A revised game plan, built around an inspired team effort, saw Marlborough’s rep cricketers book a place in the Hawke Cup zone three qualifying final on Sunday.
They were too good for Nelson over two days on a testing Ngawatu pitch, claiming an outright victory by 175 runs.
Batting first, Marlborough reached a handy total of 250 from 71 overs, then ripped through the youthful Nelson batting line-up, bowling them out for 107 in 35.3 overs to claim vital first innings points.
Marlborough decided not to enforce the follow-on, not wanting to bat fourth, and were 15-1 at stumps on Saturday.
On Sunday they battled to a respectable 162-8 before declaring with 60 overs remaining, meaning Nelson needed to score at more than five an over from the outset. In the end they never threatened, another top bowling and fielding effort seeing the home side dismissed for 130 in the 37th over.
Marlborough coach Jarrod Englefield said that although his side had lost the toss and were inserted, they would have batted anyway.
“It was a good couple of days … we had a strategy to play things a bit different. The last couple of times we have played against them they have outplayed us, so we decided on a different approach.
“We wanted to play a faster style of two-day cricket. Try to get some momentum, get some runs and build the run-rate up … we got some good partnerships going, ran well between wickets, got a pretty good total, then the boys bowled well and set the game up on Saturday.
“The guys knuckled down in the second innings, Matthew Stretch batted well as did young Cooper Roberts on debut and Chris Turkington. In the end we were able to declare at a total we felt pretty comfortable with. Their batsmen had to go at it pretty hard and then we built pressure and with Nick Weaver bowling well again we got the job done.
“It was Nick’s third five-wicket bag for Marlborough, he’s so much fitter this year which is a credit to him. It was a big effort in hot conditions. Matthew Stretch also had an outstanding game, 40 in the first innings, 60 in the second, plus three slip catches and a wicket.
“But all the lads did well … there were contributions from everyone.”
Sunday’s result means Marlborough top the zone three table with 20 points, Canterbury Country have 13 and Nelson 10. The only game still to be played is at Horton Park next weekend, when Marlborough meet Country to effectively decide where the zonal final (on February 14-16) will be staged.
On day one the visiting side’s medium pacers did the job, Tarin Mason and Weaver removing the dangerous Zohrab twins, who opened the Nelson innings, plus top order batsmen Paddy Howes and Finn Restieaux with just 40 runs on the board.
From there wickets fell regularly, Jerrym Lamb and Chris Turkington cleaning up proceedings with three scalps apiece. Mason finished with 2-14 from six, Weaver 2-21 from eight, Lamb 3-18 from seven and Turkington 3-12 from four.
Marlborough’s batting was very much a team effort, five players passing 20 but only Prabodha Arthavidu (56 from 109 balls) going on to a half century. Stretch contributed 41 from 81, Lamb 39 from 71 and Harry MacDonald a hard-hit 32 from just 27 deliveries.
A 76-run second wicket partnership between Ave and Arthavidu and 61 for the sixth wicket between Lamb and MacDonald were the best combined efforts.
Despite the loss of Ave before stumps on Saturday, Marlborough continued to bat positively, Stretch’s 66 from 84 balls anchoring the innings as they kept the scoreboard ticking over through small partnerships.
The 37-run partnership for the eighth wicket between Stretch and Roberts (19 not out) was the best of the innings.
Nelson’s run chase never really got off the ground as wickets fell continually. Nelson had no choice other than have a crack, but the visiting bowlers were not to be denied.
Weaver’s 5-39 from 11.5 overs was the outstanding performance, while all his fellow bowlers performed with control and energy, MacDonald, Boyce, Stretch, Turkington and Lamb picking up a wicket apiece.
Englefield said that as the wicket was hard to bat on they were intent on scoring, rather than batting to occupy the crease.
“We were trying to take the game away from them. We were prepared to play four innings, got momentum and from there just controlled the game.
“We also bowled a lot straighter than them, getting lbws, bowled and caught behinds. The boys just played bloody good cricket.”
Marlborough 250 (Prabodha Arthavidu 56, Matthew Stretch 41, Jerrym Lamb 39, Harry MacDonald 32, Ma’are Ave 30, Felix Murray 4/79, Max Mannering 2/3, Thomas Zohrab 2/53) Nelson 107 (Thomas Zohrab 26, Nic Clark 21, Chris Turkington 3/12, Jerrym Lamb 3/18, Tarin Mason 2/14) Marlborough 162/8 dec (Stretch 66, Thomas Zohrab 2/29, Josh Newport 2/36, Jarrod McKay 2/38) Nelson 130 (Paddy Howes 39, Nic Clark 30, Nick Weaver 5/39).
Marlborough won by 175 runs