A five-wicket win to home team the Wellington Firebirds made for good times on the banks at the Basin Reserve as the 2015/16 Ford Trophy got underway in Wellington — and it proved the perfect way to celebrate Luke Woodcock’s 100th Ford Trophy game in gold and black.
Home captain Michael Papps aked the SKYCITY Northern Knights to bat, the visitors going in with two key batsmen back in their fold in the form of Dean Brownlie (back from injury) and Anton Devcich.
Brownlie’s return did not last long thanks to evergreen seamer Brent Arnel, but Devcich’s run-a-ball 64 would prove invaluable to his team’s hopes as they wrestled with the Firebirds for dominance — well aware that their hosts were coming off an impressive Plunket Shield batting performance at the same ground.
Captain Daniel Flynn had held them together at the top, top-scoring with an 84-ball 69 before he was run out by his opposing skipper in the 30th over.
Despite a promising 25 from BLACKCAP Corey Anderson, it had otherwise looked in danger of being a lone hand until Devcich joined Flynn at 95/3 and, after Flynn’s departure, set about rustling up 32 runs with BJ Watling, then almost 50 for the sixth wicket with youngster Tim Seifert.
Seifert and Scott Kuggeleijn would add some quick late runs, but Arnel kept exerting his influence and the stands were broken at key moments.
After having stopped Devcich from using his explosive finishing power, he picked up two late wickets — including the fearless Kuggeleijn — to collect 4-45 off his set of 10 overs, while the Knights made it through to 267/9 in their 50.
A fair tally, but their attack could not make enough breakthroughs to defend it against the strong Firebirds batting line-up.
Craig Cachopa (10 boundaries and four sixes in his 95) was gutted to fall short of a century when he was bowled by Devcich, but between his aggression and Stephen Murdoch’s calm, unbeaten 83, the hosts’ work was all but done.
Woodcock, who has already notched up a century of first-class games for the team, capped his List A milestone match with an unbeaten 31.
Round two sees the SKYCITY Northern Knights host their first home game of the season at Seddon Park against the Mondiale Auckland Aces on “Border Wars” Wednesday, while the Firebirds stay put at the Basin Reserve to prepare for defending champs the Devon Hotel Central Stags, who will be looking for their first win.
All FORD TROPHY matches are livescored at www.blackcaps.co.nz and on the BLACKCAPS mobile app