"Not bad for an old has-been" - those were the first words out of Mathew Sinclair's mouth, after he began the Plunket Shield season with yet another hundred.
Having come in at two for 30, Sinclair went to stumps yesterday against Wellington at Napier's Nelson Park on 135 not out.
The 35th century of his first-class career, and 26th for his beloved Central Districts, took the Stags through to 301-3 at the close of play, after Wellington had won the toss.
"Overall, very, very happy and great to start the season off in the way that I intended," said Sinclair, who turns 37 next month.
The highest run-scorer in last summer's Plunket Shield, with 809, Sinclair's ability and desire continue to be a marvel.
"It all comes down to the mental side of the game and that's where I stand ahead of everyone else, I think.
"I'm able to get out there and assess the situation, and just play my innings," Sinclair said.
Yesterday's conditions required patience. The wicket was slightly uneven in pace and, with the ball often going sideways, Sinclair said it was a day in which he never felt completely in.
But with Wellington's bowlers not quite as consistent as they would have liked, there were enough freebies to enable him to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Sinclair brought his hundred up in 161 balls and, while satisfied, wasn't getting carried away about going past three figures once again.
"I know a lot of media think getting to a hundred is the ultimate but I hark back to [former Stags coach] Dermot Reeve who said: just see it as a figure, look beyond it and move on.
"You get so fixated with actually trying to get to a hundred sometimes and I've just tried to take that out of my mind."
More important to Sinclair was the fact he helped move the Stags into a position where they should be able to dictate terms.
The plan is to try to kick on this morning and then make better use of the life that's still in the wicket.
"I don't think they [Wellington] put the ball in the right areas to warrant bowling first on that wicket. It was good for our bowlers to see how they bowled and how we can do that better," Sinclair said.
In the visitors' dressing room, new Wellington captain Stephen Murdoch was feeling pretty encouraged by what he'd seen.
He would have liked a few more wickets but didn't feel any of the bowlers could be faulted.
"Each one of them were wanting more overs from me and kept coming up and asking for the ball, and didn't want to be taken off," Murdoch said.
"They kept wanting to keep up the momentum created by the guy at the other end and it was unrelenting from us and took a couple of good knocks to get them [CD] through."
Aside from Sinclair, Carl Cachopa was the other Stag to make a hundred yesterday.
He came in at 13-1, after Mark Gillespie had nicked out Jamie How, and was soon joined in the middle by Sinclair after Jeet Raval became Dane Hutchinson's first first-class wicket.
Otago are in control of the other match in this round, which started on Saturday. They made 383 yesterday, in reply to Canterbury's 297, and had reduced the Wizards to 2-3 by stumps last night.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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