By Jim Allnatt
The Marie Raos Ray White HPCC Premier Men are closing in on the Auckland Two Day Championship in the final match of the season against East Coast Bays.
Even though the side is leading the division by 17 points from nearest rivals Suburbs New Lynn a loss could threaten that lead.
East Coast Bays won the toss and invited the Alpacas to bat on a dampish wicket and humid conditions.
The visiting bowlers found conditions to their liking and Howick lost early wickets with Dan Young, Andrew Morrison and Glenn Phillips back in the pavilion with the score at 46/3. Blair Smith and Ryan Harrison were the successful bowlers. Dale Phillips joined Bill Walsh at the crease and this pair added 84 runs before Phillips was dismissed for three short of his 50 for 47.
Eight runs later Donovan Grobbelaar lost his wicket and the omens didn’t look too good for Howick who were 138/5 at that stage. David Winn replaced Grobbelaar at the wicket and worked well with Walsh to take the total through to 201/6 before he was caught at mid on for 45.
The match continued on a knife edge with East Coast Bays looking to press home its advantage and Howick fighting hard to get on top. Wickets fell at 214 and 238 and with Howick now eight wickets down it did seem as if things were going south for the lads from Lloyd Elsmore.
However skipper Bill Walsh had batted steadily all day and brought up his century shortly after tea. He was joined by Danru Ferns who took a few minutes to assess conditions and then proceeded to set about the visitors bowling with a will. Together with Walsh this pair added 92 runs to the total and when Walsh was dismissed for 126, Howick’s score stood at 330/9 which put it in a strong position.
No one expected what happened next. Jamie Brown came in at eleven and looked in full control from the moment he took guard. Ferns had already scored his half century at a good rate but he launched a blistering attack on the tiring East Coast bays side.
In the end he was caught off Delport’s left armers for 94 and Howick Pakuranga was finally all out in the days last over for 383. This pair had put a stand of 53 with Brown undefeated on 12 off 15 balls. Ferns’ innings included 7 sixes, usually over long on and was a quality effort.
No question that Howick Pakuranga came out on top at the end of the day but the team had to really struggle at times and probably the key to its big score was the determination and pluck of opener Bill Walsh who lasted over five hours at the crease and the players were able to build a total around him.
It is East Coast Bays turn to bat next week but the Alpaca’s formidable first innings total has put the locals in a strong position to win the match but the job is not done yet and the players know that.
The Marie Raos HPCC Premier Reserve Men are in a solid position in their final match against University. Batting first in similar conditions to those of the Premier Men Howick struggled to score a moderate 211. Brandan Laurenzi ended his season on a high note with 64 and Mike Rose contributed 48. However University had lost five wickets for 109 at the close of play with Matt Blandford taking 4/14.
Howick Pakuranga Premier Women finished their season with a loss to the star studded University Waitakere side. Batting first the Llamas scored 122/9 with Holly Topp 27 and Lucy Western 23 top scoring. University replied with 125/5 scored off 28 overs.
New Zealand White Fern Anna Peterson contributed over half that total with 70 not out. Josie Penfold 2/42, Skye Bowden 1/26, Marama Downes 1/18 and Alyssa Bowden 1/9 all showed that were well up to Premier standard. This was a vast improvement on the previous year and we look to even better results next season.