Four months on from the Twenty20 Cup Grand Final the trophy sits in my room as an appropriate representation of a victory that will remain engrained in the memories of clubmen for many years to come. The cup itself – oversized, bronze in colour and arguably the most impressive of the MWCA trophies reflects the triumph perfectly: incredible but pretty much ridiculous. The tournament involved all the drama of a hattrick, injuries, rain and a super over; and this was all before the Grand Final even began. There is no doubt that a novel could be written on this saga, so forgive me if I struggle to condense this into a one page report. I must preface by stating my thoughts on Twenty20 and its place in park cricket. While this was one of the most amazing moments of my cricketing career, Twenty20 must continue to hold its place as the less significant, side tournament to the Saturday competition. The novelty and drama of Twenty20 is currently being managed in the best way – on the occasional Sunday throughout the season. There is still nothing that beats the purity of the longer form of the game.
The competition began with our only loss – and it was a disappointing and underwhelming one at that. The team had a strong mix of players from 5 different Plateau sides. Bowling first against our nemesis Wakehurst, we performed very well, getting them all out for only 98. The details of what followed will be kept to a minimum as we failed to chase down the target, finishing our 20 overs on 8/90 with only one batsman getting above 10. The third team in our pool, Belrose, withdrew, meaning that we had to win our second game against Cromer B in order to progress. Batting first we put on 132. This was the innings that 4th Grade’s Hamish Evans announced himself as a key hitter in the batting order, with a solid 25. Prolific run scorer Rob Minnett top scored with 35. We thought this was a good, but by no means comfortable total to defend. But another great bowling performance meant that Cromer were never really in it. Eventual player of the series Mick Mackin tore through the top order, claiming an excellent hattrick (4/11 off 4).
A dodgy draw put us back up against Wakehurst in the qualifying final. Yet again the bowlers did the job, restricting them to 113. Our innings was one hell of a roller coaster. At 4/42 we were in trouble, but Hamish steadied the ship and put us on course for victory. A late six from Nirav Patel put victory in our grasp but we were unable to get the final run. The stumps were taken for a run out on the last ball with the scores tied – it was super over time. Mick Trevaskis took the ball for the most important six deliveries of our campaign so far. He did a superlative job; the two Wakehurst batsmen only managed 8. We strapped ourselves in for our over, but the tension was relieved before anyone could draw breath after Hamish proceeded to blast the first ball for 6. A 4 down the ground to Nick Buxton sealed the super over victory in only 4 balls. This was the first time I was involved with a victory against this Wakehurst side and the knowledge that we had sent them out of the tournament made it all the more sweeter.
Drama wise the semi-final against Long Reef was relatively insignificant. I must be starting to sound like a broken record, but the bowlers were clinical again. We kept them to 9/115. After a bumpy start Ryan Malam came to the crease and, fuelled by absolutely no sleep the night before, blasted a half century. Nirav continued to build his 6 hitting reputation after he got us home with 2 overs to spare. The grand final would be against a decent Comer side.
Grand final plans were put into disarray when rain forced the match to be postponed to a week later. We lost economy extraordinaire Mick Trevaskis and Brendo to holiday commitments. Further rain the following week resulted in the game being moved, to the dismay of our bowlers, from a flooded Nolans 1 to the batting paradise of the Northern Beaches: Griffith Park. 2 nights prior to the game Brendo, in an unprecedented display of CPCC commitment, announced that he was going to do the unthinkable and fly in from his QLD holiday to play the game. The day itself was a beauty, and the local crowd rolled in and surrounded the impressive new CPCC marquee on the boundary. Cromer won the toss and chose to bat. Drama hit during the warm-up just before beginning the match. Pete Henriksen fractured his pinkie finger and was forced to spend the first part of the game on the sideline. The bowlers were strong again and Pete miraculously made his way back on and into the bowling attack to take a crucial 1/14 off 3. The total was looking meagre until the final over unfortunately went for 20. We needed 143 for victory, which we were confident of doing on the high scoring ground. Dan Schimek was the only top order batsman to fire, wickets fell all around him until Pete produced more heroics coming in a number 8. He persevered through his injury to support Schimek as he belted 66 off 40 balls. Pete was there right through the rest of the innings and had to watch dot balls from the other end squander our chances of victory. Scores were level on the final ball and the umpire’s finger went up for LBW, it was super over time yet again.
This time we would bat first. We were also notified that due to hitting more 6’s than Cromer a tie in the super over would hand us the win. Schimek picked up where he left off, sending the first ball over midwicket for 6. He fell the next ball, and after that we were only able to collect 3 more runs. So Cromer needed 10, or the trophy was ours. The big responsibility of bowling the crucial over was given to Nick Bonner, who had proven hard to get away during the main innings. Ball one was a wide. Ball two went for 4. Ball three a single and ball four another wide. Things were not looking good at this point; they needed 3 off 4. Nick then found his form and 2 dot balls followed. 3 off 2. Next ball Cromer succumbed to the pressure and we took a run out. 3 off the last ball required. Well, it would be 2 more balls because another wide was sent down! 2 off the last ball! The ball was good, the Cromer batsman managed to pick a gap in the infield and they had the first of their required runs comfortably completed. There was no chance of a second though as the throw came in to Minnett at keeper. Only the batsman from the non-strikers end had taken off for the second run, which meant when Rob took the stumps the game was still alive. Finally both the ball and the other batsman set off for the other wicket. Some cool, composed fielding followed, which was amazing considering the situation. And with the Cromer player only inches away from taking victory away from us the stumps were taken and the T20 Cup was ours! The Plateau dominant crowd erupted.
As I look back over what I have written I realise that it’s quite hard for words to do the scenes that occurred on that day justice. The crowd there would have to have been close to the biggest for a game of park cricket in the MWCA. And anyone who witnessed the match would know that they saw one of the most enthralling and ridiculous games of park cricket ever to grace the Northern Beaches. This was one for the history books. Full credit to everyone who played throughout the competition, everyone played a part and the team worked together fantastically as a unit. Brenden Ball, Nick Bonner, Nick Buxton, Blake Conde, Ryan Dunn, Hamish Evans, Pete Henriksen, Mick Mackin, Ryan Malam, Rob Minnett, Nirav Patel, Jeff Porter-Denning, Matt Richards, Cameron and Daniel Schimek, Mick Trevaskis, Kieran Wagstaff and me.
Cheers – Tom Carden