Creak Shield QF: Parramatta 123 def. by SEJCA 8/125
A beautiful day and a welcome return home to Pioneers Park for our qualifying final against a strong Parramatta team. Captain Alex Greenhill won the toss and elected to field first.
Tim Molnar (1/13 off 4) and Aston Weir (3/18 off 5) opened up against Parramatta's well credentialed top order and started the day beautifully. Parra came out swinging, and although they got a few boundaries away early, we knew if we kept the ball in good areas, we'd take wickets. Tim grabbed the first, a brute of a ball finding the edge, with Ed Neal taking a fantastic catch at first slip. This brought the leading run scorer in the comp to the crease and he looked in ominous touch, smashing 2 boundaries, before Aston delivered an absolutely beauty, literally snapping the off-stump in half; a huge wicket.
Arlo Brazier (1/19 off 4) and Noah Gaussen (0/8 off 4) complemented each other perfectly, with Noah keeping the ball on a string, building pressure with tight, 4th stump lines (a lot of similarities to Glenn McGrath) while Arlo steamed in and attacked the stumps, picking up the vital wicket of the dangerous left hander (who'd hit 8 boundaries), thanks to another great catch from Ed, despite a scary collision with Tim which so easily could have ended in disaster!
Will Livissianis (4/29 off 8) started nervously but settled into a great rhythm, while Alex (1/15 off 5) was typically difficult to get away, taking the first wicket after drinks, castling the Parra no. 5. Will enticed a number of false shots, and was the beneficiary of some great high catching from the team, with Tim and Ed in particular, taking 2 fantastic running catches with loud and decisive calls. Ben van Dam (0/16) bowled a great (and unlucky) spell with good pace and a tight line. At 8/123, Aston came back into the attack with the task of finishing the innings off, which took 5 balls, capping off a fantastic display with the ball from himself and the entire team.
Our fielding however, in particular our ground fielding, left a lot to be desired. Our walking in and intensity in the infield wasn't good enough. At times there was no walking in, and when there was, boys were doing it with hands on their hips. The whole point of walking in is to get yourself in a powerful position, so you can move quickly to the ball. A number of us are flat-footed when the ball is being bowled, and therefore, slow to react when batsman take a single.
Like I said, it was a fantastic display from our bowlers on a lightning fast outfield, but if we can get our fielding right and take our run out opportunities and be totally committed to our ground fielding, then we'll produce an even better display than we did yesterday. Our keepers Ben van Dam and Angus Royal were stars again, only 2 byes in the entire innings (12 byes so far this season!).
After a great lunch put on by our amazing parents (led by Steph and Anthony), openers Alex (18 off 18) and Jaxon Heapes (16 off 37) went to work knocking off the runs and got us off to a near perfect start. Loose balls were put away for runs, and we were switched on with our running between wickets. At 0/33 off 8 overs, unfortunately Alex was caught on the crease and given LBW, while soon after, Jaxon got a ball that reared up and hit high on the bat, out caught and bowled. Oscar Wright (11 off 28) and Aston (14 off 16) were both cautious to start, but still managed to put away the loose balls and keep things moving. The longer these two were in, the better they looked and I honestly thought they'd both be there at the end. In almost identical fashion to Alex, Oscar's feet got stuck on the crease, out LBW, before Aston swung across a straight ball, castled. Peter Skalvos (8 off 6) came in and was in a hurry, smashing 2 beautiful boundaries before fishing outside off stump, caught behind. Ed Neal was unluckily given LBW. Tim (15 off 12) and Angus put together a handy partnership under all sorts of pressure, but the wickets kept falling. Tim deceived by a slower ball; Angus run out the ball after!! It was pressure we hadn't faced all season, and it looked like it was getting the better of us.
Will (12* off 11) and Arlo (6* off 3) came together; 2 wickets in hand and 22 runs needed and the tension at an all time high! Despite the tight nature of the situation, the boys kept their cool and played with good intent. Arlo knocking around a couple of singles, allowing Will to step up and play an amazing innings, hitting 3 boundaries off the back foot and taking the required runs from 22 to 3 in the space of 3 overs!! Parra introduced their leg spinner in an all or nothing play, bowling to Arlo; big mistake. Arlo smashing the ball through point for the win. What a partnership!! Maturity and composure beyond their years.
Congratulations to our boys, that was a tough win against a quality opposition and now, we're one win away from a grand final! There is still so much improvement in this group, if we can adjust our mindset in the field and have a few of our top order batsman go on with their starts, it doesn't matter who we're up against, the result will go our way.
Thanks again to Steph and Anthony, also to Chris and Jimmy for scoring.
Thanks also to Michael Furlong, Peter Bynres and Matt Anderson for coming down to support the boys throughout the day. Finally, thanks to Tom Gordon and Jack Garland, two of our reserves, who came down and supported their teammates. The boys and I really appreciate it!!
Watson Shield QF: SEJCA 4/259 Def. Sutherland 188