Sometimes ... just sometimes you have to accept that the opposition are playing better cricket and you have to acknowledge that, if not accept it.
That's the line Central Districts Stags coach Heinrich Malan took last night after the Wellington Firebirds put the sword to the visitors in round eight of the top-of-the-table four-day Plunket Shield match at the Basin Reserve.
"Those two guys played pretty well and scored chance-less innings so we probably didn't bowl as well as we could have," said Malan after the Stags failed to capitalise on a promising start on Saturday from new-ball seamer Adam Milne who had the hosts in all sorts of trouble at 4 for 2 after the first three deliveries.
The two guys in question were Firebirds opener Luke Woodcock and debutant Malcolm Nofal who put on 247 runs in 72.5 overs for a defiant record sixth-wicket partnership which against all teams. The pair had on Saturday eclipsed the record of 226 runs that Evan Gray and Ross Ormiston had established in the summer of 1981-82.
That provided the platform for the Wellingtonians to add more than some respectability from 99-5 to 346-6 before the alliance was disbanded on a driveway track.
Wellington amassed 530 all out in 123.1 overs yesterday on an overnight score of 365-6.
Woodcock scored 147 runs from 283 balls in 394 minutes, including 20 boundaries and two sixes.
Nofal, in becoming the 14th player to score a ton on debut for the Firebirds, scored 179 runs from 245. The left hander occupied the crease for 331 minutes to carve up 13 fours and four sixes.
The former South Africa Under-19 representative also became the highest run scorer on debut for Wellington, wiping out the 163 Arnold Williams had carved up at first drop against Canterbury at Lancaster Park in 1896-97.
"You've sometimes got to praise the opposition when they've played some good cricket, which they did, and it also showed today when we had the opportunity to bat on a wicket that is obviously pretty good so it's pretty hard work once you get some established batters to dismiss them."
They had the William Young-captained CD 226-3 in 66 overs at stumps yesterday with Young, at first drop, and No 5 Tom Bruce to resuming their innings on 68 runs and 69, respectively, after No 4 Jesse Ryder added 69 to the collective cause.
With several Stags on international duties or injured Malan had injected emerging talent in CD A allrounder Willem Ludick and left-arm spinner Felix Murray, also of Nelson, a New Zealand under-19 representative to the age-group ICC World Cup here this year.
But it was with the ball that Ludick delivered first taking 102-4 from 26 overs, including three maidens, from his medium pacers.
Milne finished with 102-2 from 26 overs, including four maidens while Murray picked up 89-2 from 18 overs, including three maidens.
Part-timers Ryder and Bradley Schmulian claimed a scalp each.
"It's pleasing to see those boys given the opportunity to play in this game grab it with both hands," Malan said, revealing a few nerves eventually gave way to some confidence, especially to Ludick who picked up a wicket in just his second over.
Today, Malan said, was the moving day and had impressed on his new-look side that they had to go about their business in a smart way.
"We're sticking to the mantra of making sure that we're batting for four sessions to put ourselves in a position to be competitive," he said, satisfied the Stags had occupied the batting crease for two sessions yesterday.
"If we can bat until tea time and be brave to progress the game ... that'll be fantastic."