Under 14 (2) Premiership - 2017/18
U14 Div 3 Grand Final match report
It was a challenge for our second Under 14 team coming into the 2017/18 season. All were first year U14s, and the draw for the grading rounds did not do them any favours. Two of the first three matches were against teams that were not only graded into Division 2, but one of them won the division and the other came third.
Added to this, in the eight round competition for Division 3 the MVCC Whites were the only team in the top six not to have a bye. The first round of the regular season (round 4) was against Essendon CC. The Whites lost by just four runs but had only eight players on the field due to a school camp.
From this point onwards, the Whites had to win every game to make the finals. To their credit, the boys played every match as if it was an elimination final and did not lose a game between round 4 and the grand final. We finished fourth, but with the best percentage in the competition, the most number of runs for, the second least number of runs against, and the second most wickets taken.
And in the grand final they were to play Essendon CC away at Fairbairn Park – the last team to beat us, on their home ground.
Expectations were high on the first night of the grand final, 9 March. Our young men had a strong win against the top team Doutta Stars in the semi-finals and were ready to go for the grand final. It was a warm night and the sun was high when the Whites went out for the toss. Captain for the night Dejan Gileski called wrongly, but Essendon opted to bowl which is what Dejan wanted.
Above:Coach Peter Pickering stands proudly with our Premiership players: L-R: Back - Luca McMonagle, Thomas Kruspe, Thomas King, Nam Nguyen, Pranav Matha, Riley Walsh.Middle - Thomas Nightingale, Dejan Gilevski, Thomas Barnett, Harry Pickering. Front - Jesse Maljanek-Smith, Jakob Haskell.
With a lot of hope, Riley Walsh and Harry Pickering went out to bat. Disaster struck first ball, when Harry hit a short delivery straight to short mid-wicket. Out for a duck, and the Whites 1/0. At this point the coach was trying to decide whether to be consoling to his own son or sit in the car with his head in his hands.
Fortunately, this was the last wicket Essendon took for the evening. Riley held up an end, looking like he could bat until Christmas, while Nam Nguyen attacked from the other end. Nam was the No.1 batsman for the team this season, making 213 in the regular season and 53no in the semi-final, so it was critical that he stay in. He did more than that, hitting another 50no including eight 4s to put the team in a strong position. He retired a few overs before the end of the first half of the innings, Thomas Kruspe taking his place. Essendon only bowled 24 overs and the score at that stage was 1/89.
When the Whites were led on to the field by Dejan, along with vice-captains Harry and Riley, the coach emphasised that wickets were good but run restriction was better. With this in their minds, the team started with their most attacking bowlers – Dejan (fast), Jesse Maljanek-Smith (swing), Nam (pace and bounce) and Harry (off spin). All the fielders were on their toes to stop everything.
Essendon responded with defence worthy of a five day test. Jesse made the breakthrough with the first wicket, bowled in the fourth over, and Essendon was 1/1. The next 11 overs were attrition, with Essendon crawling to 1/23 from 14 overs, desperately trying to keep wickets intact and the Whites bowling as well as they had all season.
From the 15th over, realising time was running out and the light was starting to deteriorate, Essendon started to play shots, their two strongest players attacking the Whites’ medium pace bowlers and riding their luck. Still our bowlers kept a good line, in particular Riley bowling his unhittable swing deliveries for 0/7 from 4 overs.
At the end of Day 1, Essendon was 1/72 from 24 overs, but its two best batsmen were still in. The 17 runs the Whites were ahead would prove crucial.
The coach of the Whites again implored his team to keep a good line and length, knowing that Essendon would probably start carefully but then attack. This proved to be true for three overs with only 5 runs scored, with Thomas “TK” King (2 overs 0/2) opening the bowling with Harry. Then Thomas went down with a leg injury and Pranav Matha had to bowl the fourth over without warning or warm up. Essendon took the opportunity to go for the big hit and put on another 18 runs very quickly.
The team was torn between using their strike bowlers to try to restrict the runs like the previous week, or trying to get wickets. Even Jakob Haskell had a bowl and Luca McMonagle kept wicket. Nothing seemed to work, and the Essendon batsmen were able to retire on 53 and 51 not out. By this stage the score was looking ominous. Riley came back and picked up a wicket, caught by keeper Jakob, another batsman retired hurt, but still the score went up. Essendon 2/145 after 38.
Nam had another bowl and then the wickets started to fall: one bowled, Harry took a great catch when the ball was slogged straight at him at short mid-off, then a sensational one-handed catch by Jakob. To finish off, TK threw down the stumps at the bowlers end and Essendon finished on 6/180 from 46 overs.
Bowling: Dejan Gilevski 8 overs 0/20, Jesse Maljanek-Smith 7 overs 1/21, Nam Nguyen 7 overs 3/20, Harry Pickering 7 overs 0/28, Thomas King 2 overs 0/2, Riley Walsh 7 overs 1/17, Thomas Nightingale 2 overs 0/14, Thomas Barnett 1 over 0/8, Thomas Kruspe 1 over 0/11, Pranav Matha 1 over 0/18, Jakob Haskell 3 overs 0/13.
Catches: Harry 1, Jakob 2
Run outs: Thomas King 1
Could the Whites make another 92 runs to win? The first six overs were tortuous, with Essendon bowling straight and fast, Riley going caught early for 14 but Thomas Kruspe and Jakob holding ECC out. Jakob had not played the semi-final due to soccer commitments and looked tentative. Only 15 runs in six overs – Whites 2/104 after 31 overs, 15 overs to make 77 runs.
And then the dam broke, suddenly Thomas and Jakob started hitting boundaries – 11 runs in the 32nd over, 10 in the 34th over, 9 in the 37th. The target was getting closer and the run rate no longer five an over.
Jakob was caught in the 42nd over for 29 (3 fours), but by then the score was 3/165 and the team was up on its feet in excitement. Thomas Kruspe followed soon after for 48 (6 fours) with the score 4/171, and by then it was 10 to win.
Thomas “Nighties” Nightingale was sent out to hit the winning runs, but in the excitement of trying get bat on ball managed to run out his captain Dejan for 1, be dropped and then not connect with anything. Jesse came in to finish it off, but the runs wouldn’t come.
At last, Nighties smacked a four back over mid-on to win the match and the team ran on to the field to celebrate – MVCC Whites 4/181 with an over to spare.
Batting – Harry Pickering 0, Riley Walsh 14, Nam Nguyen 50 (ret), Thomas Kruspe 48, Jakob Haskell 29, Dejan Gilevski 1, Thomas Nightingale 4no, Jesse Maljanek-Smith 2 no.
Congratulations to the team on a fine season.
MVCC U14 Whites coach
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