Plunket Shield round four: Devon Hotel Central Stags 289 all out in 75.2 overs (Bruce 54, Bracewell 105; Wagner 5-92 off 22) drew with the SBS Bank Otago Volts 13/0 by 276 runs after Day Three at Queenstown Events Centre, Queenstown
After an entertaining day three, disappointment was in store for both teams as heavy rain returned to Queenstown, the match abandoned with no further play on the last morning.
Ten wickets, a belting century, a five-for and a fifty on debut: after two days sitting around twiddling thumbs, players from both the Devon Hotel Central Stags and SBS Bank Otago Volts tore into making up for lost time when they got on the field after lunch on day three.
The century belonged to Doug Bracewell, his second at first-class level and a cracker at better than run-a-ball pace. It brought relief to the Stags who had teetered at 98/4 after early wickets to Neil Wagner, Jacob Duffy, Craig Smith and Mark Craig.
The Stags’ first-class newbie Tom Bruce continued his habit of making a good first impression as he brought some steadiness with a half-century on debut — paving the way for the Bracewell exhibition.
The BLACKCAPS bowler then took the Stags to 255/7 with his boundary-rich hundred, which he posted with a single off Wagner in the 69th over, Ajaz Patel holding the other end.
Wagner had stopped Bruce in his tracks when he had him caught by Jesse Ryder, and albeit for a tad more damage he eventually took out Bracewell in the 71st over in identical fashion. Then he zeroed in on Patel: two wickets in the space of four balls handed him his 19th first-class five-for, a return of 4-43 in his nine-over spell and clinched maximum bowling bonus points for the hosts.
After the Stags were dismissed, Volts openers Aaron Redmond and Ryan Duffy navigated the last three overs before stumps to trail by 276 with a day to play.
Despite a brilliant sunny day, prematch rain was destined to curtail efforts to get the game underway for a second successive day.
The toss was made and, unsurprisingly, the SBS Bank Otago Volts opted to bowl, but play had barely got underway when Iain Robertson was injured slipping over in the field, during the fourth over. Opening bowler Neil Wagner had already slipped over twice at the bowling crease: whilst the surface had appeared fine, it was apparent now that there remained too much moisture lurking under the grass for play to proceed safely.
Cue a lengthy ‘ground delay’ and another early lunch before play was abandoned for the day, the Devon Hotel Central Stags 6/0.
Fresh from a Ford Trophy in which he became one of few men to top 500 runs in a season and earned the MVP title, George Worker scored another accolade as he stepped up as captain of the Devon Hotel Central Stags for the first time, while regular skipper Kruger van Wyk stayed at home in preparation for the birth of his second child.
The Stags unit had also had to be reorganised in the wake of Jamie How’s retirement, Dean Robinson moving into the opening slot. Dane Cleaver took van Wyk’s wicketkeeping gloves, while spinner Ajaz Patel was back for the red ball resumption. The Stags also rewarded Taranaki standout Tom Bruce with an elevation to first-class cricket after his star turn on debut in the Ford Trophy Finals series.
But after all that, players new and old had to sit around and kill time in their stunning but damp surrounds, a decision taken early that there would be no play until at least after lunch. The outfield had been drenched the day before by heavy rain, and concern centred on the bowlers' run-ups. Later in the arvo, the umpires decided everyone could head off: no play on the first day of round four possible.
The SBS Bank Otago Volts are without the services of Hamish Rutherford as the BLACKCAPS opener deals with getting his eyes lasered, replaced at the top by Ryan Duffy. The Volts have also called in Southland seamer Craig Smith for his first first-class game in nearly four years, and Iain Robertson returns, with BLACKCAP Jimmy Neesham needing to rest his protracted back injury.
The Plunket Shield is brought to you by Budget Car and Truck Rental.