Auckland swatted away a spirited Wellington in the final, on their way to notching up a third successive Masters Championship in Queenstown over the weekend.
Wellington qualified for the final by beating Canterbury in the opening match and then easily accounting for last year’s finalists Northern in the afternoon match. Buoyed by a convincing win in both matches the capital side had reason to be optimistic of securing their first Masters title, especially when 2015 tournament MVP, Guy Coleman, succumbed to a calf injury in the opening match of the weekend.
Morning rain threatened to deny Wellington their chance for success, but when the weather cleared a full match took place in brilliant afternoon sun. Auckland skipper Richard Jones won the toss and elected to bat as they had done so effectively in the previous two matches.
The defending champs were purposeful from the outset and with Jones (36*), Darrin Crooks (46*) and Craig Pryor (37*) all surpassing the compulsory retirement score of 35, they quickly gained control of the final. Martin Pringle scored a brisk 36 in an commanding opening stand with Jones, and with the Wellington attack unable to contain the flow of runs an ominous total loomed – powering on to post a weekend high score of 182 for 2.
Wellington needed their key players to fire. Scott McHardy had made good contributions in the first two matches, but was clean bowled with the second ball of the innings. When Scott Davies bowled Chris Nevin the 3rd over and captured his third with the next ball the Wellingtonians were under real pressure. Much of the hope lay with Mayu Pasupati and Paul Hitchcock who combined in a partnership that brought Wellington right back into the match – but when Pasupati was dismissed just shy of the retirement mark, it was like an anchor had been applied to the scoring rate. Hitchcock retired on 36* but did not get the chance to return for one final flourish as the final wicket partnership between Ewen Chatfield and John Murtagh could not be broken. The innings ending with Wellington stranded at 115 for 8.
The weekend started with the normal activities and the welcome function on Friday. Graham Burnett, Barry Cooper, Martin Pringle (and Bill Fowler) were acknowledged for keeping their 100% masters attendance record intact for another year.
Day one of the tournament produced some closely fought matches, including an epic battle between last year’s finalists – Auckland and Northern. After smashing their way to 174 Auckland looked in full control with an over remaining and Northern requiring 28 for victory. Grant Robinson strode back to the crease following the fall of the 9th wicket, after retiring earlier on 35*. He then plundered 4, 6, 6, 4, 4, 6, as he took full toll of the short square boundary on ground number 3 – agonisingly close to snatching victory, but ultimately falling 2 runs short. Robinson’s knock of 65 *was the best all weekend, and this match one of the highlights.
The bowling performance of the weekend came from Central’s local ‘fill-in’ Kevin Laggenberg, who picked up a hat-trick with the last three balls of the innings against Otago – all of which were bowled. Then in the next match Central skipper Mark Greatbatch threw the ball to the young colt and he proceeded to snare another with his first ball – making it four in a row – all of which were bowled. Laggenberg performed well enough in CD’s two matches to secure the tournament’s CricHQ MVP award.
During the morning game on Saturday Mayu Pasupati did the unthinkable, remarkable even – a full length diving catch over his left shoulder, after sprinting for almost 25 metres (as it was described by those witnesses). This is the type of stuff legends are made of, and this effort is bound to go down in folklore as it is debated and recalled in future tournaments.
Summary of notable performances over the weekend:
Batting (retirement at end of over after scoring 35):
Masters tournament team 2016
Of course, the Masters Weekend is not just about cricket – the T20 tournament is central to the weekend, however it is the supporting activities and functions that bring generations of cricketers together – rekindling friendships from the past, and forming new connections for the future.
The weekend remains the pinnacle event for CPA past playing members and the feedback and success of this year’s tournament, and the entire weekend should provide a platform for ongoing growth in the future.
The weekend would not be as successful, or in fact possible, without the support of the Grassroots Trust and the six Major Associations.
Match scorecards are available on CricHQ.com.