The Northern Knights remain atop the Plunket Shield standings after grizzled veteran Graeme Aldridge ensured they secured a comprehensive win over the Canterbury Wizards today.
They were able to knock off early, too, after experienced seamer Aldridge fronted with career best figures of six for 41 to dismiss the Wizards for 213 in their second innings 30 minutes before lunch on the fourth and final day at Seddon Park in Hamilton.
It wrapped up victory by a margin of 241 runs as the Knights continued to have momentum on their side as they make all the early running in the competition.
The Knights had done all the hard work on the third day when posting 436 to leave the visitors an unlikely 455 to win.
Outside of a determined Andrew Ellis there was minimal resistance as Aldridge reduced the Wizards to 116 for five and the outcome was sealed in predictable fashion as he continued his good work to scythe through the tail today.
But it was fellow seamer Brent Arnel who caused the Wizards the early discomfort today as he removed an obstinate Ellis for 86 after the all-rounder had improved his overnight tally by 16 runs.
Todd Astle and Ryan McCone stuck around to provide nuisance value but they also eventually went, for 44 and 31 respectively, before the Knights completed the last rites.
In the end they had no answer to Aldridge as he picked up his 11th five-wicket haul for the Knights, while Arnel proved a handful we well, claiming three for 41, also off 20 overs.
Day 3: Marshalls set up Knights
The Marshall brothers have given the Northern Knights sterling service over many seasons and it was no different today.
Hamish Marshall scored 134 and his identical twin James made 98 to place their team in a position of considerable strength on the third day of a Plunket Shield match against the Canterbury Wizards at Seddon Park in Hamilton.
They provided the substance to the Knights’ second innings of 436, which left them leading overall by 454 runs on the third afternoon of the four-day fixture.
Already facing a daunting last innings target the Wizards’ cause was wrecked by experienced seamer Graeme Aldridge, who knocked the top off the order in a devastating spell.
He took three quickfire wickets as the southerners stumbled to three for three then 19 for four and 67 for five before reaching the sanctuary of stumps at a still precarious 116 for five.
That mini revival was due largely to a robust, unbeaten 70 from allrounder Andrew Ellis, who refused to be cowed by the situation as he hit nine fours and three sixes off 94 balls.
Aldridge’s share of the damage amounted to three for 26 off 14 overs.
The Knights had much to thank the Marshalls for after James resumed on 83 and Hamish 55 with the hosts at 234 for two.
James Marshall appeared destined for his 12th first-class century only to fall two runs short when he was trapped leg before wicket by impressive Wizards teenaged fast-medium bowler Matt Henry.
He had batted one minute shy of three hours before Henry beat him to end a third wicket partnership which realised 163 runs, but Hamish Marshall ensured the same fate did not befall him as he duly logged first-class century No 19.
Brook Hatwell also played his part by chipping in with a worthy 57 as the Wizards were kept waiting in the field.
The visitors were best served at the bowling crease by seamers Logan van Beek and Henry, who ended with three for 64 off 16 overs and three for 72 off 22 respectively.
Day 1: Arnel answers call for Knights
Veteran seamer Brent Arnel delivered the goods as the Northern Knights snatched first innings points in their Plunket Shield match against the Canterbury Wizards today.
The 32-year-old mixed control and movement off the surface to snare five for 43 and help roll the Wizards for just 151 on the second morning of the four-day fixture at Hamilton’s Seddon Park.
In taking his fifth five-wicket haul in 40 matches for the Knights, Arnel was instrumental in the home side earning a first innings advantage of 18 runs after their batsmen struggled as well on the first day when posting 169.
They made a better fist of things second time around as the pitch flattened out, extending the overall lead to a commanding 252 runs by reaching 234 for two at stumps.
Their healthy position owed much to an unbroken third wicket partnership of 127 between brothers James and Hamish Marshall which built on the good work of openers Brad Wilson and Joseph Yovich, who made 49 and 40 respectively.
James Marshall will take guard tomorrow on 83, scored in 141 minutes with 11 fours and two sixes, and joining him will be his sibling on 55, having struck six fours and one six, after almost two hours at the crease.
While Arnel enjoyed his work today as he got through 22.2 overs after the visitors resumed at 97 for four, wicketkeeper Tom Latham went on to topscore for the Wizards with 47.
Arnel did not have to look far for support, with teenaged spinner Mitchell Santner taking two for 10 off seven overs and James Baker claiming two for 35.
Day 1: Henry makes hay for Wizards
Matt Henry continues to make every post a winner in a seamless transition to the first-class arena.
The young Canterbury Wizards fast-medium bowler was at it again today, claiming career best figures of five for 21 as the competition-leading Northern Knights were knocked over for 169 in their first innings at Hamilton’s Seddon Park.
The Knights then kept themselves very much in the contest by reducing the Wizards to 97 for four by stumps on the first day of the four-day match.
Henry was to `go to’ man for Wizards skipper Peter Fulton, who chose to field upon winning the toss, a decision quickly vindicated as Henry and fellow seamers Willie Lonsdale and Andrew Ellis kept the vaunted Knights batting card under pressure.
In just his sixth first-class appearance the 19-year-old collected a five-wicket haul for the third time to lift his brief career analysis to 25 wickets at an average of 15.16.
Tellingly, all of his victims today came from the top and middle order as the Knights collapsed from a comparatively healthy 85 for two.
Henry delivered 13 overs, the same as Lonsdale, who ended with three for 38 while Ellis picked up the remaining two for 51 runs off 13.2 overs.
The Wizards safely saw out the nine overs until tea to reach the break on 21 without loss before losing four wickets in the final session, with openers George Worker trapped in front by Brent Arnel for 13 and Joel Abraham making 27 before offering a catch to Mitchell Santner from the bowling of James Baker.
Fulton went for 22 and Henry Nicholls two as the Wizards also found the going difficult. They resume tomorrow looking for Tom Latham, on 22, and Ellis, on eight, to make major inroads and firstly overtake the Knights total then build a lead.