Cricket: Otago Volts secure draw with winning effort

Mark Craig
Mark Craig
There is something to be said for hanging on for a draw.

And that something was, well "huge" was how Otago coach Vaughn Johnson summed it up.

A draw certainly does not feel as good as a win but Johnson was upbeat about his side's effort on the last day of its Plunket Shield match against Northern Districts in Hamilton yesterday.

Set 440 to win, the best Otago could hope for was to grind out a draw and even that was going to take a big effort.

Former international Neil Broom provided the inspiration, anchoring the innings with a patient 146, and spinner Mark Craig played an important knock of 93 to help Otago reach 353 for eight at stumps.

It was Otago's third-equal highest fourth innings total and Broom and Craig combined in a record eighth-wicket partnership for Otago against Northern Districts.

They added 149, passing the previous mark of 129 set by Bert Sutcliffe and Tom Flaws in Hamilton in 1960-61.

"Going into the day we had not won a session since day two and were behind the eight ball," Johnson said.

"We talked about belief and the guys stood up and it was a huge effort to be able to bat out the day."

Craig was in sight of his maiden 100 before offering a catch to the close-in fieldsman Daniel Flynn. He did a tremendous job for his side.

"He played exactly the innings we needed from him," Johnson said.

Broom, though, was the rock.

The experienced right-hander had a lean season last summer but batted for almost six hours.

"It was a pretty special innings. This week has been pretty tough, so to be able to finish the week like that was just enormous."

A draw seem a remote possibility when Aaron Redmond (1) and Hamish Rutherford (0) were dismissed late on Tuesday, leaving the Volts teetering at 12 for two.

The nightwatchman Neil Wagner doubled his overnight total to 10 before he was undone, and Michael Bracewell (32) offered a catch a few overs later.

The Broom brothers, Darren and Neil, added 65 for the fifth-wicket. Darren was trapped lbw in the last over before lunch and Derek de Boorder perished by the same mode of dismissal shortly after the break.

Jimmy Neesham scored his maiden 100 in Otago's first innings and chipped in with 32 before he was bowled by the legspinner Ish Sodhi.

At 191 for seven, defeat appeared inevitable. But that is what is so marvellous about cricket. Just when the game seems predictable, it throws up the unexpected.

In six first-class games, Craig's previous best was just 28.

Northern would have expected to pick up his wicket quickly.

Broom was the far more obvious threat and went on to post his 11th first-class century.

• At Nelson Park in Napier, Central Districts achieved a four-wicket win against Auckland.

Chasing 146 for the win, Jeet Raval top-scored with 48 and Will Young chipped in with 36 to help the home overhaul the target.