Students defeated in Cup final

Champs: Stratford won the inaugural Kookaburra Gippsland T20 Smash after defeating Traralgon and District club Ex Students. Pictured are Matt Dowsett, Rohan Diamond, Jack Tatterson, Jack Rietschel, Bohdi Walker, Nathan Whitford, Ethan Albrecht, (front) Nathan French, Ben Channing, Taylor Tatterson and Steve Bertino. photograph liam durkin



STRATFORD won the inaugural Kookaburra Gippsland T20 Smash competition on Sunday.
The Redbacks of the Sale-Maffra Cricket Association defeated Traralgon and District Cricket Association club Ex Students in the final by 10 runs at Traralgon Recreation Reserve.
Batting first, Stratford closed at 8/132 from its allotted 20 overs.
Jack Rietschel set a strong platform with 31 from 22 balls opening the batting, while Rohan Diamond scored a busy 41 from 34 balls.
Diamond, from Rosedale-Kilmany, was one of four ‘marquee’ players permitted to play for Stratford under competition rules.
The other three were Bundalaguah pair Matt Dowsett and Nathan Whitford, as well as Wy Yung’s Steve Bertino.
Ex Students welcomed John Keighran (Churchill), Liam Maynard (Morwell Tigers Yinnar Raiders), Ewan Williams (Rovers) and Sam Batson (Western Park) as its marquee players.
Williams took 3/13 for the Sharks.
In reply, Keighran and Lee Stockdale put on 59 for the first wicket, before Dowsett turned the game on its head with a double wicket strike.
Nathan French completed a stumping to see the back of Keighran, and then Batson was judged leg before wicket first ball.
The game changer however came from an incredible direct-hit run out from Diamond at mid-wicket that saw Stockdale short of his ground after he had made his way to 47 from 42 balls and looked to be the most crucial wicket for Stratford to take.
From there, the Redbacks were able to stay ahead of the game by forcing the Sharks to hit to fielders patrolling the fence.
Some great catching added to the Stratford performance, with Whitford taking a well judge grab on the long on boundary and Ben Channing holding onto a full blooded pull from Maynard at deep square leg.
Ex Students took the chase right to the last over, and sent a shiver down the spine of some in the Redbacks camp when the equation became 13 off three.
However, Stratford closed the game out and were able to secure the title.
Dowsett took 2/21 and Rietschel nabbed 2/24.
Whitford was named player of the match for his economical figures of 1/18 off four.
The Kookaburra Gippsland T20 Smash was instigated this season by Ex Students Cricket Club as an exciting new initiative to help fill the void of representative cricket following the cancellation of Country Week and the shortened Gippsland Cricket League season.
As well as Stratford and Ex Students, eight clubs from across Gippsland took part: Maffra, Collegians, Toongabbie, Morwell, Koonwarra/RSL and Leongatha Imperials.