Firebirds' Franklin gives himself a workout

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2014
James Franklin
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax Media
BOWLING BACK THE YEARS: A back injury to Andy McKay forced Wellington skipper James Franklin to wind back the clock.

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A back injury to Andy McKay forced Wellington skipper James Franklin to wind back the clock in Auckland yesterday.

Now very much a batsman who bowls, instead of the other way around, Franklin was expecting to wake up stiff and sore this morning after taking 2-90 from 23 overs at Eden Park Outer Oval.

It was hard toil on a flat pitch, with Auckland reaching 328-8 in their second innings; a lead of 424 after three days of the final-round, dead-rubber Plunket Shield match.

The 33-year-old estimated it had been "about five years" since he'd got through 20-plus overs in a day.

"So the body will feel it in the morning. But it was good to get through some work with the one-dayers coming up."

McKay did not bowl yesterday, a precautionary decision to ensure his availability for Sunday's opening one-dayer against Central Districts in Palmerston North.

"His back locked up on him on Monday morning," Franklin said.

"He's still a bit ginger and it will probably take another couple of days for him to get all his range back. We want him to be fully fit for that game. It's a spasm in his back that will just takes a few days to get right again."

Former Firebird Craig Cachopa, a double centurion in Auckland's first innings, was again the major thorn in Wellington's side yesterday.

Cachopa top-scored with 90, while Colin de Grandhomme capped his career-best 6-24 with a brisk 71.

Bruce Martin and Matt Quinn are at the crease and Franklin said the victory target was already too big to talk up their chances of a successful chase.

"The pitch is dead once the ball gets to the 20, 30-over stage but it's cricket so you've still got to work hard and apply yourself as a batting group. If they do declare overnight and we get most of the day to bat it's only something we can consider, in terms of winning the game, in the last hour."

Franklin had praise for young seamer Ili Tugaga, who took 2-57 from 19 overs into the wind yesterday after his 0-63 off 22 in the first innings.

"He's bowled beautifully right throughout both the Auckland innings. He's bowled into a stiff breeze for 40 overs and had been pretty unlucky until he got a couple of wickets which was good reward for him. He's worked hard in the last four or five weeks on his fitness and getting his bowling loads up and he's done a really good job for us this game."

In Napier, Black Caps batsman Tom Latham plundered a career-best 261 for champions Canterbury against Central Districts.

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It was the 21-year-old's second double ton of the season, topping the unbeaten 241 he scored against Wellington at Karori Park.

The left-handed opener hit 30 fours and one six in his 383-ball stay.

Latham's feat of twin doubles has only been achieved twice before in New Zealand at domestic level and he follows in the footsteps of fellow Cantabrian Chris Harris (251no and 206 both against Central Districts in 1996-97) and John Hiddleston (Wellington) back in 1925-26 against Canterbury (212) and Auckland (204).

Latham said he felt honoured to join such an exclusive group although he had a readymade mentor after Brendon McCullum's batting exploits against India where a triple ton followed a double century in the two test matches.

"Going out there and getting another big score is always what you are after. That's the most rewarding and pleasing thing."

Canterbury are 531-8 in their first innings, a lead of 128.

In Dunedin, Otago completed a four-wicket win over Northern Districts.

Chasing 131, there were some jitters in the home camp when Jimmy Neesham departed at 79-6 but the experienced pair of Nathan McCullum and Derek de Boorder guided them home.

- The Dominion Post

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