Michael Mason should come out of retirement more often.
The veteran Central Stags seam bowler turned wrecking ball, routing the Otago Volts batting lineup for 63 with a career best return of six for 20 on the third morning of their Plunket Shield match on Bert Sutcliffe Oval at Lincoln today.
He almost singlehandedly handed the Stags victory by an innings and seven runs with five sessions to spare.
The 37-year-old had planned to have his feet up this week but answered an SOS from coach Alan Hunt, whose seam bowling reserves had been serious depleted by injuries and the unavailability of new international quick Doug Bracewell.
So, having decided to lace up his boots once more, Mason filled them today after the Volts resumed at 29 for one after conceding a deficit of 70 on the first innings.
Young fast bowler Adam Milne struck first, bowling Aaron Redmond with the second ball of the day, then Mason, a former one-day international, got into his work.
Neil Broom was trapped leg before wicket for a five-ball duck as the Volts slumped to 30 for three but it wasn’t until legspinner Tarun Nethula bowled opener Craig Cumming for 24 that the Volts innings unravelled at alarming speed.
The last seven wickets tumbled for 16 runs in the space of 9.1 overs as Mason got stuck in, finding edges behind to extract Derek de Boorder and Neil Wagner cheaply then trapping Ian Butler and Steven Finn in front to complete the rout.
It marked Otago’s lowest First-Class score since they capitulated for 57 against Wellington at the Basin Reserve in the capital in the summer of 1989/90.
Mason was not a lone ranger because he was very well support by his sidekick Nethula, who ended with three for 18 and an outstanding match analysis of nine for 50.
It was the second major collapse inside the opening two rounds of the shield competition after the Volts themselves rolled the Canterbury Wizards for 61 at Rangiora last week.
Day 2: Stags take their time
The Central Stags have put their patience to good use against Plunket Shield rivals the Otago Volts.
They eschewed the flamboyant and chose instead a pragmatic approach was best as they earned a handy first innings lead of 70 runs on the second day on Bert Sutcliffe Oval at Lincoln.
The Stags, dismissed in the third session for 277, reached the midway point of the match leading overall by 41 runs as the Volts moved to 29 for one by stumps, having again lost Brendon McCullum cheaply.
Resuming this morning at 49 for one chasing the Volts’ first innings of 207, the Stags made unspectacular but steady progress and were boosted by half-centuries to captain Kruger van Wyk and newcomer Ben Smith.
Van Wyk topscored with a fighting 72 at No 8 in the order, his runs coming in close to three hours as he hit 12 boundaries.
Twenty-year-old Smith continued his impressive introduction to the first-class stage as he grafted for 211 minutes to make 52, the fourth time he has posted a half century in five innings at this level.
Almost everyone else lent a hand as well, with captain Jamie How making 32, debutant Dean Robinson 20, Ross Taylor 24, Mathew Sinclair 32 and Carl Cachopa 20 against an attack which maintained tight lines.
Seamer Ian Butler took three of the final four wickets to fall to finish with the best figures of four for 62 off 15.1 overs while impressive left-arm quick Neil Wagner collected three for 78 off 24.
Day 1: Nethula has Volts in a spin
Central Stags legspinner Tarun Nethula has already left a significant imprint on the Plunket Shield match against the Otago Volts at Lincoln.
The 28-year-old returned career best figures of six for 32 as the Volts were rolled for 207 on the first day of the four-day match.
In response the Stags were 49 for one at stumps, the only victim being New Plymouth’s 22-year-old debutant Dean Robinson, who reached 20 before nicking behind off left-arm fast bowler Neil Wagner.
Resuming tomorrow are captain Jamie How on 27 with nightwatchman Nethula on two.
Nethula had earlier done more than his share as he toyed with the middle order to pick up his haul off 19.1 overs, trapping Neil Broom and Derek de Boorder leg before wicket, accepting a caught and bowled to remove Nathan McCullum, bowling topscorer Sam Wells for 57 and watching on as Ross Taylor caught Neil Wagner and Mathew Sinclair accept an offering from tailender Steven Finn.
The Volts had been comfortably placed at 127 for three in the 43rd over but the complexion of the day’s play changed completely when Nethula hit Broom in front when the batsman had made 28.
And once Wells joined Broom in the pavilion 25 runs later after 145 minutes in the middle the Stags turned the screws tight.
Nethula was the clear standout but the Stags were also well served by medium pacer Carl Cahopa, who took two for 41 from 15 overs.