Cricket: Aces have a happy homecoming

By Kris Shannon

Cricket returned to the outer oval at Eden Park for the first time in four years today and, for Auckland, it was good to be back.

Long the home of Auckland cricket, Eden Park's No 2 has been out of action since the redevelopment to ready the stadium for the Rugby World Cup began in 2008.

The Aces have since been playing their home games at Colin Maiden Park in Glen Innes, but today they were back with a bang for the first day of their Plunket Shield match against Northern Districts.

After Auckland captain Gareth Hopkins won the toss and sent in the visitors, his decision was quickly vindicated as his side restricted the Knights to just 208 in their first innings. Auckland's openers then successfully negotiated 14 overs late in the afternoon to put the hosts in a strong position at stumps.

It could have been an even better day for Auckland were it not for ND opener Joseph Yovich. The veteran allrounder provided the defending champions' only resistance with a battling century to contribute more than half of the Knights' runs.

Yovich batted for five hours to bring up his fifth first class ton and save his side from potential embarrassment. Only four other batsmen made double figures, with James Marshall's 24 the next best effort, as Auckland carved through the batting order to snare all four bowling bonus points.

The chief destroyer for Auckland was former ND spinner Bruce Martin who picked up four wickets, while Michael Bates and Colin de Grandhomme chipped in with two each.

Tim McIntosh (14no) and Lou Vincent (25no) then capped the happy homecoming by seeing the Aces through to 40-0 loss at the close of play, leaving them 168 runs behind with their full complement of wickets in hand.

- APNZ

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