Murray Valley Cricket Association’s impressive run of 20 consecutive wins at the top level of Bendigo Country Week came to an end at the Queen Elizabeth Oval on Monday.
The blow came as the side lowered its colours to Ferntree Gully by 10 runs.
In a replay of last year’s final, Murray Valley was sent in on a good wicket, and at the completion of its 50 overs was 9/174. They were probably about 25 runs short of a ‘‘par’’ score, according to local experts.
CYU’s Stuart Thompson (26) and Kieran Andrew (18) got the Valley off to a sound start with an opening stand of 43.
Luke Carter (32) Shaun Downie (18) and Ben Mansell (33) all batted well, without managing to go on to a big score.
FTG’s Mohammed Farrukh (15-2-4-38) made it difficult for the Valley batsmen to accelerate, with his well flighted off spinners responsible for keeping Murray Valley to just 26 runs in its last 11 overs.
Murray Valley started enthusiastically in the field, and wickets fell steadily.
Tom Glover and Damian Atkins were economical, and the fielding was excellent, applying pressure to the FTG batsmen.
Luke Carter (14-2-2-42), Chris Shaw (5-2-1-13) and Shaun Downie (13-1-2-44) continued to apply the pressure, and it looked good for the Valley with FTG 5/85, with just 15 overs to go.
But opener Jayden Bradbury (88 n.o.) found a willing ally in Englishman Adam Dobb (40 n.o.) who combined for a 99 run sixth wicket partnership.
A feature of their bating was the ability to mix aggression with sensible batting.
Bradbury won the game in the 48th over with a towering six.
Now it’s all stops out for Murray Valley as it attempts a record equalling fifth consecutive title.
Tomorrow’s challenge is Benalla at Canterbury Park, Eaglehawk.
Making up the representative team in Bendigo this week is:
S Downie (c), L Carter, D Atkins, T Glover, K Andrew, C Shaw, B Ross, J Cahir, B Mansell, S Thompson, J Daniels and J Elliott.
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