Day four: Central Stags 403 (Kruger van Wyk 111*, Ben Smith 91, Todd Astle 8-146) and 182 (Kruger van Wyk 38, Todd Astle 6-86) lost to the Canterbury Wizards 582 (Tom Latham 261, Dean Brownlie 80, Ajaz Patel 6-162) and 4-1 (Dean Brownlie 4*) by nine wickets
The Canterbury Wizards may have been assured the title before the start of the final round, but that didn’t stop them from showing a ruthless streak to beat the Central Stags by nine wickets in the last game at McLean Park in Napier.
Following Tom Latham’s tremendous knock of 261 on day two, the Wizards finished the first innings with a lead of 178 runs. Thanks to a six wicket haul from Todd Astle, the Stags would then be all out for 182. Astle’s six alongside his eight scalps in the first innings made him just the 14th New Zealander to take a 14-wicketbag in a First-Class match.
Tom Latham went out third ball, but a four from Dean Brownlie quickly ended proceedings to give the Wizards the victory and allow celebrations to begin.
The Wizards had added 51 runs to their overnight total, before eventually being all out after 163.4 overs. Ajaz Patel took the last two wickets to capture his second five-wicketbag with figures of six for 162.
From this point the best the Stags could have hoped for was a draw, but they wouldn’t be able to fight off the pressure applied by Astle.
The 27-year-old picked up his maiden 10-wicket match, almost singlehandedly destroying the hosts. First-innings centurion Kruger van Wyk battled hard for 38, before he too feel to Astle and the end was in sight for the Wizards.
Overall, Astle finished with match analysis of 14 for 234 runs – the best of the season for any bowler.
It gave the Wizards their fifth outright victory of the season and meant they finished a full 20 points in front of the Otago Volts in second.
Congratulations the Canterbury Wizards!
Day three: Central Stags 403 (Kruger van Wyk 111*, Ben Smith 91, Dean Robinson 62, Todd Astle 8-146) lead the Canterbury Wizards 531-8 (Tom Latham 261, Dean Brownlie 80, Ajaz Patel 4-139) by 128 runs
Tom Latham has capped off his sublime First-Class form this summer with an extraordinary innings of 261 in the Canterbury Wizards Plunket Shield match against the Central Stags in Napier.
Having trailed by 198 at the start of day three, the Wizards now hold a 128 run advantage and are currently 531 for eight in response to the Stags 403. Dean Brownlie made an impressive 80, but the day was really all about Latham.
Resuming on 118, Latham continued to plunder the Stags bowling attack, striking 24 fours and a six on his way to his second First Class double century. He then surpassed his previous high score of 241*, before after more than nine hours at the crease, his tremendous innings came to a close.
It had crippled the Stags hopes of an outright victory, with a draw now looking inevitable.
There were cameos from throughout the rest of the Wizards batting line-up, with all of the top seven making a contribution of 20 or more.
It made for a tough day in the field for the Stags, who were made to toil hard for any breakthrough. Ajaz Patel was the pick of them, currently holding figures of four for 139 from 48 overs.
The Wizards now look forward to day four, before receiving the title that they had assured themselves before the start of the round.
Day two: Central Stags 403 (Kruger van Wyk 111*, Ben Smith 91, Dean Robinson 62, Todd Astle 8-146) lead the Canterbury Wizards 205-1 (Tom Latham 118*, Dean Brownlie 56*) by 198 runs
Tom Latham remains unbeaten on 118 at stumps on day two of the Canterbury Wizards Plunket Shield match against the Central Stags, leading his side to 205 for one in response to the Stags 403.
A Kruger van Wyk ton saw the Stags add 138 to their overnight score, with Tarun Nethula also making a handy contribution with 81. The real story of the innings though was that of Tod Astle, who took incredible figures of eight for 146.
Van Wyk and Nethula began the day by putting on a whopping 169 runs for the seventh wicket. Nethula looked to be eying up his second First Class century, but fell victim to Astle in the 138th over.
It would be the last major contribution from the tail, with Astle quickly cleaning up the rest to record career best figures and his sixth five-wicket-bag.
However, there was still enough time for van Wyk to bring up his century and after 165 balls and 217 minutes at the crease, the 34 year-old brought up the milestone. It was a typically gritty innings from van Wyk, who finished unbeaten on 111.
The Wizards though are on track in their reply, with an unbeaten 147 run second wicket stand between Latham and Dean Brownlie (56*) leaving them 198 runs behind.
The only wicket to fall was that of Peter Fulton, who was dismissed by Ajaz Patel for 26. Latham though was in formidable touch, bringing up his century off just 125 balls.
He and Brownlie will return on day three to try and erase
the deficit, before taking another crack at the Stags with the ball.
Day one: Central Stags 267-6 (Ben Smith 91, Dean Robinson 62, Kruger van Wyk 44*, Todd Astle 4-76)
Todd Astle took four wickets on what was an even day one for the Canterbury Wizards and Central Stags in their Plunket Shield match at McLean Park in Napier.
Having already assured themselves the title, the Wizards have little riding on the game, but will be intent on finishing the season on a high. The Stags however, who are currently tied with the Otago Volts, have the opportunity to finish outright second.
Led by opener Ben Smith with 91, the Stags reached 267 for six at stumps, with the rest of the top order contributing a number of cameos.
The main partnership came between Smith and Dean Robinson (62), who put on 121 for the second wicket to get the Stags to 133 for one. Unfortunately it was at this point that Robinson would be undone by the spin of Astle, departing in the 61st over.
Smith continued and was aided by starts at the other end, but wickets were beginning to fall at regular intervals. Having surpassed 1000 First Class runs, Smith himself would go in the 76th over, leaving the Stags 190 for four.
Kruger van Wyk took the reins from there on in, working his way to an unbeaten 44 at the end of the third session. He’ll resume on day two alongside Tarun Nethula, playing in his 50th Forst Class match, who is on 18.
Astle was easily the pick of the Wizards bowlers, finishing with figures of four for 76 from 33 overs. Ryan McCone and George Worker also picked up a wicket apiece.