proving virtually impossible to score off at the other end, Stark began working his way through the West Coast lineup. When he removed No 4 Nik Cumming at 49-5, he sealed his first rep five-wicket haul. When he nicked out No 8 Ben Sexton at 59-9, he was one wicket from the unthinkable.
Last pair Chris Matthews and Josh McNeish managed to squeeze out six more runs, but when Stark went between bat and pad to clean up Matthews (4) in his 11th over, the history-making performance was complete.
While an unbeaten 70-run sixth-wicket stand between Poole and Josh Clarkson (17no) was the only really substantial partnership, Marlborough had few problems in posting 211-5.
Opener Sean Neal contributed 33 and Knowles hit a quickfire 24 at No 5, but Poole's ton was definitely the highlight.
Hitting shots all around the wicket, Poole lashed 14 fours in his free-flowing knock and when he brought up three figures with a four off Cumming, d'Auvergne made the declaration.
Luke McNeish and Chapman put on 22 to start the West Coast second innings, but d'Auvergne dismissed McNeish with just his fourth ball and from their the home side capitulated again.
Only Stark removing No 3 Steve Devereux and No 10 Russell Chapman prevented d'Auvergne from producing a repeat of Stark's first innings performance, the Marlborough skipper needing just eight overs to bring the match to a close. The leading all-time wicket-taker for Marlborough, d'Auvergne's eight-for took him to 193 career wickets. Marlborough's two remaining zone three matches are against Buller in Blenheim on January 12-13 and Canterbury Country in Rangiora on January 26-27.
They will likely need a first innings or outright win in both matches to be a chance of earning the zone three challenge.
Zone three points standings: Nelson 17 (played 2), Marlborough 11 (played 2), West Coast 0 (played 2), Canterbury Country 0 (played 0), Buller 0 (played 0).
Round two, Hawke Cup zone three Marlborough v West Coast
WEST COAST First innings L McNeish b Stark 18 J Chapman lbw Stark 14 A Chapman b Stark 1 N Cumming c d'Auvergne b Stark 8 S Devereux c d'Auvergne b Stark 2 R Gibbens c Abrahams b Stark 4 C McNeish lbw Stark 0 B Sexton c M Stretch b Stark 8 R Chapman c Neal b Stark 0 J McNeish not out 2 C Matthews b Stark 4 Extras (1b, 3lb) 4 Total (all out, 29.4 overs) 65 Fall: 35, 37, 40, 42, 49, 49, 51, 51, 59, 65. Bowling: C Pope 4-2-7-0, B McLennan 4-0-13-0, G Knowles 11-4-17-0, B Stark 10.4-1-24-10.
MARLBOROUGH First innings T Abrahams c J Chapman b N Cumming 10 S Neal b C McNeish 33 J Poole not out 103 G Stretch c J Chapman b R Chapman 5 G Knowles b R Chapman 24 M Stretch c J Chapman b A Chapman 10 J Clarkson not out 17 Extras (1b, 3lb, 4w) 8 Total (for 5 wkts, 42.3 overs) 211 declared. Fall: 34, 71, 84, 126, 141. Bowling: N Cumming 7.3-0-35-1, A Chapman 13-1-61-1, R Chapman 11-2-39-2, C McNeish 7-2-40-1, B Sexton 4-0-30-0.
WEST COAST Second innings J Chapman lbw d'Auvergne 19 L McNeish c Neal b d'Auvergne 7 S Devereux c Clarkson b Stark 3 N Cumming c Poole b d'Auvergne 2 A Chapman st M Stretch b d'Auvergne 2 R Gibbens c Abrahams b d'Auvergne 3 B Sexton c Abrahams b d'Auvergne 0 C McNeish b d'Auvergne 0 J McNeish b d'Auvergne 4 R Chapman c Abrahams b Stark 2 C Matthews not out 1 Extras (1w) 1 Total (all out, 19 overs) 44 Fall: 22, 29, 31, 34, 34, 35, 35, 39, 42, 44. Bowling: B McLennan 2-0-13-0, C Pope 4-1-11-0, N d'Auvergne 8-2-11-8, B Stark 5-2-9-2. Result: Outright win to Marlborough.
The Marlborough Express