Paradise turned to hell for batsmen

BEN STRANG
Last updated 05:00 27/01/2014

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Historically, McLean Park in Napier is a batters' paradise.

That wasn't the case for the Northern Knights' four-day loss against Central Districts last week, where 37 wickets fell for only 660 run in little more than two days.

Knights coach James Pamment said it was his first time at the venue, and knows the ground is traditionally one for the batsmen.

"We know it's usually good for batting, but the pitch gave the seam bowlers movement for the whole match," he said. "When you have 37 wickets for 660 runs, that tells the story in itself.

"I know there was an ODI played there two days earlier, so perhaps they had little time to prepare the wicket.

"They have a very good groundsman, and it's not for me to say if the pitch was good enough. He'll review it for the future."

Central had the advantage from the coin toss on Thursday morning, when they inserted Northern on the green seamer.

The Knights battled through to 195 all out on day one, and had Central on the ropes at 71-5 before Kruger van Wyk and Doug Bracewell notched half centuries to move the team to 265 all out on the second day.

Northern were again rolled for a paltry 139 in only 48.5 overs, with only Scott Kuggeleijn and Bharat Popli scoring more than 20 runs.

Central only needed 70 runs for the win, and started batting with five overs left to play on day two.

Up stepped Kuggeleijn, grabbing three quick wickets on Friday evening to leave Central reeling at 15-3 overnight.

Graeme Aldridge then put the ball in the right areas on Saturday morning, clattering both Ben Smith and Will Young on the pads, before having Greg Hay and Doug Bracewell caught by Joe Carter in the cordon.

At 27-7, Central had lost all momentum, giving the Knights a shot at an unlikely victory.

However the momentum then shifted in the home side's favour, when Kieran Noema-Barnett was dropped by Daniel Flynn.

"They would have been 27-8, and we would have been in with a great shot at grabbing a victory," Pamment said. "Unfortunately it wasn't to be. We didn't take our chances."

Noema-Barnett went on to score 28 off 50 balls, while van Wyk scored 22 off 34 to guide Central home.

Aldridge ended with 4-20 from nine overs, while Kuggeleijn had 3-33 from 11 overs.

The Knights now head to Gisborne for a four-day match against Canterbury, starting on Thursday.

Pamment said his team needs to work on all aspects of their game after falling to the bottom of the shield standings, but said that their performance in Napier could not be read into too much.

"We'll head up to Gisborne and try to make up for that loss. Hopefully we get a better pitch in Gisborne then we had in Napier."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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