Cricket: Stags claim first win of season

By Anendra Singh

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Central District Stags are claiming their first victory in any format in the summer of 2013-14 cricket. Photo/Paul Taylor
Central District Stags are claiming their first victory in any format in the summer of 2013-14 cricket. Photo/Paul Taylor

It should have been elementary but it turned out to be a dawdle at McLean Park, Napier.

Not that it mattered to Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags, because for them a hairy three-wicket win was just that - a win in any shape or form.

The tense finish late Saturday morning was gob-smackingly the first this summer for the Heinrich Malan-coached CD, who finished last in the HRV Cup for the past two consecutive seasons.

The victory came two days and a couple of hours later in the sixth round of the four-day Plunket Shield match against the North Districts Knights in the battle of the bottom dwellers.

Ironically, last summer's unwanted two title-winning coach, Alan Hunt, was at the venue as New Zealand Cricket talent scout.

Befittingly, CD skipper Kieran Noema-Barnett, 28 not out at No 7, and No. 9 Kruger van Wyk saw the hosts cross the mental divide.

"It's the first one for us for a while following a lean trot.

"We did make it a little tough on ourselves but, you're right, a win is a win," said Noema-Barnett, revealing the biggest pressure was in their inability to plant a tick in the W column.

He gave ND bowlers some credit but also accepted CD were battling a bout of jangled nerves.

"It's always tough to put a finger on it because cricket's a funny game so anything can happen and it nearly did today."

It was never going to be a case of whether the Stags were going to get enough runs but simply a situation of batting well over a session.

"We managed to get there eventually by getting a little aggressive in the end," he said after heaving a lusty six and Van Wyk's two consecutive boundaries.

Noema-Barnett said it was not only a first for Malan in his maiden CD season but also some of the boys.

"We did play pretty well throughout this game so we've got some form but we have to make sure we front up again on Thursday with a similar sort of intensity," he said the Stags host the Wellington Firebirds in the next round of the shield at the same venue, although inclement weather is forecast.

The Taradale CC player didn't think it was a bad wicket but one they had to apply themselves on.

Malan said CD hadn't done anything different in terms of preparation.

"We fought really hard, even through the HRV Cup campaign."

The South African said the Stags always spoke about getting over the line, although the only uncertainty was when.

"It's great to eventually get there so it's nice to have a cold one on the right side of things."

Getting close a few times this summer, he said it was a given some nerves were flying around but the two journeymen in the side, Noema-Barnett and Van Wyk, delivered.

"Especially Krugs - cometh the hour, cometh the man - when we're five or six down," he said of the wicketkeeper who got out of bed on Saturday to find he had back spasms that inhibited his batting.

"It's the character of the man, isn't it? He's in the dungeon, always fighting for the team so that's really fantastic.

"It was great to have him out there with the captain who has struggled this year but things will turn from here," Malan said.

While CD hadn't done well this summer, players such as unwanted Black Caps all-rounder Doug Bracewell had shown character and they would come back stronger and better.

"Dougie's shown us what he's about and is leading our attack beautifully so, hopefully, he'll be back by all accounts in the test side." (Page 23)

Paceman Graeme Aldridge picked up on Saturday what Scott Kuggeleijn had started before stumps on Friday night with three wickets.

Aldridge trapped William Young lbw for three before enticing Greg Hay into a false shot for a duck.

The seamer heightened the tension when he caught opener Ben Smith again lbw before removing Bracewell for a duck to sit on a hattrick to finish with 4-20 from nine overs.

ND coach James Pamment expected a gritty fight from CD, not expecting to win a game from a side chasing a paltry 70.

Pamment said the scores in both digs reflected a "spicy wicket" that assisted bowlers all the way.

"We certainly analysed our batsmen's role so perhaps we weren't as accurate with our execution of the skills as we needed to be," he said, adding it was his first visit to the international venue.

It appeared as if CD took a punt with two bottom teams needing a win and perhaps it paid off for them, Pamment suspected.

With only four experiencedn players, he expected the likes of BJ Watling, captain Daniel Flynn and Brad Wilson to create an environment for younger players to bat around them.

The quality of Bracewell and the bowling of Ben Wheeler and Bevan Small would have benefited the ND young immensely.

He didn't think the HRV Cup Twenty20 champions were still stuck in the shorter format mindset.

Sitting on the bottom of the table after three shield losses in a row, Pamment said the only way up was hard work.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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