December 27, 2000

Wellington win a slow affair

Wellington and Auckland put in a performance for most of this fourth-round Shell Cup match that can give one-day cricket a bad name - and then found something in the last 10 overs to return some semblance of respectability to the match.

The records will show that Wellington scored 218 for eight off their 50 overs and Auckland were bowled out off the last ball of their 50 for 213, Wellington recording their first win in four matches by five runs.

The match started promisingly enough after Wellington got over their worries about being put in first on a green pitch and losing Chris Nevin in the second over. They went along comfortably enough at a little over fours courtesy of Matthew Bell, Auckland transplant Richard Jones and a regular supply of four balls from the bowlers.

Bell contributed 61 and Jones 42 as they put on 81 for the second wicket. But that was the end of the substatntial partnerships as only Jason Wells with an unbeaten 50 contributed anything more of substance. The innings meandered along as the Auckland bowling, particularly that of Kyle Mills (10-2-37-1) and Mark Haslam (10-0-37-2), did not provide any leeway to batsmen who did not seem interested in looking for it.

In the end 218 was not much to show for some early endeavour.

But if Wellington did not look interested in going for runs, nor did Auckland. John Aiken held up one end but his prospective partners came and went with monotonous regularity and with little to show for their presence. Monotonous became the operative word as Wellington dawdled through their overs, producing little more than 12 an hour, the Auckland innings taking just a couple of minutes short of four hours.

And when Aiken departed for 56 with the score at 128 for five in the 37th over, it looked all over for Auckland. However, Andre Adams and first Tama Canning and then Richard Morgan broke the shackles that had taken hold of the match.

Canning provided a quick-fire 18 off 20 balls and then Adams (47 off 33 balls) and Morgan (10 off 15) conbined for a 57-run eighth wicket partnership that put a most unlikely victory in reach. However, they had been asked to do too much in too little time.

Auckland's final pair, Mills and Haslam, who had done so well with the ball, were asked to get 10 off the last over. No fairy-tale ending here.

Of the Wellington bowlers, Stephen Mather and Carl Bulfin had a couple of horror overs at the end when Adams in a particular was in full flight but otherwise maintained control. However, Andrew Penn took the honours, his nine overs going for just 27 as he claimed four wickets.

However, the Auckland batting did make the bowlers look good. It is a match from which Wellington took the two points but neither team should take much satisfaction.