GPSS: Munro and Guptill shine for Aces

Some average bowling by the Northern Knights saw Auckland Aces batsmen Colin Munro and Martin Guptill run riot in Hamilton tonight.

Electing to bat first, the Auckland Aces set their Northern rivals a target of 192 that proved to be sufficient for a crucial win that sealed a place in the finals.

Colin Munro smashed the ball to all parts, scoring 82 after Martin Guptill had earlier set the Aces well on their way with an impressive knock of 63 in partnership.

A defiant knock of 39 by Anderson was entertaining for the crowd, but the Northern Knights fell well short of their target and were beaten easily by Auckland at a margin of 38 runs.

The full story:

The Knights batsmen were immediately under the pump in their chase, with a RRPO of nine runs per over at a time, and it claimed the early wicket of Anton Devcich and captain Daniel Flynn who both couldn’t make a decent dent in the runs deficit.

Three sixes in one over saw a sudden partnership between Corey Anderson and Irish import Kevin O’Brien burst past 50 runs. With the RRPO now over 10, the slight window of hope for the Knights rested on the two power hitters.

A brilliant catch in the outfield by Lockie Fergusson dismissed O’Brien, the Knights batsman who had looked most at ease.

A potential broken toe for Corey Anderson didn’t help the Knights struggle in a chase that was always looking out of reach, but the injury didn’t stop Anderson finding the other side of the fence to entertain the home crowd.

Martin Guptill, one of the few Blackcaps opting to play domestic cricket prior to the Sri Lankan tour, got the ball rolling early for the Aces earlier in the night.

Guptill struck three big sixes to get himself going before strategically working himself to his 26th First Class T20 half century with controlled aggression and hitting gaps in the field.

Guptill was eventually dismissed for 63 in one of the Blackcaps openers’ better performances in the Aces uniform.

Rob Nicol pitched in with his typical well-timed stroke play for 29.

Some woeful bowling allowed Colin Munro to find Seddon Parks’ embankment with ease. A lacklustre bowling style with no variation fed into the batting strength of Munro resulting in a huge leakage of runs.

Munro reached 50 quickly, his eighth in First Class T20 cricket, and by the time the Knights bowlers tightened their lines, Munro had bolted and was finding the fence on almost every ball faced.

Munro was eventually dismissed for 82 off 39 balls.

At a glance:

Auckland Aces 191/4 (Colin Munro 82, Martin Guptill 63)

Northern Knights 154 (Corey Anderson 39, Kevin O’Brien 23)

GPSS: Knights Bowlers Sink Wellington To NZ’s Lowest T20 Total

Superb bowling has seen the Knights cruise to a dominant victory over the Firebirds after the defending GPSS champions imploded and fell to New Zealand’s lowest total in T20 cricket chasing their target.

Ish Sodhi took three wickets in a dominant Knights bowling performance that had the Wellington batsmen heading back to the pavilion on regular occasion.

Anton Devcich was dominant with the bat, but Scott Kuggeleign and Ish Sodhi were big standouts with the ball, the two young Knights bowlers leaders taking five wickets between them.

Spinner Jono Boult also chipped in with the ball, snaring 2 wickets.

In one of his finest performances with the bat in T20 cricket, Anton Devcich batted with both aggression and poise on his way to 66-runs with the bat. At the beginning of his innings, Devcich played his typical style of hit out or get out, finding the boundaries on regular occasion.

When the run rate set, and with help from Dean Brownlie and Kevin O’Brien who both struck the ball crisply, Devcich was able to wait for the right deliveries.

Devcich notched his eighth domestic T20 half century on his way to 66, helping the Knights set the Firebirds a target of 185 in cold conditions.

The Firebirds ultimately never came close in their run chase, Devcich snared himself two wickets with his orthodox spin, and Scott Kuggeleign came within an inch of getting a hat trick after ripping through the Firebirds middle order in his second over.

But it was Ish Sodhi who starred for the Knights, taking three wickets to clean up the Firebirds lower order and hand his team a dominant 112-run victory.

The First Innings:

The Knights scored quick runs to start their innings, firstly through Daniel Flynn who hooked two shots for six. Anton Devcich continued to power on after Flynn was dismissed, finding the boundaries and the embankment with his typical hit out or get out approach.

Dean Brownlie followed suit, smashing two gigantic sixes off the spin bowling of Luke Woodcock, and the Knights were in a great position at 68/1 from their first seven overs.

Devcich and Brownlie batted their partnership past 50, giving the Knights the perfect platform to kick on in the last ten overs.

