Aclinical performance with the bat and blade ensured North Sportsman’s added another Barber Shield to its ever-growing trophy cabinet last weekend.
Playing in their seventh consecutive Mount Gambier and District Cricket Association final, the Tigers were too strong for Penola and you could not wipe the smile off the face of victorious captain Nick McInerney.
He was particularly fond of the way his side won the big game, being the first team in at least a decade to go all the way chasing.
“We are stoked and what I am most happy with is we did it differently this year,” McInerney said.
“We chased it down because for a number of years the team batting first has got the job done.
“All week a talking point was not worrying whether we batted or bowled first and everyone embraced that.
“We are proud to do it the other way.”
Things did not go North’s way in the early stages with the Eagles’ openers comfortably progressing to 18.
But once the Tigers’ found the first pole, McInerney said his bowlers readjusted and were hard to stop.
“Initially we did not bowl as well as we would have liked, so after we got that first breakthrough we got back to what we hoped to do, which was hitting our lengths outside off,” he said.
“We did not give a lot away which brings pressure in itself and being a final only adds to that, so credit to our boys for sticking to the plan bringing those false strokes.”
After Penola recovered to 6/95 before tea, North cleaned up the tail after the break thanks to Tim Young’s hot spell.
Despite having all of the momentum after knocking over the Eagles for 104, McInerney was aware of the obstacles ahead during a vital period before stumps.
He said it was going to be a tricky target against the likes of Michael Waters and Lachlan Jones, who defended 96 against East Gambier in the semi-final alone.
“They are a really good bowling unit and have defended lower scores than that, so we knew we had our work cut out,” McInerney said.
“The 28 overs before stumps were key to the game, so for our openers to score 60 without losing a wicket before stumps put us in such a strong position.”
Ominously for the competition, McInerney believes his already loaded side was enhanced with the addition of youngsters such as Elliott Fisher and Isaac Mulraney and the captain looks forward to chasing a four-peat.
“It is a great group and we have kept a core amount of players with minimal changes each year,” he said.
“But we have got a few younger players in the team, so it was good to see them play some roles and we are very excited for the future.”