It was like watching blokes slip on their helmets, fasten their seatbelts before sliding into muscle cars on the driveway just to speed off to a dairy a block away from home.

Sun strike or wicket police didn't seem to bother them at McLean Park as the Central Districts Stags went on to claim an emphatic five-wicket victory over the Otago Volts in Napier on Thursday.

With the ambulance stationed nearby and highway project manager Phil Stoyanoff parked in a seat under the Harris Stand with groundsman and former Napier Technical CC premier men bowler Jeremy Kuru next to him, CD captain Tom Bruce and batsman Joshua Clarkson underwent what appeared to be concussion tests after balls had rattled their helmets.


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They were both cleared but No 6 Clarkson went on to hit two lusty sixes to put the table-topping Southerners out of their misery. CD had an over left in the tank as he finished 28 not out from 14 balls in helping amass 186.

"It [the ball] hit me on the chest first and then hit my grill so I was all sweet," said Clarkson, revealing the chat with coach Aldin Smith between the innings was about ensuring they were idling enough to find that grunt under the bonnet towards the home stretch — without spilling too much milk, as it were.

"Ideally you don't really want to take the game to the last over but, you know, it's good to know we can do that to teams so it's a good sign of things to come for us," said the Central Hawke's Bay CC premier men's cricketer whose first six in the penultimate over had disappeared over the Lowe Stand.

CD Stags Josh Clarkson clears his lungs after back-to-back lusty sixes to write Otago Volts' epitaph at McLean Park, Napier, on Thursday. Photo / Photosport
CD Stags Josh Clarkson clears his lungs after back-to-back lusty sixes to write Otago Volts' epitaph at McLean Park, Napier, on Thursday. Photo / Photosport

The digital Wasp, which had stung the Stags with a zero percent chance of winning at one stage, must have felt giddy as veteran all rounder Kieran Noema-Barnett put Otago to the sword. The worm had turned on his platform of hope.

Left hander Noema-Barnett scored 55 runs from 30 deliveries, including four boundaries and just as many sixes.

Willem Ludick, of Nelson, again did his holiday-making South African parents, Edwin and Sanette, as well as his fiancee, Lene Fourie, proud when he walked off unbeaten on 23 from a dozen deliveries, including a four and six each.

If anyone wanted evidence of fans wanting the pair to put the choker hold on Otago then CD batsman-in-waiting Ryan Watson showed it as he nervously gnawed away at his bat grip at the entrance to the changing room.

"That's how it all sort of played out for us — where we had a lot of solar power at the back end with Barney [Noema Barnett] and then Willem," said Clarkson, who lives in Napier.

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While not sure if Bruce would have elected to bat first had he won the toss, the 22-year-old said either way it demanded commitment in crunch-time situations — something they would have to emulate against the Auckland Aces in another televised double header at the Eden Park outer oval on Saturday.

"Every batter knows that hitting that sweet spot in the middle of the bat means it's going over the boundary ... so what happened today is obviously a good feeling," Clarkson said.
Otago opening batsman Hamish Rutherford laid down the foundation of 41 runs from 19 balls before a soft dismissal when he gloved the ball to Ajaz Patel at third man.

However, Nick Kelly, at first drop, top scored for the Volts with 45 runs from 24 balls, including three fours and sixes each, before Anaru Kitchen (26 runs), Josh Finnie (17) and Dale Phillips (25no) helped post 7-181 from their allotted 20 overs.

The total looked anaemic on a park renowned for even international batsmen resurrecting their flagging form but the Stags bowlers had performed remarkably well to reel in the visitors who were threatening to break the 200-run mark.

Game changer Kieran Noema-Barnett raises his bat for a half century as fellow CD batsman Joshua Clarkson ticks him over. Photo / Photosport
Game changer Kieran Noema-Barnett raises his bat for a half century as fellow CD batsman Joshua Clarkson ticks him over. Photo / Photosport

Noema-Barnett, who collected the game-changer award, also took 1-26 to become the most frugal of the CD attack with orthodox left-arm test spinner Patel not far behind at 6.75 runs an over, to finish for 2-27.

Opener Ben Wheeler also claimed two wickets on a tennis ball-bounce pitch that rendered bowlers road kill if they had strayed from the straight and narrow.

Clarkson saluted the bowlers for putting the Otago batsmen on a leash, mindful the Stags' batting line up was comfortable with the target.

Conversely, three Volts bowlers were hovering around the pass mark of five to six runs an over before all hell broke loose. While they claimed a wicket each — albeit at the high end of the market value — some of them will chastise themselves for a lack of discipline during the death overs.

For some odd reason, they had strayed from their "the faster you go the bigger the mess" edict, especially after Michael Rae started driving erratically to undo spinner Michael Rippon's stellar effort, including claiming the prized scalp of Noema-Barnett.

The pressure had told on the Volts. Broom, who had swept thoroughly including a well scrutinised catch to dismiss Christian Leopard for 19 runs, had a bout of whoopsy daisies as the dew had set in to trouble other adept fielders, such as Rutherford.

It didn't help their cause when the Jacob Duffy-captained outfit had bowled five wides — a sin in T20 cricket — and gifted nine leg byes when juxtaposed with CD's miserly offerings of two of each in the festive season.

On the other hand, the Stags worked with military precision on the field with Patel setting the tone.

CD wicketkeeper Dane Cleaver keeps Otago Volts' batsman Nick Kelly honest after a Kieran Noema-Barnett delivery at McLean Park, Napier, on Thursday. Photo / Photosport
CD wicketkeeper Dane Cleaver keeps Otago Volts' batsman Nick Kelly honest after a Kieran Noema-Barnett delivery at McLean Park, Napier, on Thursday. Photo / Photosport