History-making premiership for CATS

Triumph: The CATS team celebrates after winning the Latrobe Valley District Cricket League Premier A Grade title. The win capped a remarkable 12 months for the club, which won the A Grade premiership this time last year. photograph supplied


CATS upstaged Churchill to win the Latrobe Valley and District Cricket League Premier A Grade grand final.
The team from Traralgon South made it back-to-back flags with a comprehensive 131-run victory at Ted Summerton Reserve, Moe.
The win capped off a comprehensive 12 months for CATS, who gained promotion from A Grade last season.
Going into the decider underdogs against a Churchill side who had won eight games leading
in, CATS put it all together on the big stage to walk away with the flag.
After just scrapping into the final by four runs the week prior, the question of ‘have CATS already played their grand final?’ lingered in the lead-up.
These doubts evaporated as the Churchill innings unravelled later in the day, but before then, CATS put up 8/225 after winning the toss and electing to have a hit.
Churchill made a decent start, with Ryan Harvey dismissing Tinashe Panyangara cheaply, which brought Nathan Harrup to the crease.
Harrup, who came of age in last season’s grand final with a mature 77, showed his big-game
temperament, scoring 80 off 118 balls.
He combined with Jamie Cochrane, who made 69 off 95 balls in a 109-run partnership for the second wicket.
The Cobras wrestled some momentum back, and had CATS 4/170 with nine overs to go.
The CATS lower order was able to scratch out a few runs towards the end, and took the score past the 220 mark. With 250 generally par at Ted Summerton, Churchill would have been pleased with their efforts.
John Keighran led the bowling effort, taking 5/34 from 10 overs.
Going out to chase, the Cobras had reason to believe, however, no one in their right mind could have imagined what was to unfold.
Panyangara got the ball rolling for CATS, and had the scoreboard reading the ‘Richie Benaud’ 2/22.
After that, wickets tumbled, and by the eighth over the Cobras were 4/25.
CATS captain Ben Julin came to the fore, taking the two key wickets of Brendan Mason and
Keighran, reducing Churchill to 8/63.
From there, it was only a matter of time before CATS was toasting victory, and it was Panyangara who sealed the deal, taking the last two wickets to complete a five wicket haul and see the Cobras routed for just 94.
The Zimbabwean ace was undeniable, taking 5/17 from 6.5 overs.
Julin played a tremendous captain’s game, and finished with 4/23 off nine overs.
In a season where runs flowed continuously at Ted Summerton, to see a side dismissed for under 100 was indeed extraordinary.
Panyangara was named man-of-the-match.
The cruelty of cricket was possibly best summed up by the fact CATS only won five games during the regular season – the same amount as Latrobe, who missed the finals series
By contrast, Churchill finished the regular season 10 points clear on top of the ladder, and won 12 of 15 games.
Perhaps therein lies the lesson: The best side doesn’t win, the best side on grand final day wins.