Cricket: Heroic Vincent fires final shot at NZC

By Dylan Cleaver

Lou Vincent  celebrates after scoring a century yesterday. Photo / Getty Images
Lou Vincent celebrates after scoring a century yesterday. Photo / Getty Images

Lou Vincent has left the country a winner, swinging from the hip and the lip after his match-winning century for Auckland in the domestic one-day final yesterday.

Man of the match Vincent used the occasion to fire a broadside at New Zealand Cricket and selector Glenn Turner in particular, saying that he would have been keen to talk to somebody, anybody, about trying to represent his country had anyone at the national body shown any interest.

"I did have the dream of playing for New Zealand again, but nobody showed any interest. It's pretty disappointing, really," Vincent said.

Vincent returned to New Zealand to play as a local with the possibility of re-dedicating himself to the national cause. The lack of dialogue with the NZC made his decision to return home to the United Kingdom, where he has two daughters under 5, and try to qualify as a local there "pretty easy".

If he had any second thoughts, he said they eroded during the lunch break of yesterday's final.

"I was lining up for lunch and Glenn Turner was in the queue. I tried to initiate a conversation with him. Everyone was coming up and congratulating me and all he could manage was a quiet dig about me getting tired."

Vincent was out in the 47th over, having scored 153 from 152 balls in a beautifully paced innings.

"That summed up New Zealand cricket for me," Vincent said. "You bust your balls and are enjoying a proud moment and the national selector can't even manage a 'well batted'."

It was an emotional leaving message from a player who has had more cause than most to be disgruntled with selectors down the years. He was dumped in 2005 after scoring 92 in a test against Zimbabwe, which came just two tests after he compiled 224 against Sri Lanka.

He was brought back for one test against South Africa at Johannesburg in 2007.

In the interim he has battled both form and, more poignantly, depression, but he has looked back to his ebullient best this summer, compiling three centuries in the one-day competition.

"I'm really proud of myself and I'm not trying to sound arrogant," he said. "I've had an absolute crap three years but it's part of growing up and I'm really happy with where I've got to."

So are his teammates and paymasters at Auckland Cricket.

Vincent provided the fizz in what was the best match in the country this summer, but Auckland were forced to keep the champagne on ice until the last ball as Canterbury almost chased down 335.

Needing a six off the last ball to tie the game - a result that would have seen Canterbury crowned as champions - No 11 Richie Sherlock swung for the fences, but Chris Martin's delivery sailed through to keeper and captain Gareth Hopkins unmolested.

The six-run victory sees Auckland reign supreme as the kings of limited overs cricket after their win in the HRV Cup last month.

The victory was built upon the bat of Vincent. It was a mature innings from a man who has in the past often played with his heart and not his head.

Even teammate Andre Adams, not a big fan of this format, would have found plenty to keep him entertained, as Vincent's innings was complemented by telling cameos from Jeet Raval, Greg Todd, Colin de Grandhomme and Colin Munro.

He now returns to the United Kingdom, with his Auckland Cricket bosses not ruing a penny spent on the former international.

Vincent's score took him to 642 runs for the one-day season, motoring past previous aggregate leader Rob Nicol, who started the match on 529 runs.

For Canterbury to have any sort of a chance they were going to have to jump on the former Aucklander's back again. They did.

Nicol started at a brisk clip, racing to 50 off 42 balls, having smote three sixes. His second 50 was a little more sedate, his century came up in 99 balls, but after Dean Brownlie was dismissed for 60 after a 136-run partnership there was an onus on Nicol to last the distance.

On 119, shortly after he had re-passed Vincent for highest aggregate in this year's competition (648), he skied a leading edge off medium pacer Colin de Grandhomme that was easily taken by Anaru Kitchen.

It was a performance worthy of the series MVP and provided further ammunition for the many armchair selectors who remain baffled he was overlooked for a spot in New Zealand's 15-man World Cup squad.

For Canterbury skipper Peter Fulton the taste of defeat would have been especially bitter. On the last ball of the 48th over they believed they had De Grandhomme (26 off 10) caught in the deep. Instead they were no-balled for not having enough fielders in the circle. That cost them three runs then the replayed ball was hit for six, a nine-run error that eventually proved the difference.

If it does prove to be 32-year-old Vincent's last meaningful match in New Zealand, it wasn't a bad way to go out.

- NZ Herald

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