Plunket Shield cricket things have begun and while some bloke named Henry Nicholls managed to crack a century against a Blackcaps bowling attack, the Domestic Cricket Daily funk sits with Cole McConchie. Against Northern Districts Knights, Canterbury's skipper hit 107, which was a smidge better than Nicholls' 103. This also came with a higher strike-rate as McConchie hit 14 fours and a six for 70.39sr, while Nicholls' 10 fours saw him finish with 52.28sr. Canterbury finished day tahi on 327/8.
Any pleb would expect Nicholls, or Tom Latham to be the Cantabrians who could score runs against a bowling attacking featuring Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner and T20I Blackcap Daryl Mitchell. McConchie however went big-dawg mode and hit his fourth First Class century, now flowing in a nifty patch of Plunket Shield batting form.
Last summer finished with McConchie hitting scores of 32, 24, 162, 37*, 35 and 1*. No certified failures in there, other than settling in and being dismissed in that niggly 20-40 run range that pisses everyone off. Steady runs nonetheless and it looks more impressive when you add a score of 107 to the end of it, giving McConchie two centuries in his last four games of Plunket Shield cricket. While he only hit one century last summer, McConchie averaged 42.75 through six games via those not-outs and those mid-sized scores and his 162 was the 3rd-highest score of the season - the other two were 200+.
McConchie's boundaries showed him pulling Neil Wagner reasonably comfortably and while we don't know if Wagner roughed him up between, the boundaries McConchie did hit against Wager predominantly came down the leg-side. On what appeared to be rather green wicket at Hagley Oval, there were edges past the slips etc, but in assessing a batsmen, I'm always interested in the range of shots on display and the confidence to execute those shots. Not only did McConchie score of Wagner's short balls, he pounced on over-pitched stuff from Southee and Boult, while also sweeping and cutting Sodhi when he dropped short.
McConchie hit boundaries off all the Blackcaps bowlers except for Mitchell Santner, here are some examples…
Moving forward, McConchie is likely to play a role in supporting leg-spinner Todd Astle with his own offies. Canterbury have Theo van Woerkom as 12th-man, while Blake Coburn isn't in the squad and this could be partly due to McConchie's spin abilities; under-appreciated averaging 28.78 in FC cricket.
As for the bowlers, Logan van Beek's 4 wickets @ 2.69rpo in 16 overs tickled my toes the most. The Wellington Firebird's seamer sent Dale Phillips, Neil Broom, Dean Foxcroft and Mitch Renwick back to the sheds, grabbing the outside edges of Phillips and Broom before extracting errors from Foxcroft and Renwick in playing short-balls. This effort helped Wellington dismiss Otago for 199, with lefty-tweaker Malcolm Nofal chiming in with 3w @ 1.80rpo to wrap up the tail.
Van Beek only played three games of Plunket Shield cricket last summer, taking 4w @ 64.25avg in what was a dip between a fabulous campaign in 2017/18 and solid Kiwi County Tour stuff for Derbyshire this winter. The 2017/18 summer saw van Beek take 40w in seven games, averaging 14.47/3rpo and this was slightly better than Hamish Bennett's 38w @ 15.39avg. This year, van Beek played nine games for Derbyshire and took 19w @ 38.21/3.31rpo which isn't amazing, although this is a very solid effort for someone adjusting to the rigours of County cricket.
It ain't like there were heaps of kiwis on the Kiwi County Tour this summer, which is why I praise van Beek for that effort because he still put up decent numbers in a foreign environment. One would imagine that this would put van Beek in a nice position returning to Aotearoa, ready to put into action what he learned in England and he started the kiwi summer doing exactly that.
In my team selection wrap Niche Cast extravaganza, I forgot to mention a fixture going on between Auckland A and Northern Districts A. With their crew of Blackcaps (no Colin de Grandhomme) ND have their usual crew of Plunket Shield troopers playing in this 'A' fixture; Henry Cooper, Bharat Popli, Joe Carter, Brett Hampton, Joe Walker, Peter Bocock and Brett Randell. All of those lads will likely pop up when the Blackcaps battlers gap the scene and we could see Anurag Verma join them to bolster the seam attack as he's also laced up for ND A.
Auckland's crew of second tier blokes is also rather impressive; Graeme Beghin, Will O'Donnell, Craig Cachopa, Finn Allen, Corey Anderson, Ben Lister and Danru Ferns. Most, if not all of this group will play Plunket Shield at some stage this summer and while Anderson's obviously too talented for 'A' cricket, Beghin and Allen both dabbled in 50+ scores last season, as well as Lister (26.40avg last season) and Ferns (30.60avg).
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Peace and love 27.