Canterbury cruise to victory over Wellington
In the end, this wasn't even a bumpy ride for Canterbury.
Despite the heroics of Wellington's Michael Papps, whose unbeaten 206 was his highest first-class score, and a day lost because of rain, Canterbury eased home for a six-wicket Plunket Shield victory in Rangiora yesterday.
In short, Wellington had a flutter and lost.
Skipper Stephen Murdoch set the scene. After lunch, he dared Canterbury to score the second-innings total of 303 and by late afternoon it was apparent he had got it wrong.
Canterbury, whose coach Gary Stead recently slammed Otago for not having the guts to run down their total, were in no moral position to settle for a draw.
Led by captain Peter Fulton, Canterbury remained calm and efficient.
Fulton scored 104 yesterday and totalled 183 runs for the match, blitzing his century off 71 balls.
It was not a belligerent knock either; streaky shots were rare even though the attitude was unorthodox by the 1.98m giant's methods.
So it was hardly surprising Stead emerged from his team's changing shed, which moments before had been reverberating with their bawdy victory song, satisfied.
Fulton copped his share of praise from his coach. He hopes the national selectors are taking note after the recent Sri Lanka meltdown.
"I hope he is [sending a message]. I hope they haven't discarded him," Stead said of Fulton.
"He is in good form, as is Dean Brownlie. I think they are two guys who should be knocking on the door of the incumbents."
Papps could be lobbed in that same category.
However, he was not getting too excited, despite his mammoth innings warranting a second glance.
"Everyone is striving to play international cricket and I am no different," Papps said.
"But I just want to score runs for Wellington and set up a victory, which would have been nice today.
"That's [international play] a different level, obviously.
"It is just about scoring as many runs as I can at this level and seeing what happens after that."
His 206 not out - Murdoch waited until he raised the double-century (and eclipsed his previous record of 192) before declaring - was crafted off 313 balls and lasted more than five hours.
The featherbed pitch enhanced the batsmen's chances of pushing their names in front of Black Caps coach Mike Hesson as he stares at his ceiling in Colombo.
In three days' play - Tuesday was rained out - Brownlie, Fulton and Papps reached triple figures.
Fulton could have kicked on, too.
He was visibly annoyed not to prolong yesterday's effort when he was stumped after lunging forward to a Grant Elliot delivery.
The 71-ball century was still well short of Lance Cairns' effort in 1979-80, when he clobbered his 100 off 45 balls and in 52 minutes.
A requirement to keep the scoreboard moving along meant Tom Latham provided valuable support.
The young player hit an unbeaten 53 off 50.
"Tommy did really well, it was an important knock towards the end," Stead said.
"He played well, along with Brad Cachopa at the end. To win with eight or nine balls to spare, set up a really good run chase."
Canterbury are third on the domestic table behind Central Districts and Otago.
With the World Cup just around the corner, how do you think the Black Caps will go?