After a crucial win the week prior against Belgrave it was important that we kept the momentum going into yet another must win game against Johnson Park. with an unchanged lineup for just about the first time this season we won the toss and elected to have a bat on what was a perfect day for it. Shannon and Boof opened up and took the sting out of the Johnson Park tail early as the combined for a 40 run opening partnership before Shan was dismissed. that brought Shane i mean Scott McInerney to the crease. He and Boof worked hard to make sure we didn't lose consecutive wickets which has been a big focus of ours. they put on a 30 run partnership until boof was dismissed for a well made 42. The focus when I arrived at the crease was to make sure that we were no more then 2 down at Tea. whilst struggling to find the middle myself, Scotty continued to take 5+ off each over which put us in a really good position at tea. we continued to take to the bowling attack after tea before Scotty was dismissed for a very classy 76. Our Partnership was 109 which was crucial in setting up the middle to lower order to capitalise on the start. unfortunatly we had a mini collapse losing 3-20 in a short period of time. Zach played his most mature innings for the season ending up on 17 not out contributing to our 73 run partnership and also helping me get through a period where i was buggered. we ended the day at 6/286 from our 80 overs with myself finishing on 109*.
Day 2 couldn't have started any better with "Game 2 Drew" knocking out the openers off stump. That got the ball rolling early as WIlba went Bang Bang Bang leaving Johsnon Park at 4/13. That was our best start to a game with the ball we have had all year. Drew creating all the pressure with plenty of Maidens and Wilba Capitalising with some outstanding strike bowling. Johnson park consolidated after that . Throughout the rest of the day back to back wickets were hard to come by and the ball was tossed around constantly. In the end 286 was far too many runs for JP and we bowled them out for 223.The best of the bowerls were Wilba who finished with 20 overs 3/61. Drew with 7 over 1/5 and Daine played his role as the spinner with 17 overs 2/70.
all in all it was another fantastic win and back to back victories for the first time this season. This week we travel to Upwey in another must win match for the side but i know that we are all up for the fight and determined to finish off the season with 3 wins in a row.
2nd XI Round 11 v Johnson Park
Back at home with a finals spot locked away and up against bottom placed Johnson Park the players could have been forgiven if a little complacency kicked in. That was quickly put out of their minds as we hit the field to bowl with the first 28 balls of the day being dot balls. With this pressure came consistent wickets and not long after tea we had them 8/147 and then the complacency kicked in. To Johnson Park's credit they fought hard and finished the day on 9/239, Foxy Mulder 1/18 off 14, Big Lukey 3/34 off 16 & Jack 1/17 off 8 were the pick of the bowlers. Day 2 presented a good test chasing a decent total and it would required us to work hard and set ourselves to bat the day. As usual the old boys Morro and Rhys got off to a flyer bringing up another half century partnership before Rhys was dismissed in the 9th over for 63 with score 1/82. When Jezza was dismissed we were 2/104 and we still had plenty of overs in the bank, Jack joined Morro at the crease and they saw us through to tea with the score on 2/190 off 41 overs. The run feast continued after tea until Morro was dismissed for a brilliant 113 with him and Jack sharing a 134 run partnership. Lamby joined Jack and we passed Johnson Parks score shortly after, we decided to take the opportunity for some batting practice leading into the finals, Lamby and Jack put on 86 before Jack was dismissed for a very patient and classy 111 his first Senior ton and we believe the first player to make a junior and senior ton in the same season for the club. Lamby ended up with 34, Youngy a quick fire 20 and the big Giraffe with another duck saw us pull up stumps after 76 overs with score on 9/357. Another solid win by the boys our 5th on the trot sees us gaining some real momentum going into finals with one last hit out against Upwey this week before we hit the business end of the season.
