MEN’S PREMIER GRAND FINALS MATCH REPORTS
4th XI TRIUMPHS TO WIN PREMIERSHIP!
2nd AND 3rd XI’s OUTPLAYED BY BETTER TEAMS ON THE DAY
New technology (Frogbox) - enabled the Demons faithful to follow the fortunes of our teams in all three games via a live stream. With physical support provided across Footscray (2nds), the Albert Ground (3rds) and Beaumaris (4ths), virtual support was never easier. At the refurbished Clive Fairbairn Pavillion, spectators were able to watch the 3rds live and the 2nd and 4th XI’s on the screens in comfort.
4th XI v Richmond
The milestone 30th birthday of 4ths captain Alistair McCooke during the week would normally warrant a certain level of fanfare but the skipper had his eyes firmly set on a bigger prize and hopefully, a greater celebration.
Having sat atop the ladder for the majority of the season and dropping just a solitary game throughout, the 4ths were clear favourites but well aware of how fortunes can swing in
a two-horse race, especially in the one day format. You only had to look at the faces of the 1sts XI players - who were spectators for the grand final – to be reminded of the often ruthless nature of finals.
“We felt confident in the strength of the team across the board but knew we’d need to keep delivering if we were to win,” McCooke said.
“We’d overcome our share of challenges across the season and got ourselves out of some tough situations - so we were confident our skills would hold up in the contest.”
There were some inevitably tough calls made at the selection table earlier in the week as the ‘downstream’ effect of having the Twos and Threes in the grand final squeezed some great clubmen out of the Fours, including Cam Sturrock and Max Tucker.
Alistair won the toss and elected to bat on a good batting track at Beaumaris, which was presented with customary excellence by ground staff Scott West, Josh Henry and Nick Lindley. We lost an early wicket in Paddy Frawley (12) with the score on 23. A magnificent century partnership followed between Brendan Reddell and Darcy Daly. Brendan, a very promising young player, was out for 49 (3 x 4s) with the score then 2/128.
It was Brendan’s second significant partnership throughout the final series and he provided the perfect foil the experienced Darcy – who re-joined the Club in February after several years in the UK. He was joined by his captain and a busy but polished 78-run partnership followed, despite a leg injury to Darce requiring a runner. His great hand came to an end on 97 (9 x 4s, off 101 balls) – brutally just shy of the ton but having crucially navigated his team past the 200-run mark and to a large extent, having done his job and more.
“We know Darce is a talented player but he provided a steady hand at the top of the order and he was a calming presence for the other batsmen,” McCooke said.
“His partnership with Brendan really set the game up and both players showed cool heads.”
The skipper continued his great finals form and it took a run out to dismiss him for a typically assertive 34 - as Alistair’s innings’ always are! Melbourne went to the break satisfied
with their compulsory closure score of 6/235 off their 45 overs.
An early wicket to Hugh Hyslop and a run out – one of four in Richmond’s innings - had the Tigers 2/24. Although they reached 90 before the third wicket fell – bowled by promising U16 player Tom Reid (1/17 off 5 overs) - the run rate required was progressively increasing due to restrictive bowling and great fielding. A 76-run stand for the 5th wicket did build the Tigers score to 173 in the 41stth over but they still needed 63 off 27 balls and at the end, they lifted their total to 8/197. Hyslop finished with 2/39 (9) and Stewart McCooke’s left arm orthodox spinners yielded 1/36 (8).
“While there’s naturally various ins and outs over the course of a season, we had a core group of players who’d played a lot together and were passionate and highly invested,” the jubilant skipper said.
“These guys combined well with everyone else and I’m really proud of what they’ve achieved.”
“I also want to note the role Benny Vague and the rest of the Selection Committee (Sholl and the other captains) have played in making the club so vibrant this year.
“We all know managing t
he expectations at training and selection of 50-odd players is a tough gig, so I think the role of Benny shouldn’t be under estimated. I’m sure every player in the side felt like they had been afforded the same opportunities at training, etc as every other player in the club, which helped contribute to such a well-rounded and skilful team.”
Veteran scorer Mike Ringham – who battled a serious injury of his own during the season – played a key role (supported in his absence by Chris Lonergan and Greg Beynon) while Rob Templeton as usual emitted experience and support out of every pore to help the side.
It was a deserved Premiership to Melbourne’s 4th XI – congratulations to Alistair McCooke and his team!
2nd XI v Footscray
Having been sent in by Footscray at Merv Hughes Oval, the Demons’ openers Charles Lill and Xander Buxton started slowly but determinedly to set a foundation from which to build – and that they did. With the score on 66 Charles was out for 28 (5 x 4s). Two youngsters in Xander and Kobe Herft came together and with the score at 1/102, Melbourne was well placed to push towards to a defendable score.
