Cricket: Unheralded South African fast bowler Danru Ferns vital to Auckland Aces' success on eve of Super Smash final

Auckland are just one win away from a first domestic Twenty20 title since winning the inaugural Super Smash competition in 2016.  

And while the Aces will lean on their returning big names, the key to getting to the big dance has been a quietly spoken South African fast bowler.  

Not even water balloons can end the Aces title drought, yet.  

"We've been reminiscing a bit throughout the week, and getting the pencil sharpened for Sunday," captain Robbie O'Donnell told Newshub.  

Alongside Mark Chapman, O'Donnell is one of just two players from when the Auckland men last claimed a domestic T20 crown, eight years ago.  

A young tearaway named Lockie Ferguson couldn't even crack that side.  

"That team had a lot of senior players," he said. "Blackcaps came back in the mix, which was good.  

"Hopefully the same happens again this weekend."  

Ferguson is now one of those returning Blackcaps, along with Chapman and Finn Allen.

Danru Ferns was also there in 2015, but only as a net bowler, who'd come over from South Africa for a holiday.  

"I was a stranger with a very thick South African accent at the time," he told Newshub.  

"They just were really nice, friendly and invited me in.  

"It was one of the great memories for me."   

His accent is now a little weaker, though 29-year-old Ferns himself is even stronger and faster.  

He's the competition's leading wicket-taker with 18 scalps, at an average of 13.  

"His skills have been excellent - he's nailing wide hole, he's nailing his knuckleball," said Ferguson of his teammate.  

"The confidence is carrying him through really well."   

"[I'm] just identifying what I can execute, and then just sticking to that," Ferns added.   

"Those are my go-tos at the moment. Hopefully no one sees this."  

The celebration balloons, rather than water, may be pulled out instead.