Multiple contributors are delivering with bat and ball and it has Canterbury on the verge of their third Plunket Shield title in four summers.
Veteran Canterbury batsman Peter Fulton said the side’s ability to get strong performances from different people in each round has been integral to their four-day success.
Canterbury hold a handy 19 point buffer in the standings with two rounds left as they look to become the first side since the 2009-10 Northern Districts team to win the four-day and one-day titles in the same season.
Fulton said Canterbury’s innings and 119-run thrashing of Otago at Hagley Oval last week demonstrated why they were sitting top of the table.
Skipper Andrew Ellis took career-best first class bowling figures of 6-35, while Logan van Beek was outstanding in Otago’s second dig, taking 5-43.
With the bat, Canterbury’s formidable 432-9 was built around a third Plunket Shield ton of the season from South African-born opener Chad Bowes, who hit 137, and a composed 73 from Ken McClure, who has regained form.
“A lot of guys are chipping in and I guess that’s what’s made us reasonably hard to beat. We’re not relying on one or two guys to perform. That’s been a big part of it,” Fulton said.
Fulton described the Otago rout as one of Canterbury’s most comprehensive four-day victories in several seasons.
They had to slog it out in the second innings with seamer Henry Shipley breaking down in his first over with a side strain injury, which forced him from the field.
Fulton rated van Beek’s bowling effort as his best in white clothing for Canterbury.
“It was a pretty dominant win. We probably won every session of the game just about … We pretty much took all our chances and the batting was a good solid team performance to get a pretty big total.”
Canterbury take on Central Districts in their next match at Nelson’s Saxton Oval, starting on Tuesday, and finish their campaign at Hagley Oval against Wellington, starting next Wednesday.
Buoyed by their first Ford Trophy one-day title in 11 years last month, Canterbury have transferred their pleasing play over to the longer format. Since the Plunket Shield resumed in late February, they have won two matches and had a rain-affected draw against Auckland.
Fulton felt the depth within Canterbury cricket was improving with several of their young homegrown talents, early in their first class careers, making the step up well to the next level.
At various stages this season, players like Jack Boyle, Cole McConchie, Jeremy Benton, Shipley and McClure have made an impact in the three forms.
“There’s plenty of opportunities for young guys in Canterbury, if they’re prepared to work hard. The ones that have worked hard have been given chances to impress and made the most of those opportunities.”
Fulton, who hit a match-winning 116 not out from 58 balls in the Ford Trophy final, has got several starts in the Plunket Shield, but been unable to carry on and make it a substantial knock.
As for his future, the 38-year-old stalwart in his 16th summer of domestic cricket, wasn’t looking any further than this season.
Fulton, Canterbury’s all-time leader for first class matches  and runs  would sit down at the end of the summer and assess what he wanted to do.
He said he wasn’t leaning one way or the other yet.
Injured Shipley has been replaced by fit-again left arm quick Ed Nuttall, who’s been out since early January with a shoulder injury.
In other round eight matches, Otago host Auckland in Dunedin, while Northern Districts meet Wellington in Mt Maunganui.
AT A GLANCE:
Central Districts v Canterbury; Saxton Oval, Nelson (Tues to Fri)
Canterbury: Andrew Ellis (c), Jack Boyle, Chad Bowes, Peter Fulton, Ken McClure, Cole McConchie, Todd Astle, Cam Fletcher, Tim Johnston, Logan van Beek, Ed Nuttall, Will Williams.
Central Districts: Will Young (c), Ben Smith, Greg Hay, Jesse Ryder, George Worker, Tom Bruce, Dane Cleaver, Adam Milne, Ajaz Patel, Navin Patel, Blair Tickner, Liam Dudding.
Plunket Shield points after eight rounds: Canterbury 93, Auckland 74, ND 69, Wellington 64, Otago 46, CD 45.
Article courtesy of Brendan Egan – Stuff.
Image courtesy of Photosport NZ.