However, as so often is the case, an unfortunate run out had Kobe dismissed for 12. This triggered a regular fall of wickets and the Demons were unable to lift the run rate, struggling to 8/164 at the compulsory close. Xander Buxton’s fine innings of 71 (7 x 4s and a six) continued a great season with the bat, both in the 2nd XI and U16s. An exciting future awaits as his batsmanship develops alongside his skill and array of shots.
Thanks to Glenn Hannah 2/33 (8) and Wilson McGillivray’s 3/21 (10) spirited bowling efforts, Melbourne had Footscray 4/57 and we were well in the game. You could sense that another pole or two would bend the game our way, however, a 78-run 5th wicket partnership by the Bulldogs thwarted the Demons’ press for victory and although taking two further wickets, Melbourne’s moderate score of 164 was not enough as Footscray hit the winnings runs in the 46th over. Congratulations to Footscray.
It was a commendable effort by our 2nd XI but the patchy batting that had plagued the side at times throughout the season again left them 20-30 runs short and a fighting effort with the ball was sadly not quite enough. In many respects, making the grand final was a terrific achievement after the side finished 6th at the end of the regular season and at one stage, had to fight back up the ladder from 11th. Successive wins in the final over of the quarter and semi finals spoke volumes for the team’s character and preparedness to fight – qualities that will stand them in good stead in the future.
Pepsi hangs up his hoops
Twos skipper and Cl
ub great Peter Petricola announced at the end of the game that this match was his last. His emotional address was full of the passion that has driven him over 20 seasons in Demons colours. His return of 460 runs @57.50 in 2020/21 showed that his skill and determination have not waned and he led from the front as a batsman and captain throughout.
Watching Pepsi busily but methodically construct his innings set a wonderful example to his younger teammates in terms of game awareness, risk management and how to effectively move up and down the gears. He was also a tremendous advocate for playing with skill, competitiveness, teamwork and passion: ‘the Melbourne way’. He played 334 Premier matches in total and scored more than 10,000 runs, including 14 centuries.
An international cricketer for Italy and multiple MCC premiership player, including the 1st XI triumph in 2009/10, Pepsi has been an enormously popular clubman. There was no better example of this than on Saturday night at the Albert when he put aside his own disappointment and emotional fatigue to deliver one of his now customary renditions of ‘The Demonetta’ as a tribute to the successful 4th XI players. It was a moment for all to cherish.
We will pay further tribute to Pepsi’s outstanding contribution later this week and he will be more formally acknowledged at the Club’s presentation evening. In the meantime, Felicity and Hugo will be pleased to spend more time with him.
3rd XI v Richmond
Melbourne won the toss and elected to bat but lost two wickets within a run to be 2/36 when Chris Anderson was joined by promising Vic. Country U17 captain Nick Pastras. The pair put on 55 for the 3rd wicket when Nick was out for a dominant 39 (5 x 4s). Chris, playing a very determined innings, was joined by Henry Brown and the 4th wicket partnership yielded 78, taking the score to 5/169. Henry supported his skipper with a well compiled 37 (4 x 4s). Wickets did tumble from this point with the Demons just batting out their overs - losing the final wicket on the last ball of the innings – all out for 221. Chris Anderson finished unbeaten on 83 (4 x 4s and a six) off 90 balls; a magnificent captain’s knock.
To say Richmond went on the front foot from the outset would be an understatement! They took on the Demons attack with aggression and dare. Whilst there were a number of half chances or ‘so close’ dismissals, Melbourne did not break through until the 20th over when Josh Ash trapped Jacob Hinds LBW for a swashbuckling 70 (66 balls, 9 x 4s) - the score 1/109. This was the only Tigers wicket to fall in their relentless push for victory.
Veteran seamer Phil Halbish, who so often has delivered a vital breakthrough, tweaked his ‘string as he strived for something extra.
“We needed something to happen so I charged in like a 24 year-old, instead of a 44 year-old,” he said.
The Tigers’ top order produced two further half centuries – Player of the Match Nick Cowling made 86 (120 balls, 7 x 4s) and James Dekel 58 (69 balls, 6 x 4s). Every time the Dees managed to claw their way back in the game, the batsmen found gaps through – and often over – the infield.
Richmond reached their target score of 222 in the 43rd over. It was an emphatic performance - congratulations to the Tigers. Josh Ash was Melbourne’s only wicket taker and finished with 1/38 (8) – tidy overs in the circumstances. Well done to Chris Anderson and the 3rd XI, who posted two great victories in the first two finals after finishing on top of the ladder.