Looking back on the 2017 year in cricket

FLAG JOY AT LAST: The Golden Gully team that won the club's first division one premiership in the EVCA in March. Picture: LUKE WEST
FLAG JOY AT LAST: The Golden Gully team that won the club's first division one premiership in the EVCA in March. Picture: LUKE WEST

LUKE WEST takes a look back at some of the cricketing stories from 2017.

COBRAS STRIKE FOR FIRST EVCA FLAG

It took 17 years, but Golden Gully finally savoured its first Emu Valley Cricket Association division one premiership success.

The Cobras – captained by Clint Prime – won their maiden flag with a 35-run victory against Mandurang at Ewing Park in March.

Golden Gully made 231 batting first before dismissing the Rangas for 196 on day two.

The Cobras’ premiership team featured Jeremy Rogerson and Brad Webster, who had both been with the club since day one in 2000.

“It’s a fabulous feeling and well deserved by the boys,” skipper Prime said.

“We set a three-year plan to get where we wanted to and we’ve achieved it in the second year.

“Credit to the boys and the committee… we’ve worked hard as a unit all year.”

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DOUBLE TONS AND RECORD SCORES

For two Monday editions in a row in November the back page of the Addy featured a pair of stories on club record-breaking double centuries.

The first was on November 13 when Eaglehawk star Jeremy Brown set a new club record score of 215 off just 131 balls in the Hawks’ mammoth total of 404 against Bendigo United.

Eaglehawk's Jeremy Brown.

Eaglehawk's Jeremy Brown.

Brown’s knock surpassed Eaglehawk’s previous record score of 206 that had been held by Dennis Bice since the 1990-91 season, while it was the sixth highest score in BDCA history.

Brown’s 215 was a spectacular return to form given his previous three innings had yielded scores of just 12, 13 and four.

“It was one of those days where you hit a good shot and get away early, whereas I hadn’t been able to do that before today,” Brown said.

A week later West Bendigo 39-year-old Travis O’Connell scored the first EVCA division one double century in the club’s history when he cracked 208 n.o. in the Redbacks’ 7-392 against United.

West Bendigo's Travis O'Connell.

West Bendigo's Travis O'Connell.

O’Connell was given an early life when dropped on 10 and cashed in on his second chance.

“I had a bit of luck on Saturday and it was nice to be on the right end of a score like that given United has tended to belt us around a bit over the years and made some big scores,” O’Connell said.

Both Brown (464) and O’Connell (577) are the leading run-scorers in their competitions at the mid-season break, with both having backed up their double centuries with another ton since.

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TAYLOR FALLS JUST SHORT OF JOINING RARE BDCA CLUB

Strathdale-Maristians’ leg-spinner Cameron Taylor had 41 chances on January 21 to become just the third player in BDCA history to take all 10 wickets in a first XI innings.

Taylor claimed the first nine wickets for the Suns against Strathfieldsaye at Tannery Lane, and then bowled a further 41 deliveries at the last pair of Bodee Scullie and Michael Curtis.

However, Taylor had to settle for 9-66 off 30 overs – a new Suns’ club record bowling performance – after Ben DeAraugo cost him a place in BDCA folklore by taking the last wicket when Curits was caught at slip by Andrew Hosking.

Taylor’s nine-for was the beginning of a four-game purple patch in which he took 9-66, 6-78, 5-58 and 6-26 – a total of 26 wickets for 228 runs off 103.4 overs.

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BENDIGO RELEGATED AT COUNTRY WEEK

Taylor Beard made a day one century against Warrnambool.

Taylor Beard made a day one century against Warrnambool.

It’s the dreaded word no team wants associated with them at Melbourne Country Week – “relegated”.

But that’s the hand Bendigo was dealt earlier this year after enduring a winless Provincial Group campaign, finishing last and being sent back to division two for the first time since 1999.

The relegation came after Bendigo had narrowly lost the grand final the previous two years.

“This is obviously as low as it can be… the boys are all really devastated,” BDCA coach Matt Pinniger said.

“There’s no sugar-coating the fact that we just weren’t good enough throughout the week.”

One of the highlights of the forgettable campaign in Melbourne was Taylor Beard’s day one century against Warrnambool.

Bendigo’s Melbourne Country Week results – 6-220 lt Warrnambool 7-234; 136 lt Sale-Maffra 253; 157 lt Mornington-Peninsula 9-185; 192 lt Bairnsdale 9-198;

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EAGLEHAWK FLIES TO BDCA PREMIERSHIP

Eaglehawk's premiership team.

