A cricketing masterpiece from Lou Vincent has had the ultimate reward with his Auckland Aces team riding their nerves before winning the domestic one-day final against the Canterbury Wizards.
The former international was a class apart today when crafting a classical 153 off 152 balls as Auckland piled on 335 for five at QEII Park in Christchurch.
Once Vincent had laid waste to the Canterbury Wizard's bowlers the home side required something extraordinary to win their first One-Day title in five years. Instead, while they were anything but ordinary their robust reply reached 329 for nine to leave Auckland Aces celebrating their first title in four seasons by six runs.
For that they largely have to thank Vincent, a 32-year-old playing his 210th one-day match at this level.
Once he decided that if an job is worth doing it is worth doing properly he struck 16 fours and one six in three hours of controlled aggression.
He reached the 10th one-day century of his domestic career in the 34th over with Auckland at a threatening 180 for three as he and Greg Todd were in the midst of a boisterous fourth wicket stand which realised 136 runs in 22 overs.
Vincent was at his vivacious best and, much like an artist delights in expressing himself, he shared his talents by producing a couple of reverse sweeps, one a ho hum effort against a spinner and the other an altogether different beast off fast medium bowler Andy Ellis.
Vincent's third century of the summer lifted his one-day aggregate in 2010-11 to 642 runs at an average of 71.33.
Vincent and Todd were eventually parted with Auckland on 276 for four in the 46th over when left-hander Todd holed out for 46 off spiner Martin Kain and Vincent was not long in joining his teammate in the pavilion when his clinically brilliant inings ended when he was deceived by a slower ball from underfire quick bowler Richard Sherlock.
Colin de Grandhomme, with 26 off 10 balls, and Colin Munro, with 21 not out off 11, then completed the carnage by hurrying their team past the 300 marks as the runs flowed like wine in the closing overs.
None of the Canterbury attack were spared, with Sherlock coughing up 75 runs off eight entertaining overs while Rob Nicol and Mitchell Claydon had some satisfaction in completying their full complement of overs while keeping the Aucklanders to under six runs an over.
Canterbury's pursuit began inauspiciously as Michael Papps and Peter Fulton were dismissed cheaply before Rob Nicol and Dean Brownlie kept their heads above water with a fine partnership of 136 for the third wicket.
Brownlie was then the first to go, for 60 off 66 balls, while Nicol went on to complete an excellent century, reaching 119 off 112 balls, with eight fours and four sixes.
Although Nicol's outstanding contribution was in vain it did lift his one-day aggregate this summer to 648 runs at a Vincent-esque average of 72.
Shanan Stewart built on Nicol's good work with a high quality 60 off just 47 balls as Canterbury edged past 300 themselves and with 10 balls remaining they required 20 runs and had three wickets in hand.
They stayed in touch down the stretch but tailenders Mitchell Claydon and Richard Sherlock could not complete the deal with test paceman Chris Martin gave away only four runs.