Jeeten Patel broke the partnership for the Firebirds, Brownlie departed for a well-rounded knock of 22. As the Knights brought up their century, Devcich was being troubled by Patel’s spin and was relieved when the spell came to an end.

Devcich brought up his eighth domestic T20 half century in the next over.

The Firebirds bowlers pulled the run rate back, forcing Irish import Kevin O’Brien to take risks and flirt with his own wicket, but it paid off with two big sixes in the space of an over.

O’Brien raced to 29 thanks to clearing the fence and finding the boundaries, Luke Woodcock again being the Firebirds bowler to leak runs. Woodcock ended his spell, going for a total of 51 runs.

O’Brien was slogging sixes with ease, forcing the Firebirds bowlers to bowl some erratic lines, including a shocking over by Brent Arnel that included three wide deliveries.

Devcich’s brilliant knock of 66 came to an end when he found the hands of the fielder on the ring, leaving Corey Anderson little over three overs to make an impact in his first match back since injury.

O’Brien’s aggressive knock was ended pre maturely when he also found the fielder as he looked to kick on.

The Knights ended their innings with a score of 184 for the loss of four wickets, Daryl Mitchell ending in style with a scoop six to leave the Firebirds a total of 185 to win.

The Second Innings:

The Firebirds run chase got off to the worst possible start when the Knights snared two early wickets; Anton Devcich continuing his good night when he managed to nab himself both wickets.

In all sorts of trouble at 11/2, the experienced pairing of Stephen Murdoch and Craig Cachopa needed to settle in and kick on. But they didn’t, Cachopa was deceived trying to cut the ball and found the thick edge, handing Scott Kuggeleijn a wicket.

Kuggeleijn struck on the very next delivery, clean bowling Tom Blundell, and very nearly got a hat trick, narrowly missing the stumps after bowling the near-perfect yorker.

Wellington required a further 170 runs to win, but were in deep trouble at 14/4.

Poor bowling from Aussie import Ben Laughlin saw the Firebirds put 21-runs on the board in one over, keeping the Firebirds within a sniff of forcing the issue through the middle of the innings.

Jono Boult saw the back of Murdoch, ripping the spin and rattling the stumps to give the Knights a crucial wicket just as the Firebirds comeback began to take shape.

Ish Sodhi took two wickets in a row, becoming the second Knights bowler to get on a hat trick, but like Kuggelign, couldn’t get the elusive third scalp. But the match was safe, Wellington were 62/8 and had no prayer of victory.

Sodhi took another wicket, his fourth of the night, and the game was over shortly after.

Key stories from the match:

  • Firebirds win toss and chose to bowl first.
  • Anton Devcich & Dean Brownlie partnership goes past 50.
  • Anton Devcich scores eighth domestic T20 half century.
  • Luke Woodcock goes for 51 runs in spell.
  • Anton Devcich and Kevin O’Brien partnership goes past 50.
  • Anton Devcich dismissed for 66.
  • Northern Knights finish of 154 from their 20 overs.
  • Firebirds lose 4 early wickets, Scott Kuggeleijn narrowly misses out on hat trick.
  • Anton Devcich takes 2 wickets.
  • Ben Laughlin goes for 21 runs in one over.
  • Ish Sodhi takes 4 wickets, narrowly misses out on hat trick.
  • Northern Knights win by 112 runs.

Much to be desired still with GP Super Smash

New Zealand Cricket has addressed some of the issues with its Twenty20 competition for this summer, but the Georgie Pie Super Smash still leaves a lot to be desired.

Credit: EventFinda

Beginning in November, the format of the Georgie Pie Super Smash sees roughly the same amount of games, but a much wider venue range than last summer including Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth for the first time.

Cobham Oval in Whangarei will also host a Northern Knights fixture.

Only one game per day will take place, except for the finals weekend at Yarrow Stadium, where three matches will take place in a rapid finals format much like last year.

17 of the 33 matches will be televised on Sky Sport, and times for games range from mid afternoon to evening.

But with the slight change to its flavour, the Georgie Pie Super Smash still hasn’t been altered enough to become a marketable tournament that will see larger crowds attend than last year.

Tickets for the grand final were being given away to generate interest last season.

With the Blackcaps playing a series in Australia that includes the inaugural day/night cricket test, New Zealand’s domestic competition is set to draw poor crowds again.

Only at the new venues will a large crowd go through the turnstiles so the likes of Yarrow Stadium and Cobham Oval, as well as The Mount will benefit, but average attendance should be expected at other venues.

Domestic sides haven’t revealed their big signings for the Super Smash, but with the Australian BBL starting shortly after, some big names could be secured for the right amount of money.

