Gillespie messes with Ellis' six-wicket day
It should have been Andrew Ellis' day until a barrel-chested Wellingtonian beat up Canterbury's bowling attack yesterday.
And, no, it wasn't Jesse Ryder doing the damage on the opening day of the Plunket Shield match at Rangiora. Mark Gillespie, more renowned for his ability with the ball, took some of the attention off paceman Ellis - who grabbed 6-58 off 15 overs - when he bludgeoned 77 runs off 63 balls in a record 10th-wicket stand of 113 against Canterbury. That ensured Wellington's first-innings total was a more respectable 239. It also broke the previous record of 87, set back in the 1944-45 season.
In reply, Canterbury were soundly placed at 91-2 by stumps.
Having combined with Andy McKay for the 113-run partnership, Gillespie was the instigator of something few spectators at Mainpower Oval believed possible when Wellington wobbled to 126-9.
With right-arm seamer Ellis collecting three wickets in the 41st over to take his bag to six, and Gareth Andrew having Scott Kuggeleijn caught behind next over, Wellington looked destined for a long day in the field.
Gillespie was having none of that. Whether it be driving off the front foot to send the ball back over the bowlers' heads or producing flamboyant cut shots over the slips cordon, he tugged Wellington from the quicksand.
There has to be some sympathy for spinner Tim Johnson as he copped three sixes from one over.
Ellis, who several seasons ago took 6-54 against Central Districts, later spoke of the difficulty of shutting down the pinch-hitter.
"He came out in an unorthodox way and the ball came off quite cleanly. It is quite difficult to bowl to someone when they are playing like that," Ellis said.
"He sort of brought the attack to us. We were looking for ways to try and get him but we didn't quite find the way early enough."
Gillespie wasn't about to retire to the shadows when Canterbury went into bat, either. Despite having spent 82 minutes salvaging his side's pride, he still possessed enough fire to have George Worker caught by Luke Ronchi for a duck. At five for two Canterbury were in trouble. But Dean Brownlie (53) and Peter Fulton (32) thwarted any suggestion of a capitulation.