19 Mar 2024

Bracewell bowls career best in big Wellington win

6:06 am on 19 March 2024
New Zealand's Michael Bracewell

New Zealand's Michael Bracewell Photo: PHOTOSPORT

A stunning performance from Black Cap Michael Bracewell has put the Wellington Firebirds back in charge of the national Plunket Shield championship.

The 33-year-old member of one of New Zealand cricket's most famous cricket families took a career-best 8/41 off just 11.4 overs at the Basin Reserve to ensure the Wellington Firebirds took an innings victory over the Otago Volts, with a day to spare.

Off-spinner Bracewell's previous best first-class figures (having moved, several years ago, towards becoming a spinning allrounder in order to increase his chance of Black Caps' selection) had been 5/43 in 2019/20.

That was the first season he began to bowl at first-class level, having previously played for nine seasons as a batsman only.

On Monday he led the way to bowl out the Otago Volts for just 99 in 27.4 overs in their second innings, with the Wellington spinners - Bracewell and leg-spinning accomplice Peter Younghusband (2/27) - taking all 10 wickets to fall, and 15 for the match between them, after Younghusband's bag in the first innings.

The result gives the Firebirds the maximum 20 points for the match, returning them to the top of the table where they currently hold a four-point (interim) lead over former leader Northern Districts.

The Firebirds' victory in Wellington meanwhile sets up a must-see last match in Hamilton from Sunday when they will be taking on ND, the two frontrunners for this season's national title going head-to-head.

Bracewell twice put himself on a hat-trick (unconverted) during his star turn, and he rocked the Volts by taking three wickets - Thorn Parkes, Dale Phillips and captain Dean Foxcroft for a golden duck - in a game-changing, chaotic eighth over from which the remainder of the Volts line-up never recovered.

The career-best performance comes less than a year after Bracewell was injured playing county cricket in England.

He ruptured his right Achilles tendon - missing the World Cup last year.

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