The 2020-21 Mount Gambier and District Cricket Association junior season finished with a flourish after three eye-catching finals around the region last weekend. Arguably the biggest celebrations were heard from the East Gambier huddle after the team completed a memorable O’Donohue Shield campaign in style.
Just one year after recording one win and the suffering the despair of the wooden spoon, the Bulldogs were dancing on top of the Under 17’s cricket world moments after overcoming Millicent by 14 runs at Frew Park.
Minor-premier East batted first and its top order showed the side was more than up for the fight. The top seven all cruised past double figures with Liam Turley, Jimmy Sullivan and Jack Lawrence particularly impressive retiring on 31, 22 and 32 respectively.
Their efforts pushed the Bulldogs to the solid score of 2/176 with just two overs to go. However, the innings had another twist with Ellis Cushion’s death bowling coming to the fore. Cushion closed the innings with one wicket and two run outs in the final over to limit East’s total to 6/182.
Kallan Bevan, Corey Baker and Eli Redman were also successful with the ball. When the sunny skies returned for day two on Friday evening, East landed first blow in Millicent’s run chase. Liam Turley and Oli Bennett were effective with the new ball removing both openers, while later strikes from Sullivan, Lawrence and Noah Gazzard left Millicent in deep trouble at 5/83.
But watching the bails fly from the other end was Cushion, who still held hopes of a Millicent win and put his team on the right track before retiring. Jacob Todd picked up from where Cushion left off and struck an important 43.
However, just when Millicent clawed back into contention, it lost four quick wickets to appear stranded with 49 runs to win and just one wicket in hand. But Cushion returned to the crease and did not give up, swinging quick runs to keep his team alive.
He took the game to the last over, but could not strike a Turley delivery over Tom Graney at long off and was caught on 47 to seal a memorable win for the Bulldogs. Turley was the chief destroyer with three poles, while Sullivan, Bennett and Lawrence chipped in with two each.
The Under 12 Sims Shield decider between Millicent and Mil Lel Green also took place on Thursday and Friday at Steeline Park.
Despite Millicent entering the fixture with the minor premiership and hunting a hat-trick of flags, it was Mil Lel Green which stormed to the ultimate prize after a crushing nine-wicket win. Millicent was sent into bat and slipped to 2/36 before its engine room fired.
A pair of undefeated 39’s from Teej Lawlor and Ryder Lindner increased the score upwards of triple figures, but late wickets restricted Millicent to 5/139 from its 30 overs. Harrison Hicks, Jackson Saunders and Deklan Gartside were the successful bowlers and the former remained a thorn in Millicent’s side when Mil Lel Green padded up on day two.
After Mitchell Tarrant picked up what proved to be Millicent’s only wicket, Hicks appeared in control from ball one and played a series of fine strokes through the leg-side field. He retired after smashing 51 runs from just 30 balls and received strong support from Tayte Virtanen, Rhys Grigg and Archie Allen.
Millicent finally tasted success by lifting the Hall Trophy after overcoming South Gambier in the Under 14’s grand final at Malseed Park on Sunday. The Demons posted 134 after an up-and-down innings began with two early wickets from Brayden Rowe and Ollie Fitzgerald.
Elwood Geary (46) and Jacob Salmon (22) struck South towards safety with a match-high 67-run stand. But they both fell in quick succession and only Noah Maxwell offered any resistance with 30 for the remainder of the innings as Sam Hunt, Charlie Bevan and Max Hunt caused issues with the Kookaburra.
South felt confident after Geary removed Cambell Hateley’s defences in the fourth over, but Millicent had little cause for concern thanks to its top order. Strong temperament from Sam Hunt (25), Fitzgerald (33), Ashton Lindner (27) and Brayden Rowe (21) ensured Millicent crossed the line with six wickets and 10.2 overs to spare.
Geary’s impressive figures of 5-5-1-0 gave the minor premiers something to cheer about, as did Salmon, Jaggar Geary and Zac Shanks with one victim each. The MGDCA junior presentation night will take place at the Blue Lake Golf Club next Wednesday night.