Central Stags batsman Tom Bruce today achieved a feat unique in the 115-year history of New Zealand’s Plunket Shield: the first batsman to score double centuries in consecutive innings or matches in the national first-class championship.
Bruce backed up his unbeaten 208* against Northern Districts in the COVID-cancelled match in Whangarei last week with another unbeaten innings of 204* today against the champions elect, the Auckland Aces, at Napier’s McLean Park.
Bruce’s century in Whangarei had been his first at first-class level since 2016/17, but the personal century drought has turned into a flood with his twin double hundreds coming off the back of an unbeaten 90* against Canterbury in Palmerston North where he had been just 10 runs from a coveted fifth career hundred when his captain had declared.
The three innings have seen him spend a total of 1,175 minutes (19.58 hours) at the crease.
NZC statistician Francis Payne notes that the 30-year-old Te Kuiti-born, Taranaki batsman is the first New Zealand player to amass 500 first-class runs without being dismissed, and that Bruce now has 858 runs in first-class Plunket Shield cricket this season, at a scorching average of 143.
Bruce has overtaken Otago Volt Nick Kelly as the Plunket Shield season’s top run-scorer, and now has a first-class career average that has zoomed up by several notches in the space of two games to 47.13.
Bruce’s achievement was assisted by Josh Clarkson who batted alongside him for the bulk of the third day, Clarkson reaching his maiden first-class half century en route to his own career-best first-class score of 83.
The pair put on 191 for the sixth wicket.
Clarkson then took a wicket before bad light ended play to have the Auckland Aces 9/1 in their second innings, trailing the Central Stags by 185 runs, and requiring a big effort tomorrow to maintain their undefeated status.
Meanwhile, in Whangarei, visitors the Wellington Firebirds are 264 for six after their second day of action, leading Northern Districts by 76 runs.
Earlier, Firebirds paceman Iain McPeake took his fourth first-class five-wicket bag (5-36) as he helped roll the fresh-look ND side for 188 in 92.3 overs.
ND captain Ish Sodhi will resume the third day sitting on figures of 4-65.