THERE have been bigger bags of wickets taken in BDCA grand finals, but it's doubtful any bowler has made a start to the showcase game of the season like Huntly-North Epsom's Mitch Whittle did on Saturday.
In one of the most remarkable openings to a BDCA grand final, Whittle's first 20 deliveries from the Barnard Street end at the QEO yielded a spectacular 5-0.
But not only did Whittle decimate the top order of the competition's best batting line-up in Golden Square, there were no guarantees he'd be part of the Power's grand final side until after training Thursday night.
Whittle's season has been severely affected by what was diagnosed as an inner ear complication that led to him collapsing three times during games.
"The first time I went to the doctor after I passed out in a game he said I'd be done for the season and wouldn't play again for six months," Whittle said post-game.
"I had a CT scan and a spinal scan and then went to an ear specialist who worked out I had an inner ear problem where I had crystals rolling around in there that shouldn't be that was causing me to collapse.
"But I got through training well on Thursday night and the doctors words were to take it easy, just bowl four or five over spells and rest where I could. So that's why I bowled that five-over spell at the start of the game and then come off."
And what a five overs with the new ball it was as Whittle laid the ground work for the Power premiership.
In his first 20 deliveries Whittle dismissed Square's Tim Wood (6), captain Ben Gunn (0), Hamish Schumacher (0), Scott Woodman (0) and Scott Johnson (0) and was twice on a hat-trick.
Wood, Gunn, Schumacher and Johnson were all caught by Power wicket-keeper Brodie McRae, while skipper Elliott Massina described the ball he bowled Woodman on as one that "would have got Test cricketers out".
"It didn't really kick in until last night at recovery that I realised it was quite an achievement, especially when you look at the calibre of the batsmen," Whittle said.
"Wood, Gunn, Schumacher, Woodman and Johnson are all really good cricketers who I have a lot of respect for."
The 21-year-old finished with 5-22 off seven overs in what was also his first five-wicket bag in the BDCA.
Whittle didn't concede his first run until his 26th delivery when Liam Smith (8) scored two through square leg.
Whittle first played cricket with Huntly-North Epsom in the under-11s where his captain was Ryan Hartley, who was the only shining light in the Golden Square team at the weekend with his 87 n.o.
Apart from one season at Kangaroo Flat in 2015-16, all of Whittle's cricket has been played with the Power.
"This is just unbelievable to be part of. I'm so happy for everyone," Whittle said.
Whittle's performance of 5-22 ranks at No.42 on the list of best bowling figures in a BDCA grand final.
Meanwhile, winning the toss and batting first has become somewhat of a grand final curse in recent years.
Golden Square became the third team in a row to win the toss and lose the grand final batting first after Strathdale-Maristians (v Sandhurst) and Bendigo United (v Eaglehawk) had also done so in the previous two years.
READ MORE - Rags to riches Power on the big stage
READ MORE - Batting depth holds Golden Square in good stead
READ MORE - As it happened - grand final live coverage
READ MORE - Power skipper lauds Whittle, Grundy on big stage
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