International cricket at Bay Oval

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian

The Bay Oval lights will be turned on for international cricket for the first time this season on Friday night.

India A and New Zealand A continue their series of matches that began at the Oval before moving to Hamilton and Whangarei.

There were plenty of runs scored in the three four-day, first class fixtures which all finished with drawn results.

From a New Zealand perspective, the matches give players on the fringe of Black Caps selection an international test of their abilities and enable players returning from injury to get competition against quality opposition.

The games also allow former Black Caps who have slipped out a favour a chance to impress the national selectors.

Three New Zealand A batsmen scored centuries against India A to push for selection for the Black Caps.

Former test opener from Otago Hamish Rutherford scored 114 off 181 balls at Bay Oval, Central Stags’ Will Young battled for a marathon 449 minutes in scoring 123 in Hamilton, while Canterbury’s Cam Fletcher reached 103 in Whangarei.

Attention now turns to the three one-day games at the Bay Oval on Friday Sunday and Tuesday. All games start at 2pm with free entry for spectators.

Cricket these days is a bit like fashion with trends coming and going.

A decade ago, some cricket critics were predicting the demise of test cricket at the expense of the Twenty 20 game. What we have seen is that the Twenty 20 smash and bash has changed how players approach one-day and test cricket forever by encouraging all-out attack through a range of traditional and unorthodox shots.

As the novelty of the Twenty 20 game has worn off, each form of the game has attracted its own audience. Test cricket will remain the domain of the traditionalists who enjoy the cut and thrust of bat verses ball over five days. While some would say that test cricket is boring, test cricket viewers revel in the opportunity to enjoy the game at their leisure.

Twenty 20 has attracted a new group of cricket fans who like to watch a game that is done and dusted in around three hours.

I prefer the one-day fixtures where each side has 50 overs to craft their innings. Unlike Twenty 20, where several quick wickets at the top of the order can end a side’s chances, 50 overs offer a shot at redemption.

There was no better example of a one-day team getting out of jail than last Saturday’s Ford Trophy title decider between the Otago Volts and Wellington Firebirds at the picturesque University Oval in Dunedin.

Otago were in trouble from the start of their turn at bat and at 57-7 were in deep strife. However, Michael Rippon (82) batting at seven and Christi Viljoen (87no) at nine got the Otago Volts through to 234-8.

It is interesting to note that the two Otago big hitters are cricket gypsies. Both are South African born, with Rippon having represented the Netherlands in ODI cricket and Viljoen Namibia.

The Ford Trophy final turned into a genuine thriller with the Firebirds getting home with three wickets to spare after they battled back from a top order collapse at 75/5.


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