After a season where the Under 13’s finished on top of the ladder with 10 wins and 1 loss, and then easily accounting for Ferntree Gully in the Semi Final (3/188 v 4/96), it all came down to another Grand Final against Lysterfield, our nemesis of last year. In three previous encounters this season, we narrowly lost a one day game and then narrowly won two two-day games. With both sides packed with talented batsmen and bowlers, the game was always going to be a tight affair.
The start was unusually frenetic. After winning the toss and asking Lysterfield to bat, the score was 0/19 after 17 balls, totally uncharacteristic for our team who regularly limits opposing teams to scores of 50 runs off 20 overs. The game then changed for the first of many times. A dropped catch led to a run out and then two balls into the next over, a catch behind to Ben Marget off Ty Pugliese saw Lysterfield slump to 2/19 off 4 overs. The steady bowling of Ty, Mackenzie Dean, James Dekel and Bailey Deckert strangled Lysterfield’s scoring, with 6 maidens in succession and 41 consecutive dot balls. By the innings break, Lysterfield had crawled to 2/42 off 20 overs. It was our turn to bat and we pride ourselves on batting positively, with our season average off our first 20 overs being 1/84. With James Dekel not feeling well, Jackson Crawford joined Jay Wagner to fill in as our attacking opener. Both openers started cautiously and, with Lysterfield bowling tightly, runs were hard to come by. 6 runs off 6 overs…13 runs off 10 overs….27 runs off 17 overs. When it became a distinct possibility that we would finish our first 20 overs with a score lower than 42, Jay went on the offensive and hit 17 runs off the next 6 balls to retire on 31 not out. The loss of Jackson on the last over for 7 meant we finished Day One with a slim lead of 6 runs and a score of 1/48. Although it was good to be in front, this wasn’t how it was supposed to be…
The plan on Day Two was simple. With a long and talented batting list and two of our best batsmen at the crease (James Dekel and Ty Pugliese) , we wanted to score at 4 to 5 an over for the first 10 overs and then let loose for the last 10, aiming to get to a score of 150. While we didn’t lose a wicket in the first 10 overs, runs weren’t easy to come by either. At 78 we lost JD (12 runs), Ben Marget was then caught on the boundary for 2 trying lift the run rate and Ty quickly followed with the score on 90 for a well- constructed 23. 33 overs gone and we were nowhere near our target of 150. Mackenzie Dean (21no) and Alex Peacock (10no) then combined beautifully to add 37 off the last 7 overs to give us, for the first time in the game, some real ascendancy.
Lysterfield had to make 128 to win, or 85 runs off their final 20 overs - and they had the batsmen to do it. We had to suffocate their run scoring and put their batsmen under pressure. 8 runs off the first 4 overs was a good start…pressure building... and then the double strike! The ‘over’ that gave the boys belief and turned the screws on Lysterfield. Bailey Deckert knocked down two stumps to bowl Lysterfield’s captain before he removed their second highest run scorer for the year for a 4-ball duck. 4/50 became 5/59 when another one of Lysterfield’s danger batsmen was caught at slip by Alex Peacock off Ty’s offspinners. A run out from JD and Ben Marget, and then a great running backwards catch to JD off Mac Dean to remove the opposition’s big hitter meant Lysterfield had slumped to 7/79 and had to make 49 more runs off the last 7 overs. Funnily enough, that is exactly what they had to do in their semi-final win over Eildon Park. 12 runs off the 34th over didn’t help the nerves, especially with the knowledge that Lysterfield’s best batsman was waiting to come back in after earlier retiring. A run out to Jay and Ben on the 36th over and then a clean bowled to Aaron Williamson saw Lysterfield 9/96, needing an unlikely 32 runs off three overs in fading light. On the fifth ball of the 38th over, Lysterfield’s best batsman came down the wicket to lift Ty over the infield. This time he missed the ball and Benny Marget did the rest. Lysterfield all out for 101. Knox Gardens finally victorious on their third attempt in three years.
The boys did what premiers do – they ran, they screamed and they hugged in a tight huddle, happily knowing their year of outstanding cricket had, this time, paid off. It was a fantastic win in a game between two teams littered with classy 12 year olds. It was also a game played positively and with tremendous spirit and respect for the opposition and the game of cricket. Well done boys!