By Jim Allnatt
All four matches in Premier Men Division One were one innings affairs due to the first day’s play being lost to rain.
Three of the four matches were drawn including Howick’s match against Takapuna, and at the end of the round The Marie Raos Ray White HPCC Premier Men are 17 points clear of second placed Suburbs New Lynn and are in with an excellent chance of clinching the prized Hedley Howarth Trophy in the last match of the season.
In Saturday’s match Howick Pakuranga won the toss and invited Takapuna to bat. Taine Jolley made an immediate breakthrough with his second ball but Max O’Dowd and Guy Harley took advantage of the benign Lloyd Elsmore wicket and took the score through to 147 before Harley was dismissed for 56. O’Dowd continued to take to the Howick bowling attack and was the last wicket to fall when Takapuna had used up its allocated 48 overs. O’Dowd scored 146 off 148 balls and was supported by the middle order as Takapuna ran up an imposing 266/4. Taine Jolley took 3/54 to top the bowling whilst Donovan Grobbelaar and Adam Jones both kept the batsmen in check conceding less than 4 runs an over. It was an innings of missed opportunities for Howick with several catches dropped at vital times.
Howick set about scoring the runs in its customary fashion with Walsh and Dan Young taking the shine off the new ball and setting a platform for the big hitters to take the game forward. Young went with the score at 31 when he was on 20 and Andrew Morrison worked well with Walsh to accelerate the scoring rate until he was out with the total at 81. Brian Barnard joined Walsh, who was still out in the middle and scored 30 off 26 balls including two big sixes. After 30 overs the game was nicely balanced at 136/3. Walsh and Donovan Grobbelaar put on 51 runs in in seven overs with Grobbelaar being dismissed for 33, also with two sixes to his name. Bill Walsh then accelerated the scoring rate, taking the long handle to the spinners and smashed a succession of fours and sixes and with three overs to go Howick needed 25 runs but intelligent death bowling from ter Braak and James restricted the local side to 253/7, just 14 runs short of victory.
The game ended in a draw and was probably a fair result. O’Dowd with his 146 and Walsh, 120, were the dominant players in the match, both playing magnificent innings’ for their teams. Howick now host eighth placed East Coast Bays at home next weekend and a win here will wrap up the title.
Howick Pakuranga Premier Women also had a good win over University Waitakere at home in the Prichard Cup. Batting first, the Llamas compiled 176/6 off 50 overs with Tasha van Tilburg scoring 41 and Amberly Parr 45. Van Tilburg is currently the top run scorer in this competition with 317 runs at average 79.25. University was looking good at 114/3 after 14 overs but crumbled to be all out for 139 in 28 overs. Marama Downes returned outstanding figures taking 5/42 and was well supported by Josie Penfold who took 2/17 off six overs. The Llamas currently sit in third place.