The Georgie Pie Super Smash begins on November 5th in New Plymouth.

Firebirds become champions in thrilling Super Smash final

The Wellington Firebirds have won the 2014 Georgie Pie Super Smash after just edging out the Auckland Aces this afternoon at Seddon Park.

Ford Trophy Final - Wellington v Northern

It was the best game of the competition without doubt, and in the process the Firebirds have booked a ticket to domestic crickets premier competition, the Champions League.

Being sent in to bat, Michael Pollard again proved why he is an opening batsmen to watch closely as he blazed a magnificent 76 to help the Firebirds to a total of 186. James Franklin was explosive with the bat, sending two balls out of the park as he reached 31, before Grant Elliot chipped in with an aggressive 40 in the dying overs of the Firebirds innings.

Chasing 187 to win, the Auckland Aces kept themselves within a chance right throughout the run chase.

Craig Cachopa played an aggressive and smart innings, getting to 37 before being dismissed.

But watching the game there was a sense that if Colin Munro was at the crease, the Aces were in with a chance to bring it home. Munro put in arguably he best innings in the Aces uniform, blazing multiple sixes out of the ground, but was cruelly caught out on the boundary line as he tried to keep up with the growing run rate.

In the end, the Aces fell 6 runs short and kept themselves in the game right up until the end.

Cachopa bats Auckland Aces into Super Smash finale

The Auckland Aces have booked a place in the Georgie Pie Super Smash grand final after easily beating the Northern Knights.

Twenty20 - Otago v Auckland

Valiant bowling efforts from Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner, and Scott Kuggeleign didn’t aid the Knights in their efforts to stop the Aces cruising to victory at Seddon Park this evening.

Aces batsmen Craig Cachopa forged a half century as together with Colin Munro.

The pair hit timely blows for fours and sixes which always kept the run chase in perfect comfort, sending the Knights packing from the Georgie Pie Super Smash competition.

Cachopa went on to put in his best innings of the Super Smash, finishing unbeaten on 67.

In the end the Aces chased down the 141 run total with ease, and it all began when the Knights batting let them down again.

A hat trick to Michael Bates highlighted some top notch bowling by the Aces after the Knights had gotten off to a flyer early in the first innings.

It was second straight collapse in back-to-back playoff matches for the Knights after earlier in the innings Kevin O’Brien had smashed 52 runs off just 25 balls in one of the best innings seen in the Super Smash tournament.

The record-holding Irish import gave the Knights the best platform to what should have been an imposing total.

Problems arose for the Knights as the middle order again failed to bring the innings home. Daryl Mitchell struggled to get going with the bat and after he was bowled by Michael Bates, the lower order crumbled suddenly.

The last five overs in the Knights inning saw an RR of a run per ball for the Knights.

Unable to take advantage of the solid start, the Knights sunk to being bowled out in the last over for just 140 runs.

Firebirds smash Knights to advance to Super Smash final

The Wellington Firebirds have booked a place in Sunday’s Georgie Pie Super Smash final after easily beating the Knights in Hamilton tonight.

Bowler-friendly conditions aided the Firebirds bowlers to restrict the Knights to just 124 in an innings which saw not a single six hit mixed within some fairly questionable decisions by the Knights batsmen along the way.

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Two poor decisions which led to Knights wickets stand out from tonights preliminary final.

Opening batsmen Brad Wilson attempted to charge down the crease to hit Jeetan Patel out of the park, instead he clean missed the ball and was easy picking for the stumping by Firebirds keeper Michael Papps.

Not only was it a poor out for a batsmen of his calibre, but a poor decision given how early it was in the innings.

The problems out in the middle continued when Travis Birt was run out for just 2 runs after he failed to get back into his crease in what was a questionable choice for a second run in the first place.

Knights captain Daniel Flynn couldn’t continue his fine Georgie Pie Super Smash form, holding out in the field for 19.

But for a valiant fighting partnership between all rounders Daryl Mitchell and Scott Kuggeleijn at the close of the innings, the Knights would have pushed the record for one of their lowest ever totals in Twenty20 cricket.

Mitchell was the top scorer for the Knights, ending on a highly respectable 36 runs.

In the run chase, the Firebirds got off to a rocketing start unlike their fellow North Island rivals.

Reaching 50 runs in the first 6 overs, Michael Papps batted the Knights out of the fight early in the run chase after Papps carted Scott Kuggeleijn around Seddon Park for a massive over somewhere in the region of 20 runs plus.

Various miss-fields didn’t help the cause, and with ten overs remaining in the match, the Firebirds were cruising to what would be one of their easiest victories of the competition. Stephen Murdoch joined Papps to forge a partnership of over 50 runs, batting the Knights out of the game easily.

