Finals Cricket Report –Sat & Sun 18-19 March 2023

1st Grade QF v Sydney Uni
3rd Grade QF v Penrith
Metro SF v St George

1st Grade Qualifying Final: Randwick Petersham 6/189 def Sydney University 185
Two sixes to finish! That’s the way to win an important cricket match! And that’s how it ended at University Oval today on the second day of the 1st Grade Qualifying Final against minor premiers Sydney University. Needing 9 runs to win, 6 wickets down and after a day of extreme tension and heat, Randwick Petersham’s under 21 Poidevin-Gray premiership captain, Ben Mitchell, straight drove the third and sixth ball of the final over on to the hill at the northern end of the oval for six! Final scores were Randwick Petersham 6-189 to Sydney University 185. The win puts Randwick Petersham into the semi-finals next weekend. And while those scores indicate a clear cut victory by 4 wickets, that was far from the case the way the match was played.
On Day 1 Sydney University were bowled out for a below-par total of 185. At stumps, the Randy Petes were 2-65 in reply with Jason Sangha on 18 and nightwatchman, Jackson Gwynne, on nought. Both clubs have been arch-rivals in 1st Grade for many years having previously met in 9 finals in various competitions with Uni. winning 6. Accordingly, a tough day at the office was expected and that’s the way it turned out.

The day’s play was a battle in three parts. The first part saw Randwick Petersham take their score to 2-123 after almost 2 hours with Sangha making a brilliant 57 assisted by Gwynne, who was a real surprise packet, getting to 15 and showing all bowlers the broadest of bats. But the second part belonged to Uni. as they took 4-14, forcing the score to slump to 6-138. Both Sangha and Gwynne were gone at 123 while Anthony Sams went the same way as Sangha, lbw to Devlin Malone, for 4. Next man in, skipper Daya Singh went for a rare duck when caught of a full-blooded pull. It was game on.
That brought Riley Ayre and Ben Mitchell together on the stroke of lunch. Mitchell patted back a few then lofted one over the fence in front of the grandstand to open his account as sandwiches were being served.
The after-lunch session was the third part and totally belonged to the challengers. Both Ayre and Mitchell batted with the responsibility of veterans. No boundaries were hit. It was all safety-first against some very tight bowling and fielding despite Uni. being hampered by the loss of opening bowler Hayden Kerr, who broke down after one over. Ones and 2s were the order of the day. Gradually the target crept closer. But with wily spinner Malone in his 36th over, it was time for Mitchell to go. And go he did with two colossal strikes to end the match. He finished with 37* and Riley Ayre 22*. The pair had put on an unconquered 52 for the 7th wicket.

3rd Grade Qualifying Final: Randwick Petersham 156 def by Penrith 6/157

3rd Grade arrived at Coogee Oval for our first finals game in a number of years after finishing Minor Premiers in 2022/23 and tasked with taking on Penrith. After losing the toss and being asked to bat, we lost a few quick wickets within the first 10 overs but consolidated well in the opening session, only to lose two more quick wickets on the stroke of lunch. Another wicket straight after lunch left us on the back foot at 5-61 before Tom Holland (25) and Ben Tracey (31) consolidated to take the score to 107. Another clump of wickets followed until the last pair of James Apostolakis (21) and Dane Coombs (6*) put on 28 to take us to 156 all out after 74.2 overs. A much lower total than we wanted, and well below par on a wicket that was flatenning out nicely and prime for batting.
With 19 overs to bowl at the end of Day 1, a wicket to James Apostolakis (1-22 off 14) started us off, and with a few edges falling just short of the slips and a few missed run outs we finished up Day 1 with Penrith 1-26.
We started well on Day 2, applying pressure with tight bowling; however our ground fielding at times alleviated this pressure from misfields and overthrows and Penrith’s aerial shots falling just wide or short of the fielders. Ben Tracey (1-39 off 17) broke their second wicket partnership, and a slick run out from Dave Dubey after lunch gave us the opening we needed. Some late wickets courtesy of Aman Rao (3-30 off 13) gave us a sniff towards the end, but Penrith passed our total 6 down after 75.1 overs. In the end, our batting let us down as we failed to post a large enough total to allow us to defend on a flat Coogee wicket. A much improved effort is needed this weekend.
Special mention to Gavin, Dana and Rory Steinberg for giving up their weekend to live score and operate the electronic scoreboard at Coogee for us across both days. Also, to Stanley Beale who came down to help out with the canteen and drinks throughout both days. These volunteer’s help was invaluable and very much appreciated by all at the game. I cannot thank them enough!
Roll on the Semi-Final.

Metro Semi-Final: Randwick Petersham 159 def St George 91

Gold arrived ready and raring to go at the picturesque Petersham Oval to face St George whom we defeated at Snape earlier in the season. With warm ups completed the skipper Jeremy Jastrzab won the toss and elected to bat with the intention to post runs on the board in the final.

But on a good batting strip Gold were in early trouble as Rishahb Goyal chased a wide one early to leave the team 1-0 off the first over. With poor shot selections from the top order we limped our way through the first session to be teetering at 5-60 with Ryan Rajesh (25), falling to a sharp caught behind, showing real resistance. While at the other end Archie Robinson (34) played a composed and mature innings to begin denting the Saint’s bowlers confidence. As the tail began to resist, and then wag furiously, the magical 100 mark was passed. Sriram Suresh (28) carried on where Robinson let off taking the long handle in a counter attack while Jastrzab and Zac Narayan increased the pressure with sharp running and good shot selection. When Jastrzab fell the Golds had runs on the board with 159.

Tensions simmered through a tense afternoon, as the 14 remaining overs saw a wicket fall, plenty of chances created and only 27 runs knocked off the target.

Waking up the next morning, the team was greeted with an uncannily thick fog on their way to the ground, which managed to burn off just as teams were coming on the field. But tensions remained thick, as only 4 runs were scrambled in the first 4 overs, as openers Ben Thomas and Zack Narayan challenged the batters consistently. Then on the second ball of the 5th morning over, the St George number three thought he left a ball outside off… which if only by divine providence, violently jagged back off the seam to take the off stump, and lead to an almost surreal passage of play. In the next over, Zack (2/33) finally got an inswinger to veer past the opener’s inside edge for a plumb LBW, before the dragon’s wings were really clipped in Ben’s next over, with enigmatic slinger clean-bowling the next two batters to complete a spell of 4/0 in 3 overs. At 5/31, all of a sudden, the target of 160 seemed that much further away.

With their best batsman at the crease, the dragons still maintained some semblance of hope… but at 5/50 St George were well and truly grounded just as penguins learned to fly – with E-Young ‘Pingu’ Khoo soaring through the sky at gully to pluck what was without a doubt, the catch of the season. Not content with just contributing in the field, Pingu (2/6) spun a web of mystery and the dragons were on the mat at 8/54. The lower order swung, ran themselves out and upon returning after lunch, Ben Thomas (4/15) completed his best figures for the club with a caught to complete the 1st innings at 91. Without enough time to force a second innings result and the heat scorching the middle of the day, and Gold were granted passage into their first Grand Final appearance since 2015/16.

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