Taylor Beard leads Echuca to Goulburn Murray Cricket Twenty20 title win.GEORDIE COWAN December 23, 2013 4:56am
Echuca remains the only team unbeaten in all forms of Goulburn Murray Cricket after claiming the Twenty20 title on Saturday.
The team ultimately defeated Rochester Tigers by 53 runs in the final and, save for a six-over spell when its middle-order collapsed, was the dominant team throughout the match.
Echuca captain Taylor Beard said it was great to win the title in his third year captaining the Twenty20 side.
‘‘It was good to finally get a win on the board but I couldn’t have done it without the help of the blokes,’’ he said.
‘‘We had a couple of kids who have really stepped up and I couldn’t have asked for much more from them.’’
Brendan Prendergast was named as man of the match after providing a steadying hand with the bat to score 40 before taking vital wickets in consecutive deliveries with the ball.
On a day which thankfully did not reach the forecast 39°C, Echuca won the toss and batted in front of about 150 spectators at Rochester.
Starting at the crease were Prendergast and Leitchville-Gunbower recruit Tyler Jones, who had been superb throughout the competition — with his lowest score being 39 — and was looking ominous again before running himself out for 14 after taking on a long throw from the deep.
Despite the setback in the fourth over, Beard came in and immediately picked up the slack.
The pair added 41 in four overs, with short balls in particular being punished, before Russell Sheriff bowled Beard (14) and then trapped Curtis Townrow lbw the next ball.
Echuca, who had been coasting, then collapsed further in the next over when Adam Jones and Ryan Hon were caught in the deep trying to attack spinner Matt Stokes, falling from 1/66 to 5/69.
Boundaries had been hard to come by against the slower bowlers and Andrew Beaumont became the next victim to Stokes.
Prendergast then edged a Brad Major ball and the Tigers looked well in control after reducing Echuca to 7/84 in the 13th over.
However, Nick Dolan and Shaun Hon then set about restoring the innings and turned the total from a defendable one into an imposing one.
The young pair batted extremely well to hit the gaps in the field and run hard, putting on an unbeaten 73-run partnership.
Dolan (38 not out) struck the only six of the match — lofting a Stokes full toss onto the new Windridge oval grandstand — while Hon (22 not out) was busy between the wickets.
The Tigers, who may have been a bit physically exhausted after bowling second in the semi-final, struggled to maintain their line and length towards the end of the innings with 23 extras added to the total as Echuca finished on 7/157.
The Tigers were also missing the services of Sean Williams with the ball after he injured his shoulder during the semi-final, while Brad Major (1/11) completed three overs despite twinging a hamstring.
Stokes (3/29) was the main wicket-taker while Sheriff finished with 2/24.
Needing almost eight runs an over, the Tigers started well with Ward and Daniel Major opening.
Ward (14) looked to be in good form so it was with joy that the Echuca players celebrated when a Beard yorker uprooted his leg stump.
Brad Major came out to join Daniel (10) at the crease but their partnership did not last long, with the wicketkeeper caught off the bowling of Ryan Hon, before a disastrous mix-up saw Williams run out for zero.
With the team at 3/28 in the fourth over, the Tigers needed a big partnership and Brad Major and Darcy Geyer looked to provide it.
Despite Major’s inability to push through the runs due to his injury, the pair rapidly increased the score with boundaries through the off-side.
But after taking Prendergast for 11 runs in his opening over, the leg-spinner returned with an impact.
First Geyer (18) sliced a shot to Beard to end the 42-run combination, before Major (26) hit a ball straight to Mitch Byrne at square leg.
Matt Stokes was then bowled through the gate by Byrne, showing his displeasure by throwing his bat away and the end came soon after, with only Tony Griffiths (14) making it to double figures as the team was bowled out for 104.
Wickets were shared among the bowlers, with Beard, Prendergast and Byrne capturing two each.
Beard said the lower-order partnership between Dolan and Hon was ‘‘probably the reason we won’’, while he also praised Dolan on his impact with the ball and Tyler Jones for his efforts opening the batting.
‘‘We bowled to our plans, nice and straight and full and we were able to set a field to that and come away with the win,’’ he said.
Tigers captain Grant Wachter said it was always going to be a tough challenge to overhaul such a big total.
‘‘But it being such a good wicket we thought we had the personnel to chase it down, but we were just no good on the day,’’ he said.
‘‘We needed a few (of our batsmen) to really press for a big score, but (Echuca) got early wickets and that put scoreboard pressure on the lower order and it’s really tough from there.’’
The captain said the bowling of spinner Stokes and medium-pacer Sheriff were important, while Brad Major hit the ball well while he was at the crease.
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