A DAY OF HIGHLIGHTS –
Saturday marked a significant event for the Club with our 1st XI competing against Carlton for the Dean Jones Cup for the first time. The opportunity to honour one of our favourite sons wasn’t lost on the players, who showed great resolve to win a tight contest with a line-up depleted by injury. Deano would have loved the tension, win and the passionate rendition of the Club song which underlined a second-place finish and winning of the Club Championship for the 21st time. This accolade is a credit to Ben Vague and his coaching team, and all players and officials who’ve contributed.
The victory on Saturday followed the unfurling of the 2019/20 Premiership pennant, which took place during the innings break, with Jane Jones doing the honours, assisted by daughters Phoebe and Gus.
Moving tributes on Dean’s contributions to Melbourne and Carlton were made by current Chairman of Selectors (and former captain-coach) Michael Sholly, and former player, President and current Blues committeeman John Douglas.
Overnight and early morning rain resulted in a late start and a reduced overs game - 37 a side. Glenn Arnup and his ground staff did a wonderful job as usual in getting the ground match ready and there was nothing that could dampen the excitement of debutant Kobe Herft. After a succession of standout performances from the 3rds to the 2nds, Kobe thoroughly earned his ‘hoops’ and was presented with his 1st XI cap by recently-retired club great and 1st XI Premiership player Patrick Smith. It was a fitting passing of the baton.
Captain Blake Thomson won the toss and noting the moisture, sent Carlton in to bat. Opening the bowling, Glenn Hannah made an incredible impact immediately, removing dangerous openers Brayden Stepien (averaging 55 this season) and Evan Gulbis (who was coming off consecutive centuries). The tall seamer finished with 2/10 off 7 overs, including 4 maidens, which would prove invaluable in the tight run chase that ensued.
Kobe Herft managed to draw a ‘drag on’ with his off-spin to ‘get on the scoreboard’ and was rightly engulfed by his teammates. His wicket reduced the Blues to 3/38. Jack Prestwidge didn’t bowl at the peak of his powers but did what he’s done all season: take wickets. He took four of them (4/38) and helped restrict Carlton to 9/139 at the compulsory closure.
Losing Charles Lill and Blake Thomson early, the Demons were 2/28 before a 51-run 3rd wicket partnership between Campbell Kellaway (25) and Jack Harper (31) restored the innings somewhat, however at 6/104 the target score of 140 with overs closing, was not going to be easy. Enter debutant Kobe Herft! He played with maturity beyond his 17 years and his authoritative 25 (4 x 4s and a six) got Melbourne to within six runs of victory when he was dismissed. Jack Craig gave valuable support to Kobe and showed terrific grit in batting with an injured thumb and remained unbeaten on 13. Melbourne’s winning score was 7/141, achieved in the 36th over.
No play due to state of wicket/ground. A ‘Draw’ the result. Sources close to Club coach Ben Vague suggest a washout – which confirmed the winning of the Club Championship – has never been so enthusiastically celebrated!
At 4/16 and then 6/47, Melbourne looked unlikely to set a competitive score. However, veteran and 1st XI premiership player Phil Halbish had other ideas, resurrecting the innings and ensuring his side batted out their 45 overs. ‘Bish’ was out off the last ball of the innings for a fine 49 (6 x 4s). His effort was surrounded by five players who got into double figures - Nick Pastras (13), Alex Pellin (15), Tom Reid (18), Josh Ash (14) and Aaron Boyle (12n.o.). These contributed to Melbourne’s compulsory closure score of 9/152.
At 5/119 and with Carlton’s top scorer (Mileto) still at the crease on 62, the Blues were threatening. However, with his dismissal by Josh Ash at this score the Carlton innings crumbled as they lost a further 4/12 to be all out for 132 in the 42nd over. Josh, with his tidy leg spin, finished with 4/32 (9) and Phil Halbish’s awkward seamers returned the magnificent figures of 4/12 (9). Not forgotten in this win was the excellent keeping of Alex Pellin. His six catches in the game take him to second overall on the 3rd XI table with 19 catches for the season and three stumpings. It was only the third time in the Club’s history that a 3rd XI ‘keeper had effected six dismissals.
Melbourne got off to a good start courtesy of an opening stand of 55 by Brendan Reddell (31) and James Meehan (19), however, we then lost three wickets in the space of 12 runs before skipper Alistair McCooke steadied the ship and his dogged 30 saw the Demons through to 7/109 when it was left to Hugh Hyslop to keep the score ticking over and bat out the allocated 45 overs. Hugh did this successfully, as he has so often done, with an unbeaten 23, with he and Stewart McCooke (4 n.o.) putting on a valuable 27 for the 9th wicket. Melbourne’s final score a respectable 8/150.
In reply Carlton was reeling at 4/26, with Hugh Hyslop having a day out, taking three wickets and Trent Thompson the other, however their middle order turned the innings around with the fifth wicket falling at 94 to Cameron Sturrock. At 7/143 the Blues were in sight of victory and got over the line in the final over, finishing at 7/151. Both Hugh and Cam have been consistent multiple wicket takers this season and added to their tallies with fine figures of 3/27 (9) and 2/34 (8.2), respectively. This was the 4th XI’s first loss for the season and given there was a number of players out injured it was a mighty effort to take the game so deep.
FINALS – WEEK ONE
Please find below the link to the fixture for a big week one of finals, including hosting three at our home fortresses!
Past players and supporters are encouraged to come down and support the teams throughout the finals. The recently refurbished Clive Fairbairn Pavillion has an enticing function room, bar and adjacent deck overlooking the Albert Ground and the facilities at Beaumaris Secondary College also have great appeal.