Milestone men play big role in Saints championship-winning season

Matt Holstein and James Tapper have become the first St Albans pair to take 50 wickets in the...
Matt Holstein and James Tapper have become the first St Albans pair to take 50 wickets in the same season. Photo: Geoff Sloan
With only nine St Albans players ever taking 50 premier wickets in a season, Matt Holstein and James Tapper created club history when they became the first pair to achieve the milestone in the same season.

The pair achieved the feat during Saints’ nine-wicket win over East Christchurch Shirley last weekend.  And the top of the table win means Saints are 20.98 points clear at the top of the two-day trophy standings and have been crowned champions after the rest of the club season was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Right-arm quick Tapper was the first to bring up 50 wickets when he dismissed Ben Hanham leg-before-wicket.

Left-arm spinner Holstein then reached the milestone with the final wicket and his fourth of the innings when Easts’

Nathan McNichol was caught by Bailen Thatcher.

“Both those boys are having great seasons and have been holding the bowling attack together with support from a few other guys making cameos," said Saints captain Ben Langrope. 

"They have been very instrumental to our success, not just this year, but over a number of years."

It’s not the first time either player has taken 50 wickets in a season. In 2015/16, Tapper took 58 wickets in his first season with the club.

Meanwhile, Holstein – who has been with Saints for more than a decade – took 50 wickets last season. They are part of a very rare club. The first Saints player to accomplish the feat was Andrew Nuttall in 1980/81. The most prominent name on the list is former Black Caps spinner Mark Priest, who took 50 wickets in 1985/86.

“The coolest thing is to have Matty do it on the same day. He’s been a huge contributor for Saints over a long period,” said Tapper.

Holstein was the T20 competition’s top wicket-taker with 16 at an average of 8.69. He also took 11 wickets in the one-day competition and has taken 23 in the two-day trophy.

Tapper is the leading two-day wicket-taker with 33 at an average of 12.36. He also took 12 one-day wickets and five T20 wickets this season.

“We both have pretty similar philosophies in terms of being quite patient in our bowling approach," said Holstein. 

"When there’s patience at both ends it brings wickets."

The pair’s exploits to help the team claim the silverware meant a lot after Saints missed out in the one-day and T20 competitions earlier in the season.

“It was quite frustrating not to have won either the one-day or the twenty20 competitions because we put ourselves in really good positions there and lost semi-finals.

"This two-day competition had a little bit of extra meaning behind it,” said Holstein.

As for celebrating the feat, Holstein and Tapper say the celebrations were reserved on Saturday, but expect that to change now they have finished as champions.

“A few of the boys are getting on now, so the big nights are becoming few and far between,” said Tapper.

The leading wicket-taker in premier cricket this season is Burnside West University spinner Sam Carlaw, who has claimed 58 scalps.

Saints players to take 50 premier wickets in a single season: 1980/81 - Andrew Nuttall (54), 1981/82 - Les Watson (50), 1983/84 - Lyn Sparks (54), 1985/86 - Mark Priest (50), 1987/88 - Henry Richards (50), 1991/92 - Garfield Charles (56), 2006/07 - Michael Davidson (56), 2013/14 - Michael Davidson (58), 2015/16 - James Tapper (58), 2018/19 Matt Holstein (50), 2019/20 - James Tapper (50), 2019/20 - Matt Holstein (50).



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