Central Stags’ Ben Smith and Brad Schmulian smash 252-run opening partnership

At Seddon Park, Hamilton: Northern Districts Men 274-9 (Henry Cooper 102 not out, Joe Carter 67, Kristian Clarke 45; Brett Randell 5-39, Ray Toole 2-49) lost to Central Stags 275-4 in 39.4 overs (Ben Smith 145, Brad Schmulian 93, Joe Walker 2-45, Kristian Clarke 2-50) by six wickets.

Losing three top order wickets for just two runs would usually spell disaster in the Ford Trophy but not so much when the openers have already racked up 252.

Central Districts have eventually secured a six wicket win, chasing down Northern Districts Men’s 274-9 in 39.4 overs, after a late wobble, with Ben Smith blasting 145 from just 119 balls at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Tuesday.

Smith combined with Brad Schmulian for a mammoth 252-run opening stand at a rate of just over 6.8 runs per over.

Ben Smith has blasted 145 from just 119 balls for the Central Stags (file photo).

Kerry Marshall/Getty Images

Ben Smith has blasted 145 from just 119 balls for the Central Stags (file photo).

Smith, who belted 16 fours and six sixes, was eventually bowled when he tried to scoop Kristian Clarke on the final ball of the 37th over. His 145 was the eighth-highest knock in Central Stags Ford Trophy history and was just shy of his own best List A score of 149 not out.

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Bizarrely, Schmulian was caught by Neil Wagner just two balls later, missing a golden opportunity to reach triple figures when he departed for 93 from 105 balls.

Josh Clarkson was caught on the boundary at cow corner two runs later and Dane Cleaver was dismissed for a duck but Will Young and William Clark guided the Stags home.

Smith and Schmulian’s special partnership didn’t get near the record books however, with Jamie How and Jeet Raval’s 321-run opening stand – ironically at the same ground – from the 2012-13 season still unchallenged as Central’s highest partnership for any wicket.

Stags legend How has long since retired but Raval had a front-row seat to Smith and Schmulian’s antics as Northern’s captain on Tuesday.

Earlier, Henry Cooper also brought up a century when he finished 102 not out from 116 balls for Northern.

Former Northern seamer Brett Randell helped restrict his old side with the outstanding figures of 5-39 from his 10 overs.

Central’s win lifts them back to the top of the Ford Trophy ladder but Canterbury – who have played one less game – can overtake them when they tackle the Otago Volts on Wednesday.

Ford Trophy table: Central Stags 24 points (8 games), Canterbury 21(7), Northern Districts 17 (7), Wellington Firebirds 14 (7), Otago Volts 12 (6), Auckland Aces 8 (7).

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