Cup bid sinks as batsmen benefit

The Marlborough representative cricket side have missed out on a Hawke Cup challenge for a second consecutive season, after they went down in the first innings to Canterbury Country at Rangiora yesterday.

Going into their final zone three clash, Marlborough needed at least first-innings points to remain in the hunt with Country and Nelson for a shot at the silverware.

That task became even more challenging when the home team's captain, Dave Fulton, won the toss on Saturday morning and elected to bat first on a flat, batter-friendly Mainpower Oval surface.

Country went about compiling 363 for 7 declared thanks largely to an unbeaten century from former Canterbury rep Robbie Frew.

Marlborough got through two overs at the end of the day unscathed, and first-innings points were still very much for the taking halfway through yesterday as they made their way to 148 for 3.

But three wickets in one over shortly after lunch proved their undoing, and they were all out for 250 just 20 minutes prior to the tea break. With an outright result from there a highly unlikely prospect, the captains brought the match to an end.

Marlborough end their campaign on 22 points, with Country and Nelson both sitting on 27 ahead of their match in Nelson this weekend, the final zone three match.

Country openers Ash Andrews and Tom Hills cracked into their work quickly on Saturday morning, bringing up their 100-run stand inside 20 overs before both were removed by left-arm spinner Josh Poole with the score at 103.

Hills made 51 off just 58 balls, while Andrews scored 49 from 59, the pair hitting 11 fours and a six between them.

Marlborough slowed Country's onslaught, and another 29 runs were added before Marlborough skipper Nick d'Auvergne brought up a major milestone, dismissing Matthew Laffey (5) to collect an unprecedented 200th wicket for his province.

From there, though, the home side were able to establish several useful partnerships. No 5 Frew steered the ship from one end and shared in partnerships of 39 with Fulton (44), 56 with Tim Muir (26), 65 with Liam Bartholomeusz (35) and 67 with S Chamberlain (39).

Frew's patient and chanceless knock, which included just five boundaries, reached 100 in the 109th over, and Country declared, leaving Marlborough with two overs to negotiate.

Openers Sean Neal and Tim Abrahams made it to the end of play safely, and started well on Sunday, bringing up their first half-century partnership of the season. At 59, though, Abrahams fell to Chamberlain for 17, and just eight runs later Neal was lbw to leg-spinner Muir for a gritty 35.

Chris Gibb and Josh Poole added 34 for the third wicket before Gibb fell for 18, but with 150 nearly on the board at lunch and seven wickets still in hand, Marlborough were still a chance.

The turning point came shortly after lunch. In one over, Daniel Fleming got rid of the in-form Poole (40), plus the father-son duo of Greg and Matthew Stretch for a pair of ducks, and Marlborough were suddenly 148 for 6.

Greg Knowles and Ben McLennan steadied the ship, and as they began to find the boundary more, Marlborough's slim hopes remained alive. McLennan cracked five fours and one big six before falling for 44. When Knowles, who belted 10 fours and one six in his 133-ball 79, joined McLennan in the shed 12 runs later at 248 for 8, first-innings points were in sight for Country.

Muir took the final two wickets for the addition of just two more runs, and with that, Marlborough's chances of a Hawke Cup challenge were gone.

D'Auvergne said losing the toss and not getting first use of a good batting surface was not ideal, but he was pleased with the way his bowlers fought back. He was full of praise for Frew's knock, which provided the perfect platform for the home side to build their innings around.

D'Auvergne had called for more discipline and runs from his top order prior to the match, and although several still failed to make a significant contribution, he was much happier with the all-round approach and responsibility shown.

Reviewing the zone three campaign, d'Auvergne said his side were always slightly on the back foot following a first-up first-innings loss to Nelson in December.

Marlborough were still in a rebuilding phase after losing several key players, but he felt improvements had been made.


Hawke Cup zone three

Marlborough v Canterbury Country Canterbury Country first innings A R Andrews c B Stark b J Poole 49 T W Hills b J Poole 51 D H Fulton c M Stretch b B McClennan 44 M R Laffey c T Abrahams b N d'Auvergne 5 R M Frew not out 103 T R Muir c M Stretch b B Stark 26 L D Bartholomeusz c J Poole b B Stark 35 S G Chamberlain run out 39 G Foulkes not out 0 D WT Fleming not out 8 J Benton not out 8 Extras (3b, 7lb, 1nb) 11 Total (for 7 wkts, 108.2 overs) 363 declared. Fall: 103, 103, 132, 171, 227, 292, 359.

Bowling: B McClennan 16-2-61-1, B Stark 15-1-66-2, S Boyce 7.2-1-27-0, G Knowles 15-4-49-0, J Poole 24-7-70-2, N d'Auvergne 28-8-75-1, S Neal 3-0-5-0.

Marlborough first innings S Neal lbw b T R Muir 35 T Abrahams c D H Fulton b S G Chamberlain 17 C Gibb c D H Fulton b G Foulkes 18 J Poole lbw b D W T Fleming 40 G Knowles c T R Muir b J Benton 79 G Stretch c D H Fulton b DWT Fleming 0 M Stretch b D WT Fleming 0 B McClennan c M R Laffey b J Benton 44 B Stark b T R Muir 3 N d'Auvergne not out 0 S Boyce lbw b T R Muir 0 Extras (3lb, 11nb) 14 Total (all out, 77 overs) 250 Fall: 59, 67, 101, 148, 148, 148, 236, 248, 250, 250. Bowling: D WT Fleming 12-2-46-3, T R Muir 27-4-94-3, L D Bartholomeusz 6-1-16-0, S G Chamberlain 12-1-37-1, G Foulkes 8-2-24-1, J Benton 12-6-30-2. Result: First-innings win to Canterbury Country. 

The Marlborough Express