NZ State Championship January 6, 2004

Wellington move into second spot

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Close Canterbury 443 and 58 for 1 beat Auckland 403 on the first innings

An interesting finish had been building for the Canterbury-Auckland showdown, but it was negated by Christchurch's weather. Only 1mm of rain fell in Canterbury over the month of December, but some welcome relief for parched grasslands meant there was an early end to the game at Hagley Oval.

Two periods of four overs and six overs were possible before misty drizzle set in and forced the umpires to abandon the match soon after the lunch break. Peter Fulton was 28 not out at the end with Shanan Stewart 15 not out.

There is a break in the Championship now while the annual one-day domestic series, for the State Shield, is played. It begins on January 9.

Close Central Districts 350 and 291 beat Otago 209 and 298 by 134 runs

Otago were looking for a substantial total to beat Central Districts at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth. They were set a target of 433 to win, but in spite of some hard hitting by their lower-order, they were unable to get any closer than 134 runs short.

It was a deserved change of fortune for Central Districts who, in earlier games in the competition have been unable to finish off opponents. But this time Jamie How's career-best bowling of 3 for 55, Lance Hamilton's 3 for 45 and Michael Mason's 2 for 34, allowed CD to take maximum points from the game.

Marcel McKenzie (58), Nathan McCullum (53) and Warren McSkimming (32) offered some defiance but ultimately it wasn't enough and Otago finished the fifth round, second from the bottom and CD were fourth.

Close Wellington 250 and 190 beat Northern Districts 125 and 221 by 94 runs

Wellington moved into second place in the State Championship after claiming maximum points from Northern Districts on the final day at Westpac Park. Wellington started the last day needing only three more wickets, and conceded only 31 more runs in doing so.

In a low-scoring game, the requirement of 316 to win was always going to be tough for Northern Districts and they were unable to dominate a competent Wellington attack. James Franklin continued his good allround season by taking 3 for 65. Matthew Walker's ability to tie down an end was a useful weapon throughout the game and he took 2 for 18 in the second innings, from 21 overs.

Mark Gillespie added 2 for 50, Luke Woodcock 2 for 44 and Jeetan Patel 1 for 18. Wellington took their points to 14, six behind competition leaders Canterbury.