Papps powered to a half century, and helped the Firebirds to secure the match well in hand with plenty of overs to spare.

Trying to smash Kuggeleijn for a second over in successive spells, Papps hit the ball straight to Daniel Flynn to be dismissed for a match-winning knock of 65.

But the damage was done, and the Firebirds went onto win with a gallop leaving 8 wickets left in the shed.

The Georgie Pie Super Smash is not yet over for the Northern Knights however, though morale will be low after the performance on the park tonight.

The Knights were average, their loss was comprehensive, and it was easily the worst performance of the season thus far.

Tomorrow the Knights will play Auckland in a sudden death playoff game which if they win, will qualify for the Grand Final on Sunday against the team they lost to tonight, the Wellington Firebirds.

Northern Knights relatively comfortable in Georgie Pie lead

The SkyCity Northern Knights are sitting pretty at the top of the Georgie Pie Super Smash table as the competition rolls forward around the country.

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After the first couple of weekends in Hamilton, the Knights have kept their position as the best team in the competition with wins against Canterbury and Auckland, and will look to keep the momentum with a victory over the Volts on Sunday afternoon in Wellington.

A victory against the Volts on Sunday would make a finals appearance that little bit more possible.

The Knights have another 3 games to play in the Georgie Pie Super Smash, Sunday against the Volts before a matchup in Napier against the Central Stags on November 29th and then the Auckland Aces the next day.

Both the Kings and Aces who sit second and third on the table respectively remain the biggest points of interest for the Knights.

The Knights have the advantage of a game less to play in the Georgie Pie Super Smash, while both the Kings and the Aces are set to play another 4 games before the finals weekend in Hamilton.

With three games remaining in their season, the Wellington Firebirds now need to win all their games to be a viable contender for the finals.

The chances of the Central Stags and Otago Volts are all but dashed.

The Knights will be without the services of Daniel Vettori and Anton Devcich this weekend however as both players are away with New Zealand A.

Knights silence sell out Kings crowd to continue winning ways

The Northern Knights have continued their rich form after beating the Canterbury Kings this afternoon.

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Played down at the newly ICC approved Hagley Oval in Christchurch this afternoon, Kings fans were left disappointed as the sell out crowd failed to stop the Knights from getting the victory away from home.

A brilliant opening stand of 116 between Daniel Flynn and Anton Devcich set the Knights up for a big total, with healthy additions by Daryl Mitchell (22) and Daniel Vettori (21) later in the innings, setting the Kings up for a 185-run chase to seal the victory at home.

But victory never came for the Kings.

A solid 44 by Ronnie Hira got Canterbury off to a good start, but the Kings began to fall away after the first wicket fell.

When Kings linch pin Aiden Blizzard retired hurt, a valiant innings of 33 by captain Peter Fulton was not enough as the Knights bowlers ripped through the Kings batting order, bowling them out with a couple of balls to spare and 20 runs short.

Scott Kuggeleijn finished with figures of 4/40 from his spell, and was the pick of the Knights bowlers.

The win puts the Northern Knights on top of the Georgie Pie Super Smash table.

International Twenty20 Cricket should remain a special rarity

It doesn’t seem like too long ago that Twenty20 Cricket was just a rare party like concept of our summer game.

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This is not the case now.

Back in 2005 when the Blackcaps played Australia at Eden Park in the first ever Twenty20 international, the concept of the game was short, fast, and entertaining.

It was a new idea, and even more importantly, only something that happened once or twice a season, and it was a terrific success.

Now days there are Twenty20 Cricket World Cups, domestic Twenty20 leagues including the IPL and Champions League which take place on a yearly basis, and everywhere you look Twenty20 forms of cricket are becoming much more frequent.

Money is big in T20 cricket, as is corruption.

It could be argued that Twenty20 cricket has opened the door for for some of the minor associate nations as well, giving players in that under developed cricket countries an opportunity to be picked up by big IPL or BBL teams and given the opportunity to perform on the world stage.

There is also much more Twenty20 specific talent being looked for by cricket scouts and selectors the world over.

We sat next to Lance Cairns during the opening weekend of Georgie Pie Super Smash while he was scouting for NZ Cricket.

Twenty20 would have seemed a laughable concept of the game back in his hay day.

In Australia and England in particular, the international side for Twenty20 cricket seems to be its own operating enterprise as you often see specific coaches and specific players who get selected only for the handful of Twenty20 games that Australia play throughout their home summer each season.

The current series against South Africa was a good example of this.

