Cricket: Leon MacDonald stars for Marlborough

Leon MacDonald in action for the Crusaders in 2009. Photo / Getty Images
Leon MacDonald in action for the Crusaders in 2009. Photo / Getty Images

Three men with a shared past from last century have reunited to help Marlborough lift cricket's Hawke Cup off Otago Country.

Former All Blacks rugby fullback Leon MacDonald, one-time New Zealand fast bowler Carl Bulfin and Greg Stretch, who is not so well known on the national stage, all featured in Marlborough's overwhelming victory by an innings and 171 runs at Alexandra yesterday.

MacDonald hit 85 in his team's only innings of 472 while Bulfin took two cheap wickets as Otago Country surrendered for 83 before managing 218 in their second innings.

It marked the first time Marlborough have won the Hawke Cup in 17 years. The symbol of New Zealand minor association cricket last resided in Blenheim in 1994 when MacDonald, Bulfin and Stretch were integral members of the team.

Yesterday's result resonated with all the team members, particularly wicketkeeper-batsman Stretch, who has played 185 games for his province and is the chairman of the Marlborough Cricket Association,

"To a lot of the players here, this is our test match and to win is great but to win so convincingly is pretty special. To be part of it once is great, but to be part of it twice is something we'll never forget," he told the Marlborough Express newspaper.

Special heroes for Marlborough were Central Districts allrounder Brendon Diamanti and his first-class teammate Ben Wheeler, both of whom ended the match with seven wickets.

It was Diamanti who destroyed Otago Country's first innings with the outstanding return of five for eight off 16 overs.

Marlborough defend the Hawke Cup against zone two winners Hawke's Bay in Blenheim on February 25-27.


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