Playing the top side Waverley Wanderers for our third game in a row on the bottom oval we lost the toss and were asked to field on a warm day with a very quick outfield. The Wanderers have been scoring heavily this season so it was going to be a test. The Wanderers saw out the opening bowlers before first change bowler Nibby Jongen struck with his fourth ball removing the opener with a bouncer top edged to T Pug who took a great catch at fine leg. From 1/43 there was no joy for another 190 odd runs with Stillman and Fisher both scoring heavily and quickly. We tried numerous bowling changes and bowling types, varying fields etc but all to no avail. We were up against it at 1/212 at tea and only 35 overs bowled.
Soon after the tea break Varun claimed the key wicket removing centurion Leigh Fisher and this was the start of an excellent comeback from the lads. Nibby struck soon after removing the skippers off stump 3/227. We were still behind the game and Stillman was still at the crease and with Varun broken down and unable to bowl or field we still had some serious work to do. Enter Devo’s second spell where he bowled 12 overs straight and went through the Wanderers middle and lower order to finish with a magnificent 5/48 off 16. He was ably supported by Nibby who bowled very consistently for the second game in row and finished with 2/51. Young Ty Pugliese also bowled exceptionally well after tea with his left arm offies and showed great consistent control for such a young bowler. Ty claimed a much deserved wicket at the end. So the Wanderers eventually finished 9/329 which from 1/212 with 40 overs remaining was an exceptional result.
Batting on a cooler day on day 2 but with an equally quick outfield and needing 4.4 an over from our 75 we lost Pottsy early. But from 1/16 Benny and Dos put on a brilliant 96 run partnership in good time to see us well in the game when Benny eventually fell for a fine 55 and welcome return to form. Dos continued on his merry way before he was out just before tea for 61. He was very unlucky to be out to an extremely sharp catch at short mid-wicket. Jason and Sam came and went but at tea we were in with a chance at 5/150 needing 5 an over for the remainder of our overs. Unfortunately there is not much good news to report after tea as we lost wickets steadily to be all out for 208 in the 57th over. Monty showed some good signs in his return after a shoulder injury but again our batting fell way badly in the middle to lower order.
We take on Lysterfield in a one dayer to round the year out and look forward to an improved performance in that game and to finish the season on a high.
In an unexpectedly tough night at the selection table, there were numerous changes to the 4s team from the previous round. Changes were made to accommodate injuries and absences in the higher grades, help the 3s out with more genuine bowling options and to bolster the 4s batting lineup weakened by a knee injury to Lach. The end result was Varun earning a deserved recall to the 3s where he was joined by Devo and Ty who were rewarded for their efforts in the 4s over the past few rounds. Despite Thommo and Scotty joining the 4s, it was looking like we were only going to have 10 players in week 1 until Grass put his hand up to play as a batsman only.
We were playing Eildon Park who were 5th and needing to win to keep their finals hopes alive. We lost the toss and were asked to field first on a pitch that was like sandpaper on the ball and an outfield that was equally as harsh. EP went hard early with their captain in particular jumping on anything offering him a bit of room with the other opener losing his wicket to a sharp Grega catch off Juzzy (1/48 off 7 overs) and the captain being the 2nd wicket after a mishit off Spencer (2/130 off 22). With the energy and talk in the field almost non-existent as EP scored at 6 per over, the team copped a bit of a spray from the captain as we gathered together after taking the wicket. To the team’s credit, there was a noticeable lift in the field with more talk and energy resulting in a great runout to a diving stop by Thommo who threw the ball to Benny from where he had landed. At the end of 35, we had dragged them back to 3/185 having conceded only 55 runs from the last 13 overs.
Continuing the trend of a different opening combination in each game, Chris and Grega strode to the crease with the aim of getting to the mid-innings break no more than 2-3 wickets down and within range of EP’s score, allowing for the batting depth in week 2 to accelerate past them. Chris and Grega put on a steady 38 before Chris departed for 17. As Brent was on a footy camp and Scotty was nursing an adductor strain suffered in the field, the no. 3 position was handed to Grass. Together Grass and Grega pushed the score to 81 off 19 when Grega was out for a well-made and relatively aggressive 26. Tony joined Grass and they saw us through to 2/158 off 35 with Grass on 72 and Tony on 17, still 27 runs behind but well within our range.
