Allrounder James Franklin was obviously within earshot when Wellington Firebirds coach Jamie Siddons asked his senior players to step up to revive the team’s HRV Cup Twenty20 campaign.
The tall left-hander took Siddons’ plea on board as a classy, unbeaten half-century guided the Firebirds to their first win of the competition in the capital today.
That his 68 not out of only 38 balls inflicted the first defeat this campaign on Cup holders Auckland served only to add a thick layer of satisfaction felt by the home side as they passed the Aces’ 157 for nine with seven wickets and nine balls in hand.
Franklin hit three sixes and five fours in a mature and controlled innings at the Basin Reserve after he and Zimbabwe import Brendan Taylor set the Firebirds up with a stand of 48 for the third wicket before Taylor departed for a fine 53, scored off 37 balls and containing five fours and one six.
Earlier, the Firebirds did well to drag themselves back into the contest after the Aces at one stage looked likely to reach 175 or more.
But the Firebirds bowlers did the job late in the innings as four wickets tumbled in the last two overs, three of them in the closing over delivered by skipper Grant Elliott which leaked just two runs.
Kyle Mills was stumped by wicketkeeper Taylor, who one ball later combined with the bowler to run out Colin Munro then Elliott had Michael Bates caught for a duck as the Aces innings ended limply.
They had promised more on the back of 49 off 33 balls from skipper Gareth Hopkins and 39 off 27 by Anaru Kitchen.
Elliott’s reward were figures of three for 16 off three overs while spinners Jeetan Patel and Luke Woodcock were tidy as well, taking two for 24 off four and one for 25 off three as the Firebirds shared the responsibility of keeping the Aces in check.