08 January 2012

How to come a cropper

Wellington's Mark Gillespie collides with team-mate Rory Hamilton-Brown

Wellington played Canterbury on Friday at the Basin Reserve in a Twenty20 match, and while the game seemed even at the innings break, with Canterbury scoring 151/8 and Wellington's Andy McKay and Jeetan Patel each snaring three wickets for fewer than 20 runs. However, Wellington chased poorly, with only James Franklin and extras reaching double digits, and Canterbury dismissed their opponents for a meagre total of 90, thereby earning a 61-run victory.

Probably the most notable event of the game occurred during the 10th over of Canterbury's innings, when the South Islanders were racing to a high score at more than eight runs per over with only one wicket down. The 22-year-old Canterbury opener George Worker hit a low ball to midwicket, and two Wellington fielders, bowler Mark Gillespie and English import Rory Hamilton-Brown, dove for the catch. Hamilton-Brown, the Surrey captain who was playing his first match for Wellington, took the catch to end Worker's dangerous innings at 45 from 29 balls, but the ensuing collision with Gillespie saw both fielders incapacitated and the match halted while both received medical attention. Hamilton-Brown was worst off from the encounter, heavily gashing his right leg. But after receiving 12 stitches in his calf and a dose of painkillers he bravely returned to open the batting for Wellington.

Hamilton-Brown nurses his injured right calf

Wellington captain Grant Elliott calls for medical assistance
The Dominion Post's Mark Geenty reported that 'Gillespie was nursing a sore neck, and should also have received a thick ear from his coach. It was always Hamilton-Brown's catch and Gillespie's reckless dive could have resulted in broken limbs'. All in all it wasn't a good day for Gillespie, who played 46 matches for New Zealand from 2006 to 2009: later in Canterbury's innings he beamed the Canterbury captain Peter Fulton, and he finished with unsightly bowling figures of 4-0-42-1. Perhaps the scoreboard gnomes had this in mind when they left up the following incriminating letters, halfway through removing Luke Woodcock's surname:

A bit harsh on Gillespie, perhaps?

The 24-year-old Hamilton-Brown should be one to watch in future, and it's good that Wellington has formed a relationship with him early in his career. In Friday's paper he was quoted as saying, 'I like that pressure of going away from where you're comfortable in a county side, into a new side where you've got to prove yourself again. I can't wait to get out there'. Every cricket bio makes a point of mentioning that in 2009 Hamilton-Brown was appointed as Surrey's captain, thereby becoming the county's youngest captain for 138 years. He also led the county back into the top division in English cricket.

Surrey is a hugely influential team - London's 'other' team besides Middlesex - and for a young cricketer to be given charge of such a high-stakes outfit is a real vote of confidence in Hamilton-Brown's ability. His 2011 record for the county is relatively solid. In 16 first-class county matches in 2011 he scored 1039 runs at an average of 37.1 - just the one century in 30 innings though. In 13 List A (one-day) matches he scored a more modest 372 runs at 28.6, but at a commendable strike rate of 120. And in 15 T20 matches for the county he managed a somewhat disappointing 232 runs at an average of 17.8 and a strike rate of 129. Hopefully he'll score plenty more runs for Wellington this summer.

Other scenes from the match:

Gillespie bowls from the northern end

Andy McKay bowls from the scoreboard end

Kids flock for free mini cricket bats

A young fan on the ground at half time

Racing clouds on a traditional Basin cricket day

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