This season’s Plunket Shield rolled around with little fanfare, but once it started it caught everyone’s attention. It even made onto prime time free-to-air news, and led the sports news in the major dailies.
Half an hour into the season Auckland was 12/7 and Ollie Newton had three wickets in his maiden first class over.
That match at the Basin was a bit of a statchat dream. Auckland all out in under a session for 62, and Wellington replying with a 432 run opening stand. Papps went on to score the first triple century for Wellington and finished unbeaten with 509% of the Auckland total. The home side went on to win by an innings and over 200 runs within three days.
But the game in Tauranga then took over the attention grabbing. After the first day was washed out the home side accumulated over 400 with a very egalitarian way of collecting runs.
In reply Central soon found themselves 7/3 and it looked like a mirror image of the game at the Basin.
But enter the gloriously named Brad Schmulian to upstage Newton in the dream debut stakes. Born in South Africa, raised on the North Shore before heading to another association to play first class cricket is a perfectly clichéd path. His 203 on debut broke a record that had stood since 1881.
The match at Hagley Oval was unremarkable by comparison. It was one of those early season games where batting got easier as the match progressed. Otago ended up winning it reasonably easily, partly because they got to bat last.
Provincial trolling and statchat aside, the Plunket Shield also acts as trial matches for the internationals ahead so here is a summary of the standout performances.
Papps’s feat is covered above but Woodcock’s 151 will go down as one of the least celebrated 151s in Plunket Shield history.
Daniel Flynn kept the neat order of that first innings scoreboard by following his 64 up with a 62.
Test incumbent Jeet Raval first innings was memorable for making just 3 yet being the sixth batsman dismissed. In the second innings he top scored with 73.
And Hamish Rutherford reminded us he is still about with a knock of 90 in Otago’s match winning chase
Then there was Schmulian and all those Northern batsmen making 50.
CD’s Ajaz Patel, born overseas, raised in Auckland now playing for CD (get the pattern?) took 6/48 for the individual performance of the round.
Special mention goes to Hamish Bennett for taking 3/2 off 5 overs. And Mark Craig made a welcome return to first class cricket with figures of 4/87
This was the first in a new series of Plunket Shield wraps. Given the tournament has no radio coverage anymore someone has to do it. However, it is almost exclusively done by reading scoreboards and NZC Press Releases. If you happen to go to any of the matches and have some observations to make please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with feedback. Cheers