Roo heartbreak as Pies win thriller
Monday, 4th March, 2019
By Tyler Hannigan
The South Broken Hill Cricket Club’s fairytale season was ended on Saturday as Central’s big name players led them to a tense four-run win in the A Grade semi-final.
The Magpies won the toss and batted first on a great Alma wicket and despite losing Damon Pettitt (4) early, made a fantastic start through Tristen Smith and Adam Rhodes who came in at number three.
Smith found the boundary regularly as he moved into the 30’s but was eventually trapped leg before wicket by Sheldon Hall for 34 off 30 deliveries.
With Jarred Paull now joining Rhodes at the crease, this was the partnership for Central if they were to post a winning score.
Paull has enjoyed a fantastic season with the bat including scores of 112 and 74 and has a knack of scoring runs when it matters most in finals while Rhodes is a very dangerous batsman capable of taking a game away in a matter of overs and has a top score of 59 this season.
The pair were fairly circumspect as they set about building a platform. They added 82 runs in 20 overs before Matt Reavill made an important breakthrough by dismissing Rhodes for 45 off 62 balls.
The game was delicately poised as teams took the final drinks break with Central on 3-136 and 10 overs left to bat. If South could limit the damage and keep Central under 200 then they were well in this game but they needed Paull’s wicket if that was to happen.
Central’s scoring rate began to increase as Riley Elvery (8) and Scott Mateer (3) offered some support to Paull but even at 4-161 after 35 overs, things weren’t out of control for South. Mateer then fell in the 36th over as Paull and new batsman Luke Neal really put the foot down.
45 runs came from the final five overs as Paull took full toll on a tired South bowling attack. He passed 50 and eventually finished unbeaten on 72 from 104 balls including nine fours and one six while Neal added 11 runs of his own.
None of South’s bowlers could find any sustained success with Hall the only multiple wicket taker with 2-25 off four overs. Nathan Waterhouse and Reavill were the other wicket takers while Laurence Hebbard was his usual miserly self to finish with 0-22 off his eight overs.
Chasing such a large target in a cut-throat final, South needed a good start and they got that in spades from new opening pair Paul Nicholas and Ryan Gillespie. The pair had struggled for form lately but remain classy players and showed that on Saturday.
Nicholas dominated the partnership early and was particularly strong down the ground. Gillespie took 25 balls to score his first run but eventually got going and was helped by taking 24 off the 10th over, bowled by Smith.
At 0-78 in the 13th over, Gillespie was the first South batsman to go as he top edged a catch to Mateer off Central skipper Dave O’Mally for 35 off 47 balls. Nicholas lasted for another 13 runs before he too was dismissed for 35 from 44 deliveries.
Those wickets brought South’s two top run scorers together at the crease in Reavill and Hall (14) and they looked untroubled as they moved the score 112. However, with drinks looming, Hall lost concentration and offered a sharp return catch to Adam Armstrong which he took in spectacular fashion.
Arlen Bird (0) was gone quickly but Reavill found support from Jack Simpson and the pair kept the runs ticking over. The third and final drinks break came with South starting to take control at 4-155, requiring a further 52 runs from the last 10 overs to win.
Central weren’t done though and made a huge double strike to turn the game in the favour as Paull removed Simpson for 14 and Luke Neal struck the following over to send Reavill back to the sheds for a well-made 36 off 43 balls.
South captain Ben Franklyn (0) was out shortly after as the Magpies tightened the screws and allowed just 14 runs in the seven overs since drinks. Needing 38 off 18 balls, Nathan Gageler (14 not out) and last weekend’s hero Alex Page (23 not out) needed something special to get South through to a grand final.
They began well by taking 13 off the 38th over and then another 14 off the 39th as Central made the bizarre decision to remove Paull, who had taken 1-10 off four overs, from the bowling attack. That left South requiring 11 runs from the last over to win.
Michael Maalste was tasked with delivering that final over and did so with composure, beating the bat multiple times. Gageler was able to find the boundary off the last ball but it was too little too late for the Roos as they fell to a heartbreaking four-run defeat.
Neal (2-38) was the only multiple wicket taker for Central while Maalste, O’Mally, Paull, Armstrong and Mateer took one apiece.
The Magpies progress onto yet another grand final, showing there is still life left in the team that struggled throughout the season but remained dangerous due to the quality players they still had in their ranks. They’ll take on North next Saturday at the Alma.
For South it’s a tough way to end what has been a fantastic A Grade season for the club. Nine wins from 13 games is the best return for the side in almost two decades and they should be remarkably proud of their turnaround in form but their task now is to show that 2018/19 wasn’t just a fluke and to come back just as good if not better next season.
Central 5 for 206 (J. Paull 72*, A. Rhodes 45, T. Smith 34; S. Hall 2-25) def South 7 for 202 (M. Reavill 36, P. Nicholas 35, R. Gillespie 35, A. Page 23*; L. Neal 2-38) by four runs.