Elaine Cricket Club have completed a historic “double” this season, winning the premiership in both Senior (One Day A Grade) and Junior (Under 14 2XI) grades. This represents the fifth premiership in four years for the small town of 300 people, punching well above its weight against the top clubs of Ballarat.
Year & Grade
Seniors – Final (3rd) Match Report:
Coming into the final match with a 1-1 scoreline, Elaine were forced to make one squad change, with Seamus Dunne replacing opening bowler Jayden Alexander (31 wickets for the year) who was forced to choose love (a wedding) over premiership success. This meant the remaining band of rag-tag bowlers would have to lift, to give us a chance at glory. Winning the toss and bowling first, Elaine made the best possible start, with John Leehane taking 2/0 in the opening over, via a sharp catch at cover by Nick Pantzidis, followed by an LBW.
Opening from the other end was 14 year old Nicholas Pantzidis. Lightly used throughout the season, ‘Chicka’ got the nod moments before play to fill the void, a boy against men. The next moment had to be seen to be believed. With his third ball, Nick pitched a good one outside off-stump, and the first-drop batsmen responsibly shouldered arms. Unfortunately, he didn’t count on a good 10 inches of inswing, and his off-peg was knocked out of the ground. The boys were ecstatic! 3/1 soon became 5/34 off 14 overs, via two cracking catches, by Tye Anderson in cover, then Brendan Gleeson behind the stumps, and Elaine was well in control. A solid fightback from Mt Clear saw them reach a final total of 9/145 off their 40 overs, a fantastic effort after such a horrific start. The score was on the board, and Elaine would still need to work hard for the win. John Leehane (4/25) put in his best bowling performance of the year, with Nick Pantzidis (2/28) and Cade Arnel (2/28) also making important contributions.
Elaine started their chase with confidence, getting to 1/15 after 5 overs, with Brendon Gleeson dismissed cheaply LBW for 6. Thereafter, Cade Arnel and Ben Miller set about slowly building the score, reaching 1/28 off 10 overs, and then accelerating to get to 2/82 at drinks. The equation was 64 runs required with 8 wickets in hand, at 3.1 per over. Luke McArthur posted a solid 21 runs, to get the score to 3/113 and result seemed inevitable. That was until Elaine decided to lose 3 more quick wickets in succession to be 6/133, with the highlight being Joel 'Noddy' McArthur dancing halfway down the pitch to a spinner and getting stumped. Calm heads were needed, as panic starting to set in amongst the Elaine faithful! 13 runs, 4 wickets. Nick Pantzidis joined Ben Miller at the crease and restored some sanity back into proceedings with calm strokeplay. The run chase was then completed in style, with a massive six hoicked over mid-wicket to seal the deal. Ben Miller (65*) contributed a crucial innings, steering the ship through to the end, with Cade Arnel (40) providing solid foundations from the start.
Elaine arguably had no business even being at this last dance, qualifying from 4th position after an up-and-down season, then being in massive trouble at 7/77 against the clear premiership favorites in the semi-final. But, to fight back multiple times from tough positions, especially from a 1-0 deficit in the Grand Final series to win 2-1, showed tremendous character from these Grand Final specialists – well done boys!