BY PETER JONES
The Nelson Pine Griffins cricket team will challenge Southland for the Hawke Cup in a fortnight’s time.
It was three days of good old-fashioned Cup cricket at Horton Park that resulted in a first innings victory over old rivals Marlborough.
Nelson had cruised past Marlborough’s under-par first innings total of 212 by stumps on day two, well-placed at 331-6 with skipper Greg Hay unbeaten on 127.
Marlborough’s only realistic hope of forcing an outright decision was to take quick wickets but it was 28 overs into the final day before they were able to make inroads. Felix Murray was the first to go, seeming well poised on 92 to push for a century before he played a Sam Boyce delivery onto his stumps.
The two Bens, Hazlett and Stark, came and went quickly, but No 11 Jarrod McKay hung around with Hay who was nearing another double century. However, his marathon 370-ball knock came to an end when he was adjudged caught behind by Ma’ara Ave from Matthew Stretch’s bowling with his score at 180. He registered 18 boundaries in a totally professional exhibition of efficient run-gathering.
Late wickets to Stretch and Boyce helped Marlborough’s cause but it was a tired and frustrated team who trooped off for lunch after being in the field for 158 overs.
After the break a maximum of 52 overs were available to be bowled for the day, leaving the home side, who trailed by 238, their own version of “mission impossible” if they were to recover the situation.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, Marlborough’s top order chased quick runs and paid the price, former team-mate Stark grabbing 3-16 and fellow opener Jarrod McKay 1-9 from four overs apiece. With the score at 4-40 drinks came on the field and the respective captains agreed to conclude proceedings.
Nelson coach Ryan Edwards said he was extremely satisfied with how the match had gone.
“From the get-go they were good, that first hour on Friday, and obviously to be able to drive home the advantage over the course of day two was pretty important, so we’re very happy.”
When it came to singling out players Edwards said it was hard to go past Hay, but also mentioned the bowling unit which he described as “brilliant on Friday”.
“As a unit they were good in trying conditions. The wicket was pretty flat and there was a hefty breeze which we had to bowl into from one end. I thought Thomas Zohrab at times was very good doing the hard yards into the wind, Felix [Murray] again but, to be honest, while there are some good numbers against a few people’s names I am pretty happy with all 12.”
Now his side will turn their attention to the cup challenge in Invercargill after what he describes as “perfect preparation.”
“It’s been two and a half days of hard cricket … if we can repeat that performance in a couple of weeks time, whatever the result I’ll be pleased.”
Marlborough first innings 212 (Jerrym Lamb 106, Josh Poole 44, Joel Lavender 18, Thomas Zohrab 5-25, Willie Luddick 2-40, Ben Hazlett 2-30)
Nelson first innings 450 (Thomas Zohrab 45, Greg Hay 180, Patrick Howes 54, Felix Murray 92, Nick Weaver 1-71, Joel Lavender 1-45, Tarin Mason 1-54, Jerrym Lamb 1-71, Sam Boyce 2-37, Matt Stretch 3-88)
Marlborough second innings 40-4 (Prabodha Arthavidu 10, Ben Stark 3-16.