Team will stay in division three after failing to capitalise on a terrific bowling performance in the final.By Geordie Cowan
A man-of-the-match performance from 16-year-old Cooma paceman Liam Barrett was not enough to boost Goulburn Murray Cricket to the Melbourne Country Week division three title on Friday.
The young gun claimed 6/13 as Goulburn Murray routed Mornington Peninsula for 121, only for the team’s long batting line-up to falter at the final hurdle to lose by 24 runs.
The result wraps up a promising but ultimately unfulfilling representative season for the senior side after going unbeaten through the regular rounds of both Melbourne and Bendigo country weeks before falling short in the final each time.
‘‘It was a missed opportunity,’’ Goulburn Murray coach Lawrie Casey said.
‘‘To play really well all week and give ourselves a chance and then not finish the job was very disappointing.’’
After winning the toss — for the fifth consecutive time — Goulburn Murray sent Mornington in to bat on an inconsistent, but by no means unplayable, pitch at Preston.
The opposition started well to be 0/33 after seven overs, until Barrett struck.
The wicket of Jedd Frick sparked an incredible period for Barrett, claiming four wickets in seven balls including dangerous opener Dylan O’Malley (32).
The young paceman’s run continued as he chipped in with two more wickets to reduce Mornington to 6/51.
‘‘He bowled very well in the first two days without a lot of reward,’’ Casey said.
‘‘Most of his wickets were bowled or caught behind the wicket, which tells you he was bowling in pretty good areas.’’
When Colin Grigg (1/45) and Adam Nunn (1/15) claimed the wickets of John Forrest (16) and Matthew Roach, the opposition was 8/73 and Goulburn Murray would have been confident of chasing down a low total.
However, the Mornington tail-enders proved elusive and the last three batsmen combined for what turned out to be two match-winning partnerships to add 48 runs to the score.
The team finished on 121 after Luke Hewitt (22), Mitch Darville (20) and Nick Wilcox (7 not out) kept the Goulburn Murray bowlers at bay before Greg Pearse (1/9) and Taylor Beard (1/6) took the final wickets.
Chasing 122 for victory, Goulburn Murray had the worst possible start after opening with attacking batsmen Adam Jones and Tim Maxfield.
Jones was caught on the third ball of the innings and Paul Newman followed him back to the pavilion on the first ball of the second over for the team to be 2/0.
Maxfield struck two boundaries before he fell for 12 and Daniel Kent, who earlier in the week scored 94, was the next to go for 10.
Goulburn Murray needed just one good partnership to give it the upper hand, but it was unable to find it.
A big blow came when Adam Ward (20), who had been batting well, played a loose shot and chipped the ball to mid-wicket just two balls before lunch.
The wickets continued to tumble after the break and when Goulburn Murray was 7/58, it desperately needed a partnership from the last recognised batsmen Michael Hill and Nunn (16).
The pair fought hard with plenty of time in hand — Hill (15) in particular proving to be a stalwart at the crease, lasting close to two hours — as they added 26 runs for the eighth wicket.
But it was not to be as the team was bowled out for 97 — with eight of the dismissals coming from catches.
‘‘With the batting line-up we had, with the first nine batsmen quality players, I just thought somebody would cornerstone it, get 40 or 50 and get us home,’’ Casey said.
‘‘Our shot selection and execution was poor.
‘‘Paul Newman nicked the ball, but all our other blokes were caught in front of the wicket,
‘‘That to me was poor shot selection.’’
When the team lost the two early wickets and combined with the low target score, there was a nervous atmosphere, the Kyabram-based coach said.
‘‘But that’s where you hope your good players find a way to get it done,’’ Casey said.
‘‘One bloke to cornerstone (the innings) and we would have achieved our goal for the week.’’
Tensions were high between the teams throughout the match, with a fair bit of chatter between the players, especially after the dismissal of Kent.
‘‘It was a competitive game,’’ Casey said.
‘‘When (Mornington) came out to bowl they were up and about and they got in a few minds.’’
While the team’s overall week was impressive, it was left with a bitter taste in its mouth, Casey said.
‘‘In any country week it’s a tough gig to win four games to get to the final,’’ he said.
‘‘The group played really well and for the first part of the final, you couldn’t ask for a better result.
‘‘But when chasing 120 with the quality team we had, whichever way you look at it, it was a very disappointing performance.’’
The worst part about the result was the knowledge the team — which was ‘‘terrifically’’ led by Newman and Pearse — would have to return to division three next year.
‘‘It’s really the opportunity (missed) to be not playing division two, that really hurts them,’’ Casey said.
‘‘We’ll have to go back next year and do it all again.’’
Goulburn Murray Cricket v Mornington Peninsula
Toss won by Goulburn Murray
D O’Malley b Barrett32
J Falck c Beard b Barrett4
A Paxton c Jones b Barrett9
L O’Connor c Jones b Barrett0
T Clarke c Ward b Barrett0
L Poholke c Ward b Barrett0
J Forrest lbw b Griggs16
M Roach b Nunn4
L Hewitt b Pearse22
M Darville c Jones b Beard20
N Wilcox not out7
Fall: Falck 33, O’Malley 38, O’Connor 38, Clarke 38, Poholke 44, Paxton 51, Forrest 67, Roach 73, Hewitt 103, Darville 121.
Bowling: C Griggs 10-0-1-45, L Barrett 8-4-6-13, A Ward 3-0-0-21, A Nunn 4-0-1-15, M Hill 2-0-0-8, G Pearse 3-1-1-9, T Beard 1.3-0-1-6.
A Jones c Hewitt b Fry0
T Maxfield c Roach b Fry12
P Newman c Clarke b Wilcox0
D Kent c Paxton b Hewitt10
A Ward c Paxton b Roach 20
G Pearse lbw Roach7
M Hill lbw O’Malley15
T Beard c Darville b Roach0
A Nunn c Darville b Forrest16
C Griggs c Clarke b O’Malley3
S Hearn not out7
Fall: Jones 0, Newman 0, Maxfield 24, Kent 31, Ward 48, Pearse 58, Beard 58, Nunn 84, Griggs 88, Hill 97.
Bowling: J Fry 5-1-2-9, N Wilcox 7-1-1-25, L Hewitt 10-2-1-27, M Roach 10-5-3-15, D O’Malley 6-1-2-16, J Forrest 4-2-1-3.
Adam Ward looked lively during his stay at the crease during the final.
Mornington Peninsula celebrate after winning the division three title.
Adam Ward exchanges words with the Mornington Peninsula players.
Goulburn Murray's Daniel Kent was unhappy with the behaviour of the Mornington players after his dismissal.
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