Before we went into the field for the 2nd week, we spoke about this being our 4th day straight on the unforgiving wicket and outfield at Stud Park Reserve and with EP only 3 wickets down, we knew it was going to be a tough session. Regardless of that, we were going to remain upbeat, maintain high positive energy levels and keep things tight with plenty of ‘dot ball’ pressure on the batsmen. Nikhil fresh from his 4/15 in u16s that morning bowled brilliantly from the start and was rewarded with a wicket as his straight ball that cut in from outside off (aka an off-cutter) crashed into the stumps as the batsmen left one ball too many. Keeping it tight, Nikhil bowled 6 overs for 1/10 that set the standard for all bowlers to follow. Thommo had a plumb LBW appeal turned down with the EP batsman who had resumed on 64 reaching his 100 off the very next ball. This was followed by another wicket that left EP at 5 (effectively 6) for 245 from 50. From then on, the EP batsmen rode their luck with swings & misses, mishits and catches going close but not close enough that got them to 5/310 off 65 overs. Having wickets in hand with 5 overs left, EP started hitting out and running on anything. Apprehensively throwing the ball to Scotty due to concerns it may aggravate his adductor injury, he bowled well to pick up 3 late wickets. EP finished on 9/354, an imposing total.
EPCC 9/354 – Scotty 3/38, Chris 1/27; GB 1/31; Nikhil 1/38; Spencer 1/51; Juzzy 1/67
While EP amassed a huge total of 354, the fielding and bowling effort could not be faulted under the trying and uncompromising conditions that this ground provided. As we walked from the ground, we spoke about the fact that they had built their innings progressively and scored runs from a combination of luck and benign bowling conditions but still only scored at 5 runs per over. With the strength in our batting stocks, we just had to be patient and not panic as 196 from 35 overs was only around 5.5 runs per over and we had batsmen more than capable of scoring at least that quickly.
Resuming the run chase with Tony at the other end, Grass picked up where he left off with a beautiful punch through cover-point for 4 from the 1st ball he faced. Tony was unlucky to chop on for 24 after a 103 run partnership with Grass. Thommo came in and rode his luck early but soon found his range with his brute power testing the patience of the EP bowlers, fielders and captain. Grass reached his maiden 100 for a well-deserved reward after his responsible innings on a pitch that provided some risk of variable bounce put us into a position from which we could see the finish line. Thommo who had made 40 of the 60 odd runs he and Grass had put on together then went into overdrive as he was joined by Scotty and then Brent batting in an unfamiliar position at no. 7.
Thommo was unfortunately bowled on 96, just missing a deserving century but, as it turned out there was a scoring error with a 4 entered against Scotty that should have been recorded against Thommo so the record will show that he did in fact score that much deserved century with the unfortunate consequence of an ‘out’ rather than a ‘retired not out’. While Thommo was at the crease, the score went from 3/184 off 40 to 5/327 off 59 – 143 runs from 19 overs at 7.5 runs per over that saw us needing a further 27 runs from 11 overs.
Brent who was playing what I believe to be his best innings of the season in which he had already scored 270 runs, stayed strong to the end with 42no and hit the winning runs as we reached 6/359 off 66 overs.
KGCC 6/359 – Grass 100rtno; Thommo 100; Brent 42no; Grega 26; Tony 24
An incredible run chase with all batsmen showing patience and composure in a game that saw 3 centuries and over 700 runs scored. The past 3 rounds, however, has shown that we have a long way to go with our bowling and fielding as it has lacked consistency and penetration and we drop our heads too easily when things aren’t going our way. This has to be rectified with some solid training sessions in the next couple of weeks.
I told the players that we can enjoy the win and the fact that this secures us a spot in the top 4 but we then need to switch on and focus on next Saturday’s game with the prospect of a home final hanging on a win.
Great wins from 3 teams and a fighting effort from the 3s showing that the great Gardens spirit appears to be back. Go Gardens!