The New Zealand State Championship 2003-04 December 1, 2003

Fulton shines in season opener

Members of the New Zealand Cricket Academy got off to a solid start on the first day of the State Championship for the summer. The Academy had a full programme of warm-up matches against all but Northern Districts of the Major Asssociations, and their match practice manifested itself in some sterling performances as the season got underway.

Peter Fulton led the way for Canterbury, against Otago, by scoring the season's first century while his Academy bowling mate Richard Sherlock celebrated his first-class debut for Central Districts by taking his first three wickets within his first nine balls against Wellington.

Canterbury 289 for 7 (Fulton 114, Broom 53, Wilson 3-60) v Otago

Canterbury, batting first against Otago at Timaru's Aorangi Park, produced the best batting performance of the day on a slow, early season pitch. Fulton, a triple centurion last year, was quickly into the groove, playing some elegant shots to hit 19 fours and one six in clearly the best display for his side.

However, even the best can be undone by class and that is what Jeff Wilson, the double international, achieved by bowling Fulton when he had scored 114 with a ball that moved in from well outside off to the tall left-hander. Wilson took three for 60, including a wicket in his first over as first-change bowler and then Fulton's wicket with the second over of the second new ball, and indicated that he was getting back into his most competitive cricket groove.

Later in the day, another Academy graduate Neil Broom also showed his class with 53 runs toward the end of the day. Several of the Canterbury batsmen got starts but once they attempted to accelerate they were undone. By stumps the side was still well placed at 289-7.

Auckland 99 for 7 (Richardson 40*, Orchard 3-7, J Yovich 2-19) by 31 runs trail Northern Districts 130 (Horsley 42, Robinson 40, Adams 5-40, Mills 3-33) by 31 runs

Northern Districts had problems while batting at home against Auckland at Trust Bank Park in Hamilton. They started well enough by scoring 65 before the first wicket fell, but with Andre Adams and Kyle Mills swinging into action they were all out 65 runs later.

Nick Horsley's 42 and Grant Robinson's 40 were the only innings of defiance as Adams took his fourth five-wicket bag in first-class cricket at a cost of 40 runs. Mills showed he was over the worst of the complaint that prevented him touring Pakistan by taking 3 for 33.

Any thoughts Auckland had of picking up cheap points for the first innings were rocked by another Academy player, Mark Orchard, who took 3 for 7. Joseph Yovich had earlier picked up the two openers Lou Vincent and Tim McIntosh for ducks. However, Mark Richardson's appetite for time spent in the middle proved invaluable again and he was holding the innings together at stumps, unbeaten on 40, with Auckland still 31 runs in arrears with only three wickets in hand.

Wellington 61 for 5 (Donaldson 21, Sherlock 3-11) trail Central Districts 139 (Thompson 55*, Spearman 29, Penn 4-46, I O'Brien 3-41, J Franklin 2-17) by 78 runs

Wellington's game against Central Districts at the Basin Reserve followed a similar course to that at Hamilton. Central Districts were dismissed for 139, a total substantially improved thanks to a last-wicket stand of 47, off 101 balls, between Ewen Thompson and Lance Hamilton. Thompson scored a maiden half-century off 131 balls, which was good reward for making his way back onto the first-class scene after not playing last year. Thompson, a left-arm fast-medium bowler, finished unbeaten on 55 as Central Districts were dismissed for 139. Earlier, Craig Spearman had scored 29.

Andrew Penn started his new summer in style with 4 for 46 off 18 overs. Ian O'Brien took 3 for 41 off 15.5 overs while James Franklin took 2 for 17 off 18 overs. But Sherlock undid Wellington's hopes. He came in as first change and, after Matthew Bell hit his first ball for two runs, bowled Bell with his next. Two balls later he had Michael Parlane caught at second slip. And off the third ball of his second over, Neal Parlane was dismissed as well. He finished the day with 3 for 11 off his five overs and CD in a very strong position.