Runs flowed in abundance throughout Plunket Shield round six and while there was also no shortage of wickets, having six centuries in round six is made funkier by having sixteen other 50+ scores. I won't go into depth about all the batsmen who scored runs as I'd be hammering my keyboard for far too long, so I'm putting the focus on those who passed 100.
Not by much though as McConchie's 162 in Canterbury's win over Wellington Firebirds was slightly better than knocks of 158 from Greg Hay and 150 from Will Young in Centrals Districts Stags win over Otago Volts. George Worker chimed in with 110, as all of the Stags top-three hit centuries and then in the drawn game between Auckland Aces and Northern Districts Knights, Martin Guptill cracked 120 and Glenn Phillips 138* was the only not-out hundy of the lot.
All these centuries came in the first innings, with the three Stags centuries setting up a win over the Volts by an innings and Canterbury enjoying a fairly comfy run-chase of 127 which they did with 9 wickets in hand. All these centuries also came from lads with funky narratives around them and all these lads can consider themselves in the second-tier of kiwi batsmen - below Test level.
McConchie is perhaps on the periphery of the second-tier, however the Cantab is building a hefty case to now be known as my 'best batsman you don't know about'. It's been a fairly lean Plunket Shield campaign for McConchie thus far as this was his first notable score and he banged out half of his total runs (162 of 306) in the one innings. It's not a complete case, however I McConchie has steadily been going about his business for Canterbury without much fuss being made about him and he has enjoyed numerous patches of big runs in various formats.
10th in runs, McConchie should probably be know as the 'best cricketer you don't know about' as he's also averaging 23.36 via 11w this season with his offies. In his career, McConchie has a First Class batting average that is a smidge over 30 (31.46) and bowling average a smidge under 30 (29.38); anyone with batting and bowling averages either side of 30 is bloody handy.
Todd Astle has almost played 100 FC games more than McConchie, however his career averages make for an interesting comparison. Astle averages under 30 with the bat (25.72) and over 30 with the ball (31.88), McConchie has three centuries and Astle has two.
Last round I suggested that George Worker may be back in form after he hit an 83 vs Canterbury and now he has backed it up with 110. That gives Worker scores of 12, 83 and 110 in his last 3inns, which is vintage Worker and while Greg Hay hasn't been able to pass 50 in every game as he did last season, he's not far off; 226, then 0, 52, then 2,0 and now 158.
Hay is currently 3rd in runs with 475 @ 52.77avg and his career FC average is up to 43.48. That's sensational alone, or paired together, however this comes after Hay averaged 60.46 last season and Hay also had a strong Ford Trophy campaign this summer in which he 43.87. Devon Conway had scores of 40 and 1 for Wellington, falling victim to the hostile seam attack on a juicy Hagley Oval pitch and Conway is now the only other Plunket Shield batsman with two centuries this season along with Hay.
However, Hay is 3rd in runs, not 2nd behind Conway because Hay is stuck behind his wicket-keeper Dane Cleaver who hit 83 for the Stags after their trio of centuries. Cleaver is on a monumentally funky streak of three 50+ scores in a row (65, 63, 83) and has passed 50 six times (1 hundy, 5 halfies); no other batsman has more than four 50+ scores this season.
Cleaver's averaging 61.12 and while he didn't hit a century, his recent work is super notable and has seen him climb the wicket-keeper rankings. I've got Cleaver as the low key alternative underground best wicket-keeper batsman not in the Blackcaps and he's only getting better.
As for Will Young, this was his first notable knock of the Plunket Shield as he has only played two games with 3inns. It was a bummer we didn't get to see much of Young in the Ford Trophy, yet we did see him churn out 50-over runs for Aotearoa 'A' and that was followed by a strong Super Smash campaign for the champion Stags. Now Young has put up a score in his second Plunket Shield game of the summer, reinforcing his status as the best batting prospect across all formats in Aotearoa.
The Aces enjoyed centuries from Martin Guptill and Glenn Phillips and while everyone loves a bit of Gup, this is all about Phillips. I've had a close eye on Phillips all summer in domestic cricket and after a 60 in his last Plunket Shield outing, Phillips hit 138* and 31 vs ND Knights to take him up to 408 runs @ 81.60avg. Notably, Phillips has as strike-rate of 56.90 and while that's higher than the five other batsmen who have 400+ runs, it's not a crazy strike-rate and points to Phillips batting according to the format.
Also funky here is that Phillips didn't play as Auckland's wicket-keeper, with Ben Horne operating behind the sticks. Instead, Phillips bowled 17 overs of off-spin to take 3w @ 4.18rpo and as we know how the Blackcaps love bowlers who can bat, perhaps Phillips' 5w @ 25.40avg this season may have him in Blackcaps Test contention, lol.
From Phillips, I have two final notes regarding a wicket-keeper and a spinner who can bat...
Cameron Fletcher hit 64 for Canterbury and he's currently simmering away with scores of 60, 22* and 64 in his last 3inns. 7th in Plunket Shield runs, Fletcher is averaging 45.87 and as long as Phillips is primarily operating as a batsman (with Horne in the 1st 11), Fletcher isn't too far behind Cleaver in the current wicket-keeper/batsmen stakes.
Sticking with Canterbury and Theo van Woerkom - who could be considered Canterbury's frontline spinner from their team vs Wellington depending on how you view McConchie - hit 63* in conjunction with Fletcher's first innings knock. This was van Woerkom's second 50+ score and he's averaging a nifty 36.75 this season.
Wait on, one more weird note; Ish Sodhi is averaging 50.25 with the bat In Plunket Shield cricket with a strike-rate of 74.44.
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Peace and love 27.