In a near perfect weekend for the Demons, the women’s 2nd XI is off to the grand final to defend their title; the men’s 1st XI jumped into the preliminary final; while the 4th XI advanced to the semi-final round. The Seconds, however, suffered an agonising one run defeat to bring their season to a ‘rude’ end. It also finished with a touch of sadness as one of our great playing servants hung up his boots (literally and figuratively).
While it is the time of year where team performance and result is paramount, it is difficult to ignore the number of outstanding individual performances in each one of the weekend’s Demon’s finals encounters. So where to start?
Chasing ‘runs on the board’ often seems more difficult in finals however that didn’t stop all four skippers winning the toss and sending the opposition in. In strong southerly winds at all venues on Saturday, none more so than at Mervyn Hughes Oval, bowlers took a little while to find their rhythm. Having said that, I do hear that at all three men’s games, if the ‘slippers’ had their catching mitts on, the bowlers jobs might have been made a little easier.
In the 1sts, Footscray reached 1 for 87 before real inroads were made. Chis Tremain (2/54) removed their top scorer before quickly taking another and Jackson Coleman (2/43) accounted for the dangerous Dean. Cameron White broke a threatening partnership before Kyle Williamson (2/26) chipped in and Kieran Elliott (3/34) grabbed the last two to dismiss the Bulldogs for 214.
Any concerns of a nervous or cautious chase went out the window, even after the loss of an early wicket. Blake Thomson scored freely from the start and Sam Harper took no time getting into gear. At stumps we were a remarkable 1/77 off just 14 overs. The pace of the chase slowed little on day two when Blake and Sam exerted complete control, putting on an unbroken 207 in just over 50 overs. Sam brought up a tremendous century, finishing an unbeaten 122 scored off 169 balls (12 fours and a six). It was a pity we didn’t have a few more to chase as it would have been fitting for Blake to end with a ‘ton’ beside his name, but he would be very content taking his side to a preliminary final berth with an undefeated 90 (149 balls, 12 fours).
The star in the 2nds narrowest of losses was Jackson Koop; 6 for 50 including a hat-trick and being a defiant, unbeaten 37 when the last wicket fell says it all; hardly fitting to come out on the losing side but ‘that’s cricket’. Monash Tigers had recovered from 4 for 49 to be 4/135 when Phil Halbish took the second of his two wickets, and when Will Ryan grabbed one the Tigers were 6/136. A mini-recovery was looming when Jackson trapped one of the Tigers top scorers LBW. He cleaned bowled the next bat and with his first ball of his next over knocked over the other bat that was holding us up to register a hat-trick. Jackson’s sixth had the Tigers all out for 180.
In reply the Demons reached a comfortable 75 before losing our first wicket. When top scorer Will Thompson (71 off 82 balls, four 4s and a six) went with the score on 3/102, we lost our way. We battled to 5/134 at stumps however on the second morning things could have hardly gone worse, losing a collective 6 for 17 to be 9 for 143, still 37 short of the needed win. Phil Halbish (24) then showed his commitment and experience, pairing with Jackson who had remained throughout the collapse, taking the Demons to the brink of what would have been a remarkable win in the end. Unfortunately we had no choice but to accept the umpire’s LBW decision, however a bitter pill that was to swallow.
The 4ths had what ended up being a comfortable six-wicket win. However that didn’t come without a lot of hard work as the Tigers ground it out at the crease when bowled out for 134 in the 80th over just on stumps. The workhorse, pushing up into the strong southerly, was Trent Thompson (pictured) whose two spells were justly rewarded with five wickets, ending with 5 for 34 off 19 overs. Hugh Hyslop also toiled hard taking 2/27 off 17 overs and also threw the stumps down to break a stubborn partnership.
Pat Frawley (24) helped his side off to a reasonable start before Max Tucker (46 n.o.) took over and had Alistair McCooke (28 n.o.) help his side the semi-final.
The women’s 2nd XI are set to defend their one-day premiership title and has no one to thank more than last season’s skipper, Clem Ryan-Fuller . Clem had a delayed start to the season due to her studies and slight injury but showed she has saved her best form for the right time of year. Bowling first, Clem took 2 for 8 over her 9 overs (5 maidens). Hasrat Gill (3/14) continued with her wicket-taking prowess, helping restrict Ringwood to 8/116 from their 45 overs.
Clem then led from the front, falling just one short on a half-century, being dismissed when just seven short of victory that was achieved four down with 11 overs in hand; a tremendous all-round performance.
Announcements will follow on this weekend’s games when all information is to hand.
SEAN CALLS IT QUITS
On what turned out to be an emotional note after the 2nd XIs disappointing loss, Sean Sturrock announced his retirement from Premier cricket as he looks to longer term travel plans. There will be another time and place to reflect and expand on Sean’s wonderful contribution to the Melbourne Cricket Club, but to summarise:
Joined the Demons as a 15 y.o. at the start of the 2005/06 season from Williamstown CC juniors and Moonee Valley CC before that, the first of 15 years in red, white and blue colours