B Grade Muddies Pip Punjabi /Newsport
Wednesday March 19 2014
By Ben Vikionkorpi
In a hard fought battle on Saturday and Sunday, the B Grade Muddies narrowly beat Mulgrave Punjabi 137 - 134 in the first innings, only to see Punjabi pack up and leave early after a second innings collapse.
Boasting the best bowling attack in the competition, the Muddies bowled first against a traditionally weak Punjabi batting line up.
The soft topped pitch saw the Muddies with visions of a handful of early wickets; when Dave Johnson took the number two batsman’s stumps with the score on five, the Muddies vision was seemingly coming to fruition.
This was to be short lived, with Punjabi digging in deep, showing patience and control not seen all year.
When Punjabi’s top scorer was put down on two occasions, the Muddies lost momentum, and found wickets hard to come by.
It wasn’t until the sixth bowler for the day, 16-year old Hayden D’Addona joined the attack, snared an LBW, that the 2nd wicket fell.
It was around this time the Punjabi captain got confirmation from Cricket Far North that one of his named players was ineligible to play finals cricket, as he hadn’t played enough regular season games (even though their named 12th man had).
Punjabi was now down to ten batsmen, effectively giving the Muddies another wicket.
This simple error by the captain would have a major impact on the game.
In the two hours after lunch, Dave Johnson and Adam 'Grumpy Man' Lucas picked up wickets to have Mulgrave six down at the tea break.
Wanting to finish them off, Nathan ‘Darwin’ Taig’s tempting off spin provided Simeon with a self-preservation catch to have the Punjab captain out.
A frustrating 34 runs was put on for the eighth wicket, until Luco’s fiery short balls finally find their mark gifting Ben Gaske a catch.
Luco then quickly put an end to the Punjab innings with a perfect yorker, giving him his first five wicket haul for the season; Punjabi all out for 134.
The opening pair of Ben Gaske and Simeon Migliorenza started the chase in comfort, turning the strike over at will.
Ben's new found confidence in identifying his previous weakness turned out to be his undoing, slashing a cut shot in the third over which found the edge and carried to slip; at least it wasn’t LBW again.
Knowing the outfield was still slow and runs hard to come by, the Muddies plan was to spend time in the middle and let the runs come.
However, a rush of blood by Darwin saw him caught at square leg for eight and the score at 2/22.
The following batsmen were all sticking to plan, but Hayden was given LBW, and was soon followed by Simeon after popping a catch to square leg off a full toss, just trying to work it round the corner.
Normally he would have pumped his Popeye biceps and it smashed to the boundary.
With only two overs left in the day, Dan Harris and Ethan McCullough were looking to close it out.
However, Dan smashed a catch opportunity straight back to the bowler only for him to miss the catch, but get a fingertip to it, which ricocheted back onto the stumps where it found Ethan short of his ground backing up for the run.
Ethan was out for a duck in the most horrible ways imaginable to get out.
Benny Vik joined Dan at the crease and they managed to close out play on day one at 5 – 50, needing another 84 runs to tie the game and potentially gain a place in the grand final.
Resuming on Sunday, Dan and Ben set about the task with sensible batting and composure and a few nerves.
The Punjabi contingent was noticeably smaller on day two, with two of their players not turning up at the ground, unhappy with not being able to bat or bowl because of the eligibility rule, they had packed up and returned to Cairns.
Punjabi were now down to 10 fielders.
Ben and Dan’s partnership extended to 23 runs before Dan found a leading edge, skying the ball to be caught out to a well-judged catch.
Buckets quickly joined Dan back in the stands after being roughly judged LBW for the first time in his life and Muddies at 7/73, still needing another 61 to tie, with only three wickets left.
Luco then joined Ben V and both batters focused on reducing the deficit. Patiently working the ball around, Ben and Luco looked set to get the score, until Ben lost concentration and played across the line on a straight ball to be bowled with the score on 99.
Kaiden joined Luco with 35 more runs still needed. Things got even grimmer when Luco was out for 25, leaving the last batting pair of Dave Johnson and Kaiden Sorensen the task of making 26 runs to tie the game.
With everyone at the ground on knife’s edge, Kaiden and Dave showed immaculate patience, heart and determination to slowly grind the score away.
Both batsmen still had the confidence to put the bad ball away for four though, to the rapturous applause of the onlookers.
With chain smoking, nail biting and all sorts of nervous fidgeting happening, the margin was being slowly reduced.
After batting together for 14 overs, they finally managed to get the score to 130. The next three overs were a mix of shear hell and excitement, but when the tying run was scored, jubilant celebrations were had on the sidelines.
Wanting to get the runs ahead though, Dave and Kaiden waited until the next over when they ticked the score over to 135 before they had their mid-pitch celebration.
With the pressure off, they looked to score more runs, but with their concentration lapsing, Kaiden facing 87 balls, and Dave making a new high score, Kaiden was removed with the score on 137 – a three run lead for the Muddies.
The Muddies batted for 80 overs, with the 10th wicket lasting for 20 of those overs.
The Muddies now brimming with confidence, looked to take early wickets again.
This time, they knew that the only way for Punjabi to now make the Grand-Final was to win outright, they were prepared for a batting onslaught, which means more wicket chances.
Ready to take those chances, Hayden D’Addona snaffled a sharp chance just centimetres off the ground, to remove the first innings top scorer for a duck off DJ’s bowling.
The batsmen refused to leave, believing the ball had hit the ground, but was sent off anyway.
Second over in, the Punjabi batsmen charged Luco and smoked him clean over mid-offs head, only for Benny V to call on his Gorilla powers and leap up and pluck the ball from mid-air, sending his left hand flying back with the impact.
The Punjabi batsman stood there in shock, not believing what he just saw, and now had to watch the exhilarating ruckus by the Muddies.
Davey wanted another piece of the action and picked up the edge that provided Ethan with his first catch in many matches, Punjabi left scrambling at 3 / 3.
Luco then picked up another wicket with his fiery short balls giving NT a catch, leaving the Punjab’s reeling at 4/9.
Instead of seeing quick scoring, the next six overs produced just seven runs.
Heading off the field for tea, the Punjabi Captain entered the field, proceeded to say no-one could win from here and wanted to call the game.
Instead of fighting to the death, Punjabi packed it in and ended the game, gifting the Muddies a Grand-Final berth.
It was a disappointing end for the Muddies, who were looking forward to pressing the advantage, but it meant they could rest up spend some quality team time together in preparation for the grand final.
The B Muddies now take on first placed Tully in a 400 over contest over two weekends starting Saturday at field two, Griffiths Park in Cairns.