Cricket: CD Stags finish on sorry note in last fling

By Anendra Singh

The scoreboard still had a grocery-bill look about it when the dust settled in the last round of the Ford Trophy competition for the Central Districts team in Christchurch last night.

The Devon Hotel-sponsored Stags had tweaked and, in what appeared to be a drastic measure, dropped veteran Mathew Sinclair, but the top-six in the batting order still had an anaemic look about it bar opener Jamie How.

It was a sorry ending to the limited-overs campaign and the domestic season for the men in green after the Canterbury Wizards thumped the visitors by 156 runs at Hagley Park, as the hosts clinched the second run of the playoff berth.

Just as they did in the HRV Cup Twenty/20 campaign, captain Kieran Noema-Barnett and his men were left licking the wooden spoon in the one-day competition.

No complaints about the weather this summer.

Yes, the penultimate round against the Wellington Firebirds was abandoned without a ball bowled because of the rain at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, but one has to argue did the one-day defending champions deserve a playoff berth?

If anything, the cricketing gods seemed to have wept at Pukekura Park out of sympathy in what can best be described as a mediocre season in the abbreviated version of the game.

In fact, the white-ball campaign has robbed the red-ball one of some of the gloss despite CD deservedly claiming the bragging rights to the four-day, first-class Plunket Shield.

It seems the Alan Hunt-coached Stags were clutching at straws going into the final round yesterday in search of a miracle.

None was forthcoming even though Noema-Barnett won the toss and had the hosts padding up for a 291-5 before CD were rolled for 135 in 28 overs.

"It wasn't a 291 wicket. We probably didn't give it a fair go," Hunt lamented, adding only Adam Milne showed some traction with 3-44.

Bracewell took 1-55 but Hunt said the aggressive Black Caps seamer bowled in patches.

"Dougie didn't bowl for two to three weeks so it showed," he said, adding five wides down leg side in his two wides was a testimony to that.

Asked if Bracewell was ready for the test against England in Auckland tomorrow, Hunt replied: "I think the three going for the Black Caps are doing a good job although I'm not sure what their mental or physical status is but it's a call best left for the New Zealand selectors to make."

In defence of CD, he said they were always going to throw the bat in chasing down a big total because the Stags needed a bonus-point win from 40 overs as well as for the Firebirds to lose.

Wellington beat Northern Districts by 106 runs to clinch third spot.

In Dunedin, top qualifiers Auckland Aces lost to fifth-placed Otago Volts by six wickets.

Auckland will give up home advantage for their minor preliminary final on Sunday due to a venue clash with the Black Caps test against England at Eden Park during the weekend and will play against Canterbury in Hamilton.

Hunt said he was still very proud of his men's achievements this summer despite dismal T20 and Ford Trophy campaigns.

Leg spinner Tarun Nethula was ruled yesterday morning after the camp discovered he had a stress fracture of the back.

"It was disappointing to find that out," Hunt said, after the CD camp expected him to be cleared of any serious injuries.

In the CD awards night on Sunday, Carl Cachopa won the player of the year and batsman of the year titles.

Nethula claimed the bowler of the year award and the most improved cricketer award went to debutant and former ND Knights seamer Andrew Mathieson.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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