Michael Papps' golden summer continued but it wasn't enough to steer Wellington to a win in their Ford Trophy match against Auckland at Eden Park's Outer Oval today.
The 33-year-old Wellington opener scored 129 off 114 balls, his third century in five 50-over innings this season, to take his Ford Trophy tally to 539 runs at a staggering average of 134.75.
It's the sort of form that has had many plumping for Papps to earn an international recall but he was recently overlooked in favour of Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton in the test squad to face England and must wonder if his international career is over. He also scored 241 runs at 30.12 in Wellington's Twenty20 campaign and 810 runs in the Plunket Shield.
Papps' 539 runs is well ahead of the next best, Jamie How and Gareth Hopkins, on 284. How scored most of his runs in his extraordinary innings of 222 on Wednesday but Hopkins scored his second century of the campaign today with a well-compiled 142 off 120 balls to help Auckland to healthy 383-7.
Hopkins shared a 236-run second-wicket stand with Anaru Kitchen (131) which put Auckland in a powerful position after being put into bat by Wellington and Colin Munro chipped in with a valuable cameo of 38 off just 14 balls.
Jeetan Patel claimed four wickets for Wellington but they came at a cost (82 runs) - although no bowler escaped punishment with the short boundaries. There were 23 sixes and 59 fours in an entertaining days' play.
Papps found good support from Luke Ronchi (36), James Franklin (52) and Luke Woodcock (66 not out) in Wellington's chase of 384 for victory but the visitors lost wickets at crucial times.
The 18-run win was Auckland's fourth in five Ford Trophy games and they jumped to the top of the table ahead of Northern Districts who host Canterbury in Mt Maunganui tomorrow. Central Districts play Otago in New Plymouth in the other game tomorrow.