Eaglehawk's premiership team.

A year after squandering a strong position in the BDCA grand final against Strathdale-Maristians, Eaglehawk won its first premiership since 2006.

Having dismantled the Suns by eight wickets in their semi-final the previous week, the Hawks proved far too strong for Bendigo United in the grand final at the QEO.

The Redbacks scrapped their way from 5-60 to 9-158 batting first, with the Hawks taking 71 overs on day two to chase down their target and answer with 7-159.

Hawks’ all-rounder Shane Murdoch (4-50 and 9) was awarded the Taylor-Walsh Medal, while in a game that was dominated by the ball, only Bendigo United’s Harry Donegan (40) scored more than 30.

“It takes a fair bit of character to win a grand final batting second and I couldn’t be more prouder of the boys over the two days,” Hawks’ captain Cory Jacobs said.

“Grand finals are hard to win and I’m just rapt we’ve been able to do it today.”

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HEATH BEHRENS PULLS STUMPS ON STELLAR CAREER

Unless he emulates his favourite singer John Farnham and comes out of retirement, 2017 signalled the end of the greatest batting career in the history of the BDCA.

It was in June when Bendigo United’s Heath Behrens pulled up stumps after more than 20 years of first XI cricket with the Redbacks.

Behrens bowed out of the game holding the BDCA records for most runs (11,579), most centuries (28) and the league’s highest score (249 n.o.), as well as five premierships and a batting average of 51.01.

His final innings was the Redbacks’ losing grand final to Eaglehawk when trapped lbw by Cory Jacobs for 25.

“I’m wanting to spend some more time with my family, plus the passion to play has probably burned out and isn’t where it should be to commit to another year,” Behrens said.

“I probably got a couple more years extra than what I thought I would have.”

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BOWE’S BIG NIGHT AT MCG FOR MELBOURNE STARS

MAGIC MOMENT: Julie Bowe (aqua top) shows her emotion after step son Liam Bowe's wicket for the Melbourne Stars on Tuesday night. Picture: MELANIE CROOKSTON SMITH

MAGIC MOMENT: Julie Bowe (aqua top) shows her emotion after step son Liam Bowe's wicket for the Melbourne Stars on Tuesday night. Picture: MELANIE CROOKSTON SMITH

From playing in the BDCA to bowling in front of more than 40,000 fans at the MCG on a Tuesday night in January a year later.

That was the giant leap former Sandhurst leg-spinner Liam Bowe took earlier this year when he made his Big Bash League debut for the Melbourne Stars against the Adelaide Strikers.

Liam Bowe Melbourne Stars debut v Adelaide Strikers. Picture: MELANIE CROOKSTON SMITH, LIGHT AND COLOUR STUDIO

Liam Bowe Melbourne Stars debut v Adelaide Strikers. Picture: MELANIE CROOKSTON SMITH, LIGHT AND COLOUR STUDIO

And Bowe wasted no time in making his mark, trending nationally on Twitter and quickly being dubbed “The Wizard” for his bespectacled likeness to Harry Potter.

Bowe certainly wasn’t overawed by the big occasion, finishing with 1-21 off three overs, with his wicket that of Ben Dunk who was caught by David Hussey at deep cover off the final ball of his first over.

“I couldn’t believe it when the catch was taken… I was extremely happy and relieved to get the first wicket out of the way,” Bowe said the following day.

“It was an awesome feeling and nice to get Dunk at that time of the game.”

The most nervous moment of the memorable night for Bowe was when he was padded up with the Stars eight wickets down and still three runs shy of victory with one over to go.

“I was just praying that I wouldn’t have to go out there," Bowe said.

Thankfully for Bowe he didn’t have to as Ben Hilfenhaus and Michael Beer finished the job for the Stars.

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JOHNSON JOINS 300-GAME CLUB

Scott Johnson on the eve of his 300th game. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Scott Johnson on the eve of his 300th game. Picture: DARREN HOWE

The BDCA welcomed just its 10th member of the coveted 300-game club when Golden Square’s Scott Johnson reached the milestone on November 18 against Bendigo United.

Now 41 Johnson – the first Golden Square player to achieve the feat – made his first XI debut in the 1991-92 season as a 15-year-old.

Johnson celebrated his milestone game with a win, in which he contributed an unbeaten 48.