WOODEN-spooners one season, premiers the next.
As unlikely as it seems, that’s the turnaround Emu Creek yesterday completed when it defeated Mandurang by four wickets in the Emu Valley Cricket Association grand final at Maiden Gully’s Evolution Oval to end a 25-year premiership drought.
Twelve months after finishing on the bottom of the ladder, the Emus yesterday chased down Mandurang’s 236, replying with 6-238 and winning with 20 balls to spare.
“I don’t know what to say... it’s just unbelievable,” said Emu Creek captain Daniel Chamberlain, one of five new recruits this season who played in the premiership side.
“After Mandurang got 236 yesterday, our plan today was just to get through to tea and take it from there.
“And that’s what happened. Brad Rowe and Shaun Cattanach batted really well for us and then Tim Hobbs came in and used his explosive hitting power.
“It’s just an absolutely sensational feeling, there’s no other way to describe it.
“The Chook Pen will be alive tonight... that’s for sure.”
After losing opener David Thompson (0) without a run on the board yesterday, Emu Creek took a slow and steady approach to its run-chase.
The Rangas conceded just 46 runs off their first 33 overs, but opener Brad Rowe and No.3 Shaun Cattanach remained rock solid for the Emus.
The pair survived to tea, taking the Emus to 1-80 off 43 overs at the break.
Rowe and Cattanach put on 87 for the second wicket, before Mandurang claimed a much-needed breakthrough when Cattanach was dismissed by Rangas’ captain Warrick Behrens for 30 in the 45th over.
Rowe batted through until the 55th over before he was run-out by a direct hit from Ben Rodda, leaving the Emus 3-118 and the game back on an even keel.
Rowe scored 67 (three fours) in what was his fourth score above 50 in his past six innings.
With Rowe dismissed, that brought veteran Tim Hobbs to the crease, who put a lean patch of form behind him to produce a man-of-the-match innings.
Having made 90 runs in his previous six innings, Hobbs crunched 80 for the Emus before he was the sixth wicket to fall just 16 runs shy of victory with the score on 221.
Hobbs’ 80 was laced with seven fours and one six, with his innings ended when he was dismissed lbw by Michael Healy.
Chamberlain finished 23 n.o, while Justin Hancock (2 n.o.) was also at the crease for the Emus when the winning runs were hit as they finished at 6-238 to win their first premiership since 1988.
Healy (2-41) and Behrens (2-48) were the multiple wicket-takers for Mandurang, which was striving to win back-to-back premierships in what was its third-straight grand final appearance.
On Saturday, Mandurang’s middle-order stood up in the Rangas’ total of 236.
Although Mandurang was scoring freely, Emu Creek had the upper hand when the Rangas had fallen to 5-92 in just the 22nd over.
Opening bowler Anthony Collins proved to be the early destroyer for the Emus, taking the first four wickets to fall.
In his first eight overs Collins removed Rhys Williams (1), Cain Ladiges (22), Ben Rodda (0) and Leigh Haw (0).
At that stage Collins had figures of 4-27, while the Rangas were 4-69.
That later became 5-92 when dangerous Mandurang opener Matt Giri was bowled by Justin Hancock for 57.
Earlier in his innings Giri got off the mark in spectacular style with a six.
Girl’s 57, which took his tally for the season to 377 runs in just five innings, included 40 runs in fours and sixes – seven boundaries and two sixes.
Following Giri’s wicket, Warrick Behrens and Michael Healy set about rebuilding the Mandurang innings.
They took the score to 140 before Simon Marwood claimed the key wicket of Behrens (22), who was caught by David Thompson in the 42nd over.
However, Behrens’s departure then set the stage for the best partnership of the innings for Mandurang when Healy and Geoff Thompson put on 89 for the seventh wicket.
The damaging Healy top-scored for the Rangas with 82, which included 11 boundaries, while Thompson added a valuable 39 (six fours, one six).
But when Thompson was bowled by Hancock with the score on 236, it sparked the demise of the Rangas, who lost their last three wickets for zero to be bowled out in the 66th over.
Also among the last three wickets to fall was that of Healy, who was dismissed by Chamberlain.
Collins finished with figures of 4-55 off 18 overs, while Chamberlain wrapped up the innings by taking 3-42 off 12.5 overs.
“We knew Mandurang was always going to fight hard and they did,” Chamberlain said.
“It’s just fantastic to get over the line.”
● Other grand finals:
Division two: United 8-147 dr Golden Gully 9-185 (ordinary condiitons).
Division three: Spring Gully 9-238 d Strathfieldsaye 58.
Division four: Spring Gully 8-137 d United 127.
Division one grand final
Mandurang v Emu Creek
at Evolution Oval
Mandurang won toss and batted
M. Giri b J. Hancock 57
R. Williams b A. Collins 1
C. Ladiges c S. Marwood b A. Collins 22
B. Rodda c T. Hobbs b A. Collins 0
L. Haw lbw A. Collins 0
W. Behrens c D. Thompson b S. Marwood 22
M. Healy c S. Hamilton b D. Chamberlain 82
G. Thompson b J. Hancock 39
G. McLean c S. Marwood b D. Chamberlain 0
K. Raukola not out 0
B. Noble b D. Chamberlain 0
Extras (5nb, 2w, 3b, 3lb) 13
Fall: 9 (R. Williams), 67 (C. Ladiges), 69 (B. Rodda), 69 (L. Haw), 92 (M. Giri), 140
(W. Behrens), 229 (G. Thompson), 236 (G. McLean), 236 (M. Healy), 236 (B. Noble).
Bowling: A. Collins 18-6-4-55, D. Thompson 5-0-0-40, J. Hancock 17-5-2-37, L. Byrne 5-1-0-17, A. Harris 1-0-0-6, D. Chamberlain 12.5-1-3-42, S. Marwood 7-0-1-33.
B. Rowe run out 67
D. Thompson c G. Thompson b M. Healy 0
S. Cattanach lbw b W. Behrens 30
S. Marwood c and b M. Giri 10
T. Hobbs lbw b M. Healy 80
S. Hamilton c G. Thompson b L. Haw 15
D. Chamberlain not out 23
J. Hancock not out 2
Extras (1nb, 2w, 8lb) 11
Six wickets for 238
Fall: 0 (D. Thompson), 87 (S. Cattanach) 118 (B. Rowe) 148 (S. Marwood) 176
(S. Hamilton) 221(T. Hobbs).
Bowling: C. Ladiges 10-5-0-12, M. Healy 18-7-2-41, K. Raukola 1-0-0-3, G. McLean 7-1-0-17, L. Haw 21-2-1-88, B. Noble 4-0-0-21, W. Behrens 12-0-2-48.
Emu Creek won by four wickets