Wellington Firebirds hope full orchestra fires for Ford Trophy final against Canterbury

As good as Matt Taylor has been this season, Wellington hope he isn't required on Saturday.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/FAIRFAX NZ

As good as Matt Taylor has been this season, Wellington hope he isn't required on Saturday.

As good as the Wellington Firebirds have been this season, the full orchestra is yet to play unison.

When the string instruments have been delighting, the percussion has been lacking. Brass and woodwind have been strangely silent, only to pipe up when the others have dimmed.

At some point, though, everyone will be playing to the peak of their ability at the same time, and when the Firebirds reach the end of their crescendo, watch out.

Since a four-game losing streak to start the McDonald's Super Smash, Wellington's white ball campaign has seen 13 victories, three losses and two matches abandoned.

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The Twenty20 title was won in that span, while their remarkably consistent form has led them to the Ford Trophy final against Canterbury on Saturday.

All that despite the fact that only one or two men have stepped up in each game, putting together match winning performances.

Michael Papps, for instance, had been quiet during the Ford Trophy before scoring 80 against Central Districts on Wednesday. Luke Woodcock and Matt Taylor then closed the game out in the final overs, leading to victory number 14 on the season.

As good and consistent as Woodcock and Taylor have been down the order, there must be a time when they won't be required, and the Firebirds would love for that to be Saturday at Rangiora.

"If you look back at the season, we probably haven't delivered the full package yet," coach Bruce Edgar admitted.

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"Guys keep stepping up and putting in performances which win us games, but I can't honestly go through our games and pick one out in which we really dominated. In which we really fired."

That's got to be a scary thought for Canterbury.

In eight games, Wellington have just one century maker, in Hamish Marshall. Michael Papps and Woodcock have two 50s each, while Matt Taylor has one.

Otherwise the batsmen have been getting starts, with 12 scores between 30 and 49.

If there comes a game where Woodcock or Taylor aren't required to bat, the opposition will be in serious trouble.

"We'd like to see the top five really take ownership and dominate an innings," Edgar said of his batting lineup.

"If they could do that, we are confident that our bowlers will come in and chip away at the opposition. They've been very good this season."

In many ways, the fact Wellington haven't had a great combined day has helped them.

Hamish Bennett, enjoying an economical and fruitful season after moving from Canterbury to Wellington, said they went through the team at the start of the season and judged which players could win them a game.

So far, all have delivered, but not all at the same time, "which is probably a good thing", Bennett admitted.

Now the Firebirds will hope they can in a game that could secure them a second trophy of the summer.

Wellington take on Canterbury in the Ford Trophy final from 11am, Saturday at Mainpower Oval in Rangiora.

AT A GLANCE:

Wellington: Hamish Marshall (c), Brent Arnel, Hamish Bennett, Tom Blundell, Scott Borthwick, Iain McPeake, Stephen Murdoch, Michael Papps, Jeetan Patel, Michael Pollard, Matt Taylor, Anurag Verma, Luke Woodcock.

Canterbury: Todd Astle, Chad Bowes, Jack Boyle, Andrew Ellis (c), Cameron Fletcher, Peter Fulton, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Johnston, Cole McConchie, Henry Nicholls, Henry Shipley, Logan van Beek.

 - Stuff

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