Players that some cricket fans who tuned into Nine’s Wide World Of Sport cricket coverage wouldn’t have ever heard of before.

In Australia’s case in most Twenty20 internationals, only a handful of players who are regular ODI starters feature in the T20 side, and hardly ever does a test cricketer make an appearance these days accept for the recent case of Shane Watson. To kick off this summer, Aaron Finch captained the team, while Wellington Firebirds’ big signing Brad Hodge suddenly left the Georgie Pie Super Smash to become the batting coach for Australia’s Twenty20 unit.

When did you last see Mitchell Johnson play T20 cricket for Australia apart from in a World Cup?

But this exciting but not so much new form of the game has given certain big time players a foot in to international cricket early in their careers. It was only a few years ago that David Warner stormed onto the scene in T20, now days he is a regular test starter for Australia.

Otago Volts regular Ryan ten Doeschate is a good example of a cricketer who applies his trade all over the world and almost exclusively in the T20 form of the game.

Or how about a player like Quinton de Kock, a batsmen who can seemingly perform at both ODI and T20 level with decent results.

To a Martin Guptill, who showed just this past couple of weekends during the Georgie Pie Super Smash that T20 cricket can allow him to break the shackles and play what is clearly his natural game, leading to back to back scores past 50, including an unbeaten 84 against Otago, at a time where negative faithless Blackcaps fans were calling for his dismissal from the international level all together.

In many ways it is a shame that the concept of Twenty20 cricket has changed to a more standard business like form of the game compared to what it was back in 2005 and 2006.

Back then Twenty20 used to feel like cricket’s special event, something to bring a different audience than the traditionalists, and something that sides would do special things for to mark the occasion – the Blackcaps a good example of this when they wore the classic Beige uniforms and then later on some of the classic old school shirts from the early to mid 90’s era to mark these special Twenty20 occasions.

Twenty20 is more constant, and in a little ways not quite as impacting on the younger generation of fans especially that it once was. It is just another form of the game now, and some already believe that cricket needs a little bit of a change up or something big and new to garner more interest.

The latest experiment is the day/night test matches, trailed in the First Class scene in Australia this week.

Twenty20 is here to stay however, and this blog understands that buyers are rumored to be setting their sights on NZ Domestic Cricket associations.

The hope is to turn the domestic T20 game on these shores into an IPL/Big Bash like concept with big money behind it.

Knights beat Central to equal top of the Georgie Pie ladder

The Northern Knights have bounced back after a disappointing result last match to comfortably beat the Central Stags by 25 runs in front of a strong crowd at Seddon Park in Hamilton.

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Ending with a total of 166, it was the highest score so far in the Georgie Pie Super Smash for the Knights who elected to bat first on a two paced deck which was predicted to turn late in the weekend.

Travis Birt proved why he is arguably the Knights’ most valuable re-signing this season, smashing a solid 68 while being the aggressive anchor for the batting effort throughout the innings after finding himself at the crease early.

Birt was helped by Dean Brownlie who put in one of his best innings yet in Knights colors.

The former Cantab batsmen got to 35 before being caught and bowled by Stags spinner Ajaz Patal.

There has been much talk about the Knights failing to capitalize on the opportunities for big scores with the bat so far in this campaign, but Daryl Mitchell helped Birt work the Knights to their tournament best 166 total, a score that was looking like a long lost hope at the halfway point in the innings as the Knights began to slump.

Mitchell kept his wicket secure, finishing with a very respectable 35.

But the strike rate was the more telling factor, 140 and Mitchell’s best in the Georgie Pie Super Smash thus far.

The Central Stags run chase looked unlikely from the get go, Mitchell Satner and Scott Kuggeleijn keeping the overs tight early on.

The Knights went with four spinners in the game with the turning pitch.

Satner, in his first outing in the Georgie Pie Super Smash, nabbed the wicket of George Worker, before Aussie import Ben Laughlin broke the hugely important Stags pairing of Jamie How and Kieran Noema-Barnett when Barnett held out in the field to Kuggeleijn to have the Stags sitting at 61/3 after 10 overs.

The final nail was put into the Central Stags coffin when captain Jamie How was dismissed by Ben Laughlin for a valiant 29.

Despite a defiant 34 by Stags wicketkeeper Kruger Van Wyk late in the innings, the Stags were never going to win.

The win sees the Knights in a strong position on the Georgie Pie Super Smash ladder, though there is still a lot of cricket remaining, including the sell out crowd waiting for the Knights down in Canterbury on Thursday afternoon.

The result also saw the strongest crowd attendance for the Super Smash so far.