Worker blitzes 181, Central Districts make 401 in huge win

A round-up of the Ford Trophy matches on February 4, 2017, also featuring Luke Ronchi's return from injury

George Worker made 181 off 143 balls, and then took four wickets, Central Districts v Northern Districts, The Ford Trophy, Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, February 4, 2017

George Worker made 181 off 143 balls, and then took four wickets  •  Getty Images

Allrounder George Worker dazzled with bat and ball at picturesque Pukekura Park, smashing 181 off 143 balls to power Central Districts to 401 for 8 in 50 overs, before taking a career-best 4 for 36 to help skittle Northern Districts for 174. Having opened the batting, Worker treated the sprinkling of people watching from the sun-dappled terraced gardens to 19 fours and seven sixes, and Jesse Ryder and Will Young also made rapid 80s to take Central Districts to their third 400-plus total at the venue since December 2014. It was their fifth score in excess of 400 since March 2013. Central Districts were in with a chance of beating their highest List A score- 417, also against Northern Districts - but they slipped from 322 for 1 in the 43rd over and lost seven wickets for 70 runs.
Faced with an asking rate of eight per over from the start, Northern Distracts had a terrible beginning to the chase and slumped to 44 for 5 in the 13th over. There was no coming back from that and Worker claimed the last four wickets with his left-arm spinner to dismiss Northern Districts in 35.3 overs. Scott Kuggeleijn made 65 off 57 balls but Tim Seifert's 40 was Northern Districts' next best score. Ajaz Patel, another Central Districts left-arm spinner, took 3 for 61 in the 227-run victory, which earned a bonus point to lift them above bottom-placed Otago in the competition.
Luke Ronchi's return to competitive cricket after a groin injury was a happy one at Basin Reserve. He took four catches and struck a 39-ball 31 to help Wellington beat Otago with four wickets and 144 balls to spare, and top the Ford Trophy points table.
Ronchi had a lot of work put on his plate from 25-year old seamer Ian McPeake, three of his four wickets being batsmen nicking to the wicketkeeper. But it was Otago who were left grumbling as they crashed to 153 all out in 38.2 overs. Only two batsmen made it past the 20s, the opener GW Croudis and Christi Viljoen, the former Namibia fast bowler who was contracted to the side in June 2016. Ronchi's fourth dismissal helped offspinner Jeetan Patel finish with 3 for 23 in 7.2 overs.
Wellington's chase was a little more harried than they would have liked. They'd gunned down half their target in the 14th over but then lurched from 77 for 1 to 79 for 3 and then 131 for 3 to 147 for 6. But the target was so small it was always within range. Hamish Marshall top scored with 42, 38 of those coming in boundaries. Tom Blundell, who was released from the New Zealand squad playing the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy, fell for 28 off 34 balls.
Todd Astle made 48 off 42 balls in the middle order, and picked up 3 for 51 so Auckland's middle order did not enjoy a similarly fruitful day, and led Canterbury to a 25-run victory at Colin Maiden Park.
Astle's innings built on the good work from opener Chad Bowes, whose 57 was his first score over 20 in the season, and Henry Nicholls, who made 65 off 77 balls. Captain Andrew Ellis spent eight minutes at the crease to harvest 29 runs, with three fours and two sixes, to drive the total to 276 for 7.
Auckland's innings revolved around their captain Rob Nicol's 76, but with wickets falling around him - five in the last 10 overs with his dismissal starting the slide in the 42nd - they could only get to a score of 251 for 9 in their 50 overs. Astle took out Nicol, the No. 4, Robert O'Donnell, the No. 5, and Michael Barry, the No. 7, to ensure his team kept the upper hand throughout the innings. He was well supported by seamer Will Williams, who took 3 for 39 in his fifth List A game.