Twists and turns in Latrobe Valley cricket Semis





THEY get up occasionally the outsiders.

The team that finished 15 points clear on top, and the team that had won seven games in a row both got rolled in semi-finals of the Latrobe Valley District Cricket League A Grade.

Mirboo North and Traralgon West upstaged Centrals and Trafalgar respectively, paving the way for a truly extraordinary Grand Final qualification.

It doesn’t often happen, but it is this season: Third versus fourth playing in the Grand Final.

THEY are always close games between Traralgon West and Trafalgar.

This one just happened to be really close and there was a Grand Final spot on the line.

The Eagles capped off a mighty assentation to reach their first A Grade decider in two decades, holding off the Ships in truly pulsating fashion.

For Traralgon West, a moment to savour and be proud, as finally, after years of toil, they have now reached a stage they themselves may have only ever thought was fanciful at best.

More on that another time. For now, the game.

Trafalgar won the toss and elected to bat first at Moe Racecourse.

Presented with what looked to be 22 yards of concrete, the Ships soon made it look like 22 yards of wet cement as three of the top five made ducks.

At one stage, only people with the same given name but different spelling had got off the mark for Trafalgar (Aiden George and Aydan Connolly).

Trafalgar was in all sorts of trouble at 4/23, before Daniel Heathcote set about fixing the situation.

Heathcote got to 30, but was dismissed on the stroke of tea, bringing Liam Durkin to the crease.

Taking on a slightly different variation of his nightwatchman role, the now ‘teatime watchman’ batted either side of the break, going through a few partners in sessions three and four.

The Ships were nine down at stumps with 152 on the board. Durkin saw off 170 balls in his 30 not out. Trafalgar batted on, but only very briefly into Day 2, as the final wicket fell in the first over.

Ben Edebohls took a very well deserved five-fa, finishing with 5/25 off 26.5 overs. Rami Zafar also chipped in with 2/20.

As if that wasn’t enough, Edebohls then had to open the batting.

Talk about a true clubman.

Knowing they were under par, Trafalgar started brightly with the ball, and signs were looking ominous when a couple of wickets were claimed from balls shooting through low.

Eagles skipper Rob Wilkie weathered plenty of storms in his 36, partnering with Tim Fitch in a crucial 41-run stand for the fifth wicket.

His dismissal left the door open for the Ships, but they still had Fitch to deal with.

The left hander, batting without a hip essentially, bravely fought on, knocking the ball around and throwing his hands at the odd one to try and get a boundary away.

His determination was commendable, as you would expect anyone who has played with one club for the best part of 15 years and never made it to an A Grade Grand Final.

He wasn’t letting this opportunity go.

With Traralgon West needing 31 to win with four wickets in hand, there was another twist.

Fitch, having got to 42, was dismissed. Suddenly, the complexion of the match had changed. It was at that stage Trafalgar players went from thinking they might win to believing they could win the game.

As the runs were ticked down, the Ships were banking on a Traralgon West brain explosion late in the piece as the tail enders got together.

The Ships took the new ball at 80 overs, and struck immediately. 13 to win. Two wickets.

Surely not another twist.

Some lusty blows from number 10 bat Darcy Cooke tied the game, however, the game was far from over.

As Trafalgar was the higher ranked team, they would progress to the Grand Final in the event of a tie.

The Eagles had to win the game.

Sure enough, there was another twist.

Substitute fielder James Pace took a catch, meaning it came down to one wicket for Trafalgar and one run for Traralgon West.

Just imagine number 11 Adam Thow’s heartrate as he walked to the wicket.

In the end, the winning run was steered away by Reece Falla, who remained on four not out. They could well be the most important four runs he is ever going to make.

CENTRALS has to be cursed, there is no other explanation.

The Lions had another finals horror show, failing to chase 170.

Although there is something about Mirboo North and finals – they seem to always pull themselves out of losing positions. The Tigers were certainly in a losing position at Apex Park – they were 4/11, 5/24 and then 6/46.

A rescue effort from Jesse Van Rooyce got the side out of trouble, however, at 9/111, things were still looking troublesome for the Tigers.

Enter Max Woodall and Will Lawrey.

The pair put on 58 for the 10th wicket. Lawrey contributed 21 – his highest A Grade score for the season, and Woodall 58 – his highest score ever.

What a time to do it.

Youngster Woodall displayed great maturity, absorbing the pressure of a big final as if it was just another game.

Their efforts gave the visitors something to bowl at, but at stumps, the advantage still looked to be with the Lions, who needed 106 and still had seven wickets in the shed.

Rob Webber had contributed 32 of those runs, coming at a good clip of 49 balls.

Returning the next day, Centrals added 10 runs, before things well and truly fell apart.

Anton Thomas took three wickets within 15 runs, to see the Lions fall to 6/90.

Amazing how things work out. Thomas, who doesn’t even wear spikes, had plans to only play C Grade this season. He ended up bowling 27.5 overs in the rubbers for figures of 4/38.

With pressure mounting, it became too much for Centrals, who lost their last four wickets for 10 runs, to be all out for 105.

The result; first innings win to Mirboo North. The time; 30 or so overs to see out the day.

The Tigers did just that, ending with 76 on the board.

Zac Hollis scored 35 not out and skipper Jed Alexander 25 not out.

Another one for the ‘Mirboo North Mystery’.

They will write a book about Mirboo North’s almost supernatural ability when it comes to footy and cricket finals one day.