Canterbury left wondering 'what if' after final

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 01/04/2013
Auckland Aces win, Kyle Mills
PHOTOSPORT
WINNING WAYS: The Auckland Aces' Kyle Mills appeals the wicket of the Canterbury Wizards' Peter Fulton, but is denied by the umpire.

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The Canterbury Wizards were left wondering "what if" after their three wicket loss in a bizarrely low scoring domestic one-day cricket final against Auckland yesterday.

"What if they'd scored another 20 or 30 runs" and "what if they'd batted better".

The Wizards were sent in and scored just 139 - the lowest score in a final since Canterbury were dismissed for 128 in game two of the three match finals series against Central Districts 12 years ago.

There were two survivors from that Canterbury team playing yesterday at Eden Park No 2, Chris Martin and Gareth Hopkins, although both were in Auckland blue, not Canterbury red. They are now national champions after their Aces side reached their target with three wickets in hand and in just the 26th over.

Wizards coach Gary Stead, who was the Canterbury captain during the series loss to CD in 2001, said his side couldn't blame the toss as they would have batted first - it was just a bad day to have a bad day.

"It was a pretty disappointing final really," he said. "We just didn't score enough runs."

The Wizards were bowled out in just the 35th over, with the damage done at the top of the innings. From 58-1 and with test hero Peter Fulton in full flight, the Wizards capitulated to 60-5.

Rob Nicol, Fulton, Dean Brownlie and Shanan Stewart were all dismissed within 11 balls.

Captain Andrew Ellis and top scorer Tom Latham (42) then put on the 43 for the sixth wicket, but more was needed from the remainder of the Wizards order.

While there was more in the deck than expected, 139 was not enough. The Canterbury innings was over so early that Auckland had to face 10 overs before lunch.

The Aces looked in control from the outset, reaching 61-1 before they, too, got the speed wobbles.

Colin Munro blazed 21 runs from just 10 balls, but when Ellis dismissed him at 118-4, the Aces' lower order was needlessly exposed.

Colin de Grandhomme (2), Donovan Grobbelaar (4) and Kyle Mills (2) all departed in the next four overs before Bruce Martin smacked two fours and Hopkins hit the winning runs.

"We thought if we could take two or three in that 40-minute session before lunch we were right in it," Stead said.

"As it happened, with those late wickets, we would have loved another 20 or 30 runs and I would have loved to see Chris Martin coming out to bat."

But the Wizards did not bat well enough. Nicol was unlucky to be run out at the non-striker's end and Dean Brownlie said he didn't hit the ball he was given out off.

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Umpire Chris Gaffaney wasn't sure, but third umpire Gary Baxter gave it out immediately.

The rest of the top and middle order were all caught, paying the price for being too aggressive or just poor execution.

So the Wizards end the 2012-2013 season adding a second place to a pair of fifths in the Twenty20 and Plunket Shield first-class competitions.

Stead was struggling to find a positive last night.

"At the end of the day, our performances have to improve, there's no way of hiding that. Our job is to win titles.

"We showed glimpses at times, but we lacked consistency throughout the year."

Captain Ellis suggested the largely young side were talented enough that they would be pushing for titles in the near future and would only get better.

- The Press

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