Cricket: Auckland Aces secure Plunket Shield crown with bonus point, one match remaining

Simon Keene in action for Auckland Aces
Simon Keene in action for Auckland Aces. Photo credit: Margot Butcher

Auckland Aces have wrapped up the 2021/22 Plunket Shield title, after scoring more than 200 runs in their penultimate match to secure the single point they needed to win New Zealand's domestic four-day competition for the 24th time.

Ollie Pringle - son of former NZ international bowler Chris Pringle - secured the bonus point with a thumping six off Central Stags spinner Ajaz Patel at Napier's McLean Park to ensure Northern Districts could not match their tally in the COVID-19 disrupted championship.

The start to Auckland's season was delayed by COVID lockdown and Northern Districts were forced to name seven debutants for their current match against Wellington in Whangarei, after an outbreak of the virus in their squad.

The Aces also lost coach Heinrich Malan mid-campaign, after he accepted the role as Ireland head coach. Former Blackcaps wicketkeeper-batsman Luke Ronchi took the reins for the rest of the season.

All-rounder Simon Keene paced the Auckland first innings at Napier with 65 runs, forming a 107-run partnership with debutant Flynn McGregor-Sumpter for the seventh wicket. International bowler Blair Tickner took his fifth first-class five-wicket bag with 5/69 for Central Districts, who lost three early wickets, as they chased Auckland's 221-run lead.

Auckland, who last won the Plunket Shield in 2015/16, have a match remaining against Canterbury and also triumphed in this season's Ford Trophy domestic one-day competition.