Cricket reps book hometown final

The Marlborough players clap medium-pacer Sam Boyce from the field after his five-wicket haul at Horton Park on Saturday. Photo: Peter Jones.

It’s home sweet home for the Marlborough senior men’s rep cricketers after they completed a comfortable first innings win over Canterbury Country at the weekend.

On Saturday, they earned the right to host the forthcoming Hawke Cup zone three cricket final when they bettered nearest challenger Canterbury Country on the first innings, then on Sunday the match was called off early with little chance of an outright result and Country unable catch the hosts even if they did get one.

After being inserted at Horton Park the visitors, who trailed Marlborough by seven points on the overall standings going into the weekend’s final round robin match, were undone by a steady diet of controlled pace bowling.

They were dismissed for a meagre 139 in the 44th over, a total Marlborough passed for the loss of just five wickets, effectively booking hosting rights for the three-day zone challenge decider on February 14-16.

Hero with the ball for Marlborough was seamer Sam Boyce who claimed 5-34 from nine overs. The experienced medium pacer troubled all the opposition batsmen, bowling two of his victims and having three caught behind by keeper Ma’ara Ave. Nick Weaver continued his recent wicket-taking form, grabbing 2-48 from 13. Harry MacDonald bowled economically, conceding just 20 runs from his 10 overs, as did Chris Turkington, 1-8 from five, and Jerrym Lamb, 1-22 from seven.

Canterbury Country opener Rupert Young provided the most resistance for the southerners, putting together a patient 49 from 73 balls, but his team mates struggled to provide support. No 8 batsman Angus Sidey, with 22 from 38, helped out near the end but their final tally was never going to be enough if Marlborough, even without key batsman Prabodha Arthavidu who is unavailable this week, batted well.

And that they did. There were initial hiccups with Joel Lavender, Ave and skipper Matthew Stretch all back in the pavilion before tea with only 33 on the board. Opener Tom Sutherland, who contributed a dogged 33 from 72 balls departed soon after the break, bringing veterans Andrew McCaa and Jerrym Lamb together.

Despite Country ringing the bowling changes in an attempt to make further inroads the pair combined for a game-changing partnership of 79 before McCaa fell for a defiant 38 from 69. Lamb was joined by MacDonald who quickly took the attack to Country, a six over long on pushing the home side’s tally past their rivals and confirming final hosting rights.

MacDonald’s quick-fire innings of 19 ended with the score at 152, then Lamb was dismissed for a superb 56 from 113 balls just 15 runs later. The former captain’s composure under pressure and willingness to play each ball on its merits were pivotal on a day when batting application was not always top priority.

However the some side were not done, showing off their batting depth as the visitors wilted in the late evening sunshine. Akhil Pant, on his debut, was unbeaten on 24 at the close while Cooper Roberts scored a composed 19 from 30 balls as Marlborough ended a satisfying day at 217-8 from 66 overs, an overall lead of 78 runs heading into the final day.

On a sweltering Sunday morning, Marlborough continued to frustrate the visiting attack, Pant moving through to a well-organised 47 from 85 balls, and featuring in a 50-run partnership with Chris Turkington who finished unbeaten on 23 as Marlborough’s first innings ended on 261, a lead of 122.

Best of the Country bowlers, who were accurate and economical although not constantly threatening, was medium pacer Will Smith, a late call-up for Canterbury player Fraser Sheat, who bagged 4-50 from 16 overs. Sam Chamberlain picked up 2-36 while opening paceman Jed Roberts grabbed 2-34.

Batting a second time, Country looked more solid, moving through to 81-1, Jeremy Benton 42 not out, before time was called by captain’s agreement at the scheduled lunch break.

Marlborough head coach Jarrod Englefield said his side “got heaps” out of the game.

“It was a very pleasing result. We had to approach this game differently to the last one … the way the points were structured we had to make sure we didn’t lose outright so we could gain a home final … we decided to give ourselves the best chance of doing that by bowling first.

“To bowl like we did showed a lot of character … we put the ball in the right areas … any time you can bowl Canterbury Country out for 139 is a great effort.

“When we batted we were under pressure at the top but we established partnerships, batted deep and long. To get 250 showed we are batting well at the moment – it just gives us a lot of confidence moving into the final.”

Englefield was delighted by Boyce’s effort. “It was his second five-wicket bag for Marlborough – he set it up for us by getting out the key batsmen. He was outstanding and well supported by Harry MacDonald, Chris Turkington and Nick Weaver.

“With the bat we had Jerrym and Andrew who showed their experience, knuckled down in a tight spot and gave us a really good chance of getting the first innings result. Akhil Pant also batted well … there were plenty of highlights.”

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