Heavy rain on Saturday had a large effect on all of the Premier finals over the weekend, and assisted our 2nd XI in making the Grand Final while it provided additional hurdles for the 3rd & 4th XIs which they were unable to overcome. All games were played under “ordinary conditions”, meaning there was no compulsory closure as per normal finals matches.
At Schramms Reserve #2, St Kilda’s 4th XI captain won the toss and batted on a good surface and had to face 24 overs that evening. Tight bowling and intent from the fielding side saw them get through 31 overs, as the Saints finished the first day at 1/38 – Fraser Thomas taking the sole wicket.
This left CMCC needing to take nine wickets and chase down the runs within eighty overs, but St Kilda’s stoic batting meant that this was never a true possibility. Having had a platform set up, St Kilda went at five an over on the second day, and with 88 overs bowled hands were shaken with the higher ranked side at 5/300. Fraser Thomas added a second wicket, finishing with 2/56 from 14, while Anton Ponnamperuma (1/43 from 22) was his economical self. Daniel Walker and Eshaan Patel took the other wickets.
The thriller was down at Shepley Oval, as the 3rd XI encountered some deja vu against Dandenong. We batted first in some bowling friendly conditions, negotiating 44 overs to finish at 3/129 at the end of Day 1. The first eight overs saw our batsman initiate some carnage, as we faced eight overs and reached 7/211 – Nick Trapani top scoring with 73 and Hamish Burrill continuing his awesome form with 61 from 68 balls. This left us 69 overs to bowl out Dandenong to play in a Grand Final.
In the game during the season, Dandenong held on grimly for a draw with two wickets to spare having been in early strife. Here they got off to a better start, but couldn’t put together a partnership of more than 32 as they fell to 7/155. From this point the resistance held for the Panthers, as wicketkeeper Harris found some support as a 43 run partnership brought them within sight of the 212 required to win.
The dismissal of Harris, Vanderslik’s third wicket, created one last opportunity, but we were unable to grasp it as after 80 overs, Dandenong once more survived with two wickets in hand, this time only five runs short of victory. Vanderslik’s 11 overs brought him 3/27, while Paddy McKenna snared 3/32 from 14. Andrew Chau and Lachie Mahon took a wicket each, as the 3rd XI’s season came to a raw finish.
The 2nd XI tossed but then the rain arrived, delaying play till 3:30pm as Melbourne then had forty overs to bowl that evening. Kieran Elliott put in a monster shift, bowling fifteen of the twenty overs from the top end and claiming the wickets of Rowles (5) and Rawson (1) as we fell to 3/22. Sam Newell joined Shane Mays and set about trying to get ourselves back into the game, putting on a 49 run partnership in tough scoring conditions, as the outfield was slow and the fields well set.
A leg side stumping sent Newell back for 30 and this left us at 4/73 at stumps. The next morning James Wiseman played his best innings for the club, defending when appropriate but also pushing the scoreboard along with drives through cover and some clean pull shots. He and Mays put on 114 to bat through the first session and set up the second day for the Magpies.
The second new ball saw a turn of fortunes, as Elliott knocked over Mays for 55, his stay lasting an invaluable 199 balls as he battled against his own instincts to fight for the team. Just before the drinks break to mark the halfway mark of Day 2, we lost both Wiseman (83) and Bhargave to hook shots from Elliott within two runs of each other, to be 7/197 and 48 overs left in the day.
The last three wickets were able to put on a vital 43 runs, but also take enough time out of the game so that there were only 30 overs left for Melbourne to chase the runs. Elliott bowled superbly to finish with 5/46 from 35 overs, but cameos from McNamara (13), Singh (23 from 50) and Dwyer (3* from 30) meant that the required rate for Melbourne was going to be eight an over.
The Demons certainly came out firing, and showed their intent taking 22 from the first two overs. But the dismissal of Petricola (21 off 12) helped stem the tide a little and allow Steve Singh and Mark Dwyer (2/46) to build some dot ball pressure. Melbourne fell to 4/46 as Koop and Brewin tried to consolidate, but as they did the run rate required tipped over ten an over. Koop hit some large sixes, but the wickets kept on coming at the other end, particularly for Singh who bowled with good pace and late movement, ending up with 6/53 from 8.3 overs – a good indication of the frenetic nature of the last session of play.
In the end we bowled out Melbourne for 105 from 16.5 overs, to secure a place in the Grand Final against St Kilda next week. The game will be played at the Albert Ground, as we hopefully can see the season off on a high.