Otago coach defends Dunedin as Test venue
Otago's victory against Auckland at Dunedin may have prompted a call for the pitch doctor as 34 wickets fell inside two days, but their coach Mike Hesson says questions over the pitch's suitability for the Bangladesh Test in January have been blown out of proportion. "I wouldn't be worried about it at all," Hesson told the New Zealand Herald. "We've had a good review on it, we've got a few heads together and talked about things we can do better and I'm more than confident it'll be fine come Test time." Although the Bangladesh Test is on the ground in four weeks, New Zealand Cricket's chief executive Justin Vaughan isn't sounding the alarm bells just yet, preferring to send his head of pitch management to Dunedin to assess the situation. The outcome is still awaited.
Otago stumbled along to their six-wicket win, losing four in pursuit of their 55-run target. They were grateful for their first-innings 170 (a recovery from 18 for 3) which provided a comparatively handy lead of 78 after rolling Auckland for 92, with Bradley Scott taking 6 for 20, his fifth five-wicket haul. Andre Adams tops cored for Auckland in the first innings with 29, while in the second Tim McIntosh's 47 proved the highest in the match, but his side collapsed for 128 with Warren McSkimming taking 4 for 32.
It was the rain which scuppered proceedings in what could have been an exciting finish between Northern Districts and Central Districts in Hamilton. Central Districts, who were set 241, were five down with 193 on the board when play was finally called off at 6.20pm. The morning's play was lost to the weather, ruining the chances of a result and of Greg Hay making his second first-class hundred. He was stranded on 95, and had missed out in the first innings with 99, a score also made by James Marshall in the opening dig when Daniel Flynn managed to reach his ton as they put on 341, with seven catches behind. Graeme Aldridge grabbed 5 for 27 to bowl out Central Districts for 269, before his captain declared on 168 for 3 to set up a would-be intriguing chase.
Earlier in the week Matthew Bell starred with 188 not out in a 90-run victory for Wellington over Canterbury in Wellington.
Player of the Week Matthew Bell
He might not have played Test or ODI cricket since 2001 but Bell, 30, is clearly keen to show the selectors that perhaps he deserves another chance. When there were concerns over New Zealand's top order in South Africa Mathew Sinclair stood up in the domestic competition and now Bell has added his name to the list of potential Test candidates. His unbeaten 188 not only set up Wellington's victory but he now sits on top of the State Championship run table with 425 at 85. Last season he was also productive with 397 runs at 56.71.