Devon Hotel Central Stags, 405 in 50 overs (How 177, Worker 71, Bracewell 78; Ellis 5-97) beat Canterbury, 188 in 29.1 overs (Nicholls 45, Astle 43, Milne 4-48 off 8) by 217 runs at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth
Jamie How begins his farewell Ford Trophy season in fairytale fashion, setting up a landslide win and a record total on a magic day out at Pukekura Park
Was there a dry #StagsNation eye in the house? A soon-to-be-retired batting legend, dropped last month, back for one last campaign, walks out to the middle of sun-soaked Pukekura Park in vintage touch. He calmly blasts his team to a colossal total — and himself to a record-smashing innings, the second highest individual score in Ford Trophy history, the highest total by the Devon Hotel Central Stags at this ground, only the second time they had broken 400 — first knock of his last hurrah. There’s a standing ovation from the terraces for one of the quickest List A centuries ever seen in New Zealand, and his family and parents are all here to watch. By the end of the day, the Stags will have won the game by one of the biggest margins ever seen: 217 runs.
Match video and player interviews:
Remarkably, the only victory with a bigger margin is unfolding at the very same time, down south at Molyneux Park in Alexandra.
The scorecard on its own will always tell the impressive tale of how Jamie How slaughtered 14 sixes and 14 boundaries in his 99-ball 177. The 50 came off 30 balls, the century off 61 balls, the 150 off 85. The opening partnership, with George Worker, was a blistering 170 in the astronomic total of 405. As we mentioned, it was only the second time the Stags had broken 400 — and How had been the destroyer on the previous occasion, too, with his New Zealand List A record 222 against the Knights two years ago at Seddon. The three highest scores by any one-day batsman for the Stags? That would be Jamie How against the Knights, Jamie How today against Canterbury and Jamie How last season against the Aces.
But to be there — that was to feel the ominous heat on the ball as How crunched his first four off Ryan McCone to get off the mark. To see the back to back sixes murdered off Ronnie Hira. The grin on George Worker’s face at the other end as his own string of potently struck sixes and fours could barely keep pace with the How masterclass. The emotion of that standing ovation.
When Worker fell on 71, at the beginning of the 22nd over, How was on 96. It put the brakes on for all of a minute or two before he brought up his three figures with another six, off a hurting Andy Ellis. Ben Smith was replaced by Will Young: How blinked, then pumped five more sixes in four overs — two of them back to back off Astle — to sprint even harder towards his 150.
The 150 came up with a boundary off Hamish Bennett. No one was spared. The ball was replaced, as no one could find it after he belted it over the terraces. It may have been hiding from more punishment. The looseness of the Canterbury attack had been easy fodder, and the fielding had weakened under pressure.
A six off Bennett, another off McCone. A 40-run partnership now with Kruger van Wyk — and the skipper only had five of them. And then, after almost 35 overs of unmitigated dominance, the wicket that nobody wanted to see, save the Canterbury contingent as Neil Broom got himself under one of the rare balls that How hadn’t hit cleanly.
But Kieran Noema-Barnett’s quick exit soon after, a brilliant grab from Henry Nicholls, proved only a temporary respite for Canterbury as Doug Bracewell assumed the big-hitting mantle, pelting five sixes in as many overs to race to the cusp of 50 — which he brought up with a four, off Ellis, off just 23 balls. He had come oh so close to beating the national fastest 50 record, and was en route to a career best 78.
By now, the Stags had amassed 255-6. Even two wickets in two balls for Ellis at the start of his last over (to give him his second Ford Trophy five-for, albeit at considerable cost) couldn’t stem the bleeding as pace bowler Andy Mathieson showed that he could carve good-looking sixes, too — one of which brought up the team’s 400.
How was by now sitting with his parents enjoying an icy drink in the heat of the day, watching the train he had started roll onto 405. Marty Kain, back in the side after a lengthy layoff with a side strain, was run out off the last delivery, all out. It hardly mattered: Canterbury were going to need a serious blinder to emulate this.
Opener Henry Nicholls showed no fear, enjoying his one-on-one battle with Milne, — who didn’t hold back.
Nicholls insolently hooked him for six in the ninth over, but when the quick knocked over his poles two overs later, Nicholls five short of a half-century, the visitors could not get themselves back in the chase. Regular wickets throttled Canterbury, dismissed for 188 inside 30 overs as the Stags dined out on a hugely sentimental landslide win in front of a well satisfied gallery at Pukekura Park.
Jamie How audio