Grammar Edges King's in Low Scoring Encounter

King’s College v Auckland Grammar School – 1 and 8 November

•    Auckland Grammar School 131 all out (79.1 overs) and 75 for 2 (32 overs)
•    King’s College 126 all out (54.2 overs)

The distinctly green tinge to the wicket prompted King’s College to bowl, on winning the toss. Runs were hard to come by and the bowlers were clearly on top for most of the match.  Toby Baker and Scott Johnston sent back both opening batsmen by the sixth over with just 7 runs on the board (including 2 wides). Scott Johnston especially, bowling from the Normanby Road end, was virtually unplayable, getting disconcerting bounce from fullish deliveries.

Oscar Shepperson relished bowling on this track and in his first spell bowled tidily to pick up 2 wickets. He got into good rhythm and enjoyed an impressive spell of pace bowling which rekindled memories of his exploits of the previous season. William St John went wicketless in his first spell but helped in maintaining the stranglehold that the bowlers had over the batsmen. The very slow outfield added to the woes of the batting team who had 60 runs for the loss of 4 wickets in 28 overs when lunch was taken.

The painstakingly slow run rate continued as Grammar seemed intent on crease occupancy, thereby using up as many overs as possible to remove the option of an outright victory. They were all out for 131 in the 80th over, leaving King’s 13 overs in which to bat till close of play. Grammar was lucky to reach this score and were aided by three dropped catches – Hamish McLean and Cameron Whiting being the unfortunate bowlers. William St John picked up three tailend wickets in his second spell.

The King’s openers were given a torrid time by the Grammar bowlers, especially Henry King, who was threatening to rip through the visitors batting with an impressive spell of pace and swing. King’s spluttered along to 24 runs by the end of day one, having lost both openers – Callum Douglas out to an unplayable snorter from Henry King and Hamish McLean’s valiant vigil was undone by a moment of indiscretion.

Amidst the carnage of the late afternoon Mitchell Murray, who came in rather early (5th over), rode his luck and the plucky William St John took the team to 24 for 2 (13 overs) by the time stumps was drawn for the day.

A week later, on a bright, breezy and chilly morning (on an even slower outfield that was overdue for a cut), the overnight pair resumed batting and were going along comfortably taking the third wicket partnership to 38 before the tenacious William St John was beaten by Jack Diamond who was later to become the home team’s hero. Mitchell Murray and Charles Bevin were marching along at a decent clip when Jack Diamond struck again from his favoured pavilion end, beating the latter with a sharp leg-cutter (74 for 4).

No panic yet – 58 runs required and plenty of batting to come. Mitchell Nash missed out on a valuable opportunity to showcase his ability to grind out an innings when he lasted a mere 7 balls (76 for 5) – still no panic. Four over later, 3 balls till the safety of lunch, Mitchell Murray on 40, having already survived a let-off, climbed into a short one from Luke Guilford but was caught on the square-leg boundary – 48 runs required, 4 wickets remaining – mild panic!

After lunch, the normally calm Oliver Williamson nicked to the keeper and also missed out an opportunity to take the team home. Fergus Salmon contributed a valuable 17 runs and looked like he would be the saviour but did not show sufficient resolve when it really mattered. Scott Johnston looked more comfortable out in the middle in comparison to the three previous batsmen and survived for 24 balls but just when it seemed the tide had turned, was undone by a Jack Diamond ripper that cut in and clattered into the stumps.

Last man in was Cameron Whiting and if only he could hold up one end, Toby Baker was good enough to script a victory. Cameron Whiting cleverly rotated the strike when he could and watched Toby Baker blaze away at the other end but some cunning bowling by Diamond ensured that with wide deliveries, no more runs were scored. This meant that Cameron Whiting had to face a full over from Henry King – no contest! Cameron Whiting was bowled off Henry’s second ball to huge ovation and relief from the home team and supporters. A long awaited victory had finally arrived as Grammar sensed that there was too little time left in the day for an outright result and was more than happy with first innings points.

The home team was surprised when they were asked to bat a second time but with less than three hours left in the day, they batted comfortably and without risk (75 for 2 after 32 overs) when the match was called off. 

C Douglas                 0                     H McLean           5
M Murray                 40                    W St John          13
C Bevin                    10                    M Nash              2
O Williamson             3                     F Salmon           17
S Johnston                5                     T Baker             10 not out
C Whiting                  2    

First Innings
S Johnston               16-3-33-2          T Baker           12-2-21-1    
O Shepperson           11-3-22-2         W St John         9.1-3-14-3
C Whiting                 2-0-8-0             H McLean         17-8-19-1
M Murray                  6-1-6-0            C Bevin             6-2-7-0        

Second Innings
S Johnston            8-0-16-1              T Baker             6-1-17-0    
C Whiting              6-3-8-1                W St John         5-1-14-0
H McLean              4.5-2-10-0           C Bevin             2-0-5-0