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News

Northern win wider than it looked

To the casual onlooker the fact that Northern Districts won the State Shield one-day cricket title today with only 17 runs to spare might suggest that Auckland were just beaten in a game full of thrills and spills and the sparkling arts of one-day

Don Cameron
01-Feb-2003
To the casual onlooker the fact that Northern Districts won the State Shield one-day cricket title today with only 17 runs to spare might suggest that Auckland were just beaten in a game full of thrills and spills and the sparkling arts of one-day cricket handsomely displayed under a sunny Auckland sky.
In fact Auckland made some serious selectorial and tactical errors before the final started and during the time Northern Districts built their innings of 234 for seven wickets round a splendid 107-run second-wicket stand by the Marshall twins, James and Hamish. Then, from the moments when Auckland lost their first, second and third wickets by the time they had reached 18 in the seventh over Northern Districts had a foot on the Auckland throat and it was never really relaxed.
The first half of the Auckland innings meandered along as such a lugubrious pace that long before Aaron Barnes, Craig Pryor and Reece Young hit out at the end (in the Auckland total of 217 for seven wickets) the result of a Northern Districts win was never really in doubt.
Auckland reached the final with reasonably strong and deep batting, aggressive bowling led by Andre Adams, and quite superb deer-footed fielding and catching. Adams is now in South Africa, along with Kyle Mills and Lou Vincent, so the sharp edge of Auckland's out-cricket was blunted. The fielding which had been so often Auckland's strongest arm looked tired and unenthusiastic.
As replacements Auckland called in Mark Richardson after dropping him four games ago, and Mark Haslam, the slow left-armer who had not played for Auckland before this season, and who form and fitness were not as good as they have been.
Auckland already had Heath Davis and Llorne Howell who were not exactly light-footed fliers in the field, so the addition of Richardson and Haslam meant that Auckland could not hide them all in the outfield.
The absence of Adams and Mills meant that Auckland's bowling lacked its usual bite and variety, for Davis seemed to be favouring a game leg, and Tama Canning does not offer hasten the defensive stroke. They did remove Michael Parlane with surprising speed, but this brought the Marshall twins together for the one piece of genuinely good cricket the day produced.
James, the opener, was slow and solid at the start and Hamish took time to examine the bowling. He won that examination. Davis was quiet, Canning economical, Haslam out of form, Brooke Walker (two overs of long-hops and half-volleys) too expensive, and Pryor who at least distributed his wides on both sides of the stumps.
So the Marshalls realised they were on a winner, and picked up their scoring rate with glowing strokes to the fence and any number of expertly-taken singles with the ball only three or four metres from the bat.
As Northern Districts cruised from 29 when Parlane was out past 100 and toward 150 it seemed possible that the two twins who have such talent and promise would both deliver the goods and Auckland would be pressed to keep Northern under 300.
But even the Marshalls were human beings, and soon after James was bowled by a Canning delivery not tingling with menace, Hamish was undone by Matt Horne's modest medium-pace. Both Marshalls reached the 60's, and Northern trimmed their cloth with 250 or 230 becoming their aim.
To Auckland's dismay, Northern's aim was higher than Auckland could imitate. With the second ball of the second over Joseph Yovich persuaded Horne to direct a catch to point. With the fifth ball of Yovich's next over Richardson genially directed a flier into Robbie Hart's accommodating gloves. Howell, after 38 minutes living on a thread, was bowled by a stunning full-pitch ball from Ian Butler and took his single run back to the dressing room.
From that point (18 for three after seven overs) the game had ceased to be a competitive affair, and it became one of those hideous occasions - a match that would have only one result, but everyone would have to wait for 40 overs or so to meet the inevitable squelch.
Auckland were not helped by the fact that Canning spent so long in first gear, and put too much of the attacking onus on Barnes, Pryor and Young.
The Northern bowlers worked hard, even if the pint-point accuracy of the left-arm spinners Matthew Hart and Bruce Martin was in sharp contrast to the wayward seamers who provided no fewer than 20 wides to the Auckland total.
But Northern Districts, even with Scott Styris, Daniel Vettori and Daryl Tuffey away with the New Zealand side, still had enough class and youthful vim and vigour to outpoint Auckland's stolid senior citizens.