Batting duel brings best out of tail-enders

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 08/02/2013

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Matt McEwan has revealed an in-house batting duel with fellow Canterbury tailender Tim Johnston has helped deliver a career-best performance with the bat.

Batting at No 11 against Northern Districts yesterday, McEwan's valuable 27 not out helped Canterbury salvage some respectability in their first innings on day one at the new Hagley Oval pitch.

From 136 for nine, McEwan's clever knock helped Canterbury through to 172.

He then produced his career-best bowling figures of five for 20 off 12.4 overs to help skittle ND for just 108.

"Not too bad a day, eh," he said.

McEwan and Johnston are competing for the No 10 batting spot for Canterbury.

Under coach Gary Stead's instructions, the man who scores the most runs gets the job.

McEwan had the role in the side's last game.

However, when Johnston scored 33 not out against Wellington, he earned the role.

Johnston's first baller yesterday gave McEwan just the opportunity he needed.

Instead of his normal bullying batting style of club cricket, McEwan was more watchful. However, he did get pinged in the head - again.

"That's the third time and third helmet I've wrecked," he said.

With the ball, he picked up ND skipper Brad Wilson and Black Cap Kane Williamson.

Earlier, captain Peter Fulton again top-scored for the Wizards with 52.

Impressively, Fulton has passed 50 nine times in seven games this season.

McEwan had an unlikely ally in Shanan Stewart at the bowling crease yesterday. Stewart posted career-best figures of three for 17 from 10 overs.

The jury remains out on the Hagley Oval wicket.

Twenty wickets in a day does set off alarm bells.

However, it was not as difficult as the scoreboard would suggest.

Batsmen's techniques, or lack there of, were equally to blame.

In the other match, Auckland are well in control against Wellington at the Basin Reserve.

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