A five-wicket haul to Tuggeranong captain Shane Devoy has propelled the Vikings to their first Douglas Cup title since 2003/04 on a gripping third and final day’s play at Chisholm No 1 Oval. Even deep in the final session of play, with Weston Creek Molonglo grinding for a draw and Tuggeranong on the hunt for 10 wickets, the match remained on a knife’s edge.
When opening batsmen Robert Trickett and Josh Myburgh walked to the middle for the start of the fourth innings, Creek needed to chase 272 for an outright win. There was also the possibility of the visitors clinching a three-wicket win on the first innings in the event of surviving through to stumps. That fared as a distinct possibility given the side’s ability with the blade, as well as the presence of mist and rain engulfing the Brindabellas in the distance. Tuggeranong had an eye set on one goal: taking 10 wickets for an outright win. It made for one enthralling equation.
The day began with Tuggeranong at 7/259 and looking to build on its lead of 223 runs, Justin Haywood (31) and Benji Floros (3) at the crease. Having spurned the option of declaring their innings closed overnight, the hosts looked intent on scoring quick runs. Boundaries proved hard to come by, however, Tuggeranong having to hurriedly knock the ball around for ones and twos due to the tactical nous of Creek captain, John Rogers. Creek often had as many as five fieldsmen littered around the fence.
Haywood reached 50 with a whack through cover for two, continuing on to make an unbeaten 60 runs. He and Floros added another 39 runs to record a 46-run stand for the eighth wicket, before right-arm quick Djali Bloomfield trapped Floros LBW to pocket the first wicket of the day. Harry Medhurst then grabbed his first wicket of the innings when he crashed John Stankovic’s castle to have Tuggeranong fall to 9/307. Johnathan Whiteoak became the next to depart when, in search of a second run, Haywood turned him back. A missile of an outfield throw from Corey Ryan saw gloveman Jono Dean swipe off the bails with Whiteoak run-out while almost halfway down the wicket. The run-out brought Tuggeranong’s innings to a close at 307, and a testing 14-over period before lunch stood between Creek’s opening batsmen and lunch.
A testing passage of play it indeed proved to be, Tuggeranong breaking through for three pivotal wickets before the break. Myburgh looked in no rush, soaking up 16 balls for the gain of just two runs before a fizzing Floros delivery tickled the opener’s edge and flew to Devoy at first-slip. Tuggeranong had Creek at 1/7. Trickett so too proved a barnacle, dead-batting 35 balls for the gain of just seven runs. However, Devoy again then played a hand in a wicket, curling a swindling left-arm orthodox delivery to wrap Trickett’s front pad. A raising of the umpire’s finger followed.
Trundling in bowling right-arm mediums with gloveman Tom Vane-Tempest keeping up to the stumps, John Stankovic fired in a Yorker to bowl first-drop Ben Izzard (10). Creek had tumbled from 1/21 to 3/21 in the blink of an eye, and the umpires called lunch.
The pressure continued to mount on the visitors after the interval. The first ball of the second session shot off the batsman’s edge, zipping a touch out of reach of slip. Shortly after, Tuggeranong grabbed the crucial wicket of the competition’s best batsman, with Stankovic cannoning one into the boot of Dean to remove him LBW. Even after this point, it was clear that Creek was looking to grind through to stumps to secure a win on the first innings, a ploy the visitors employed for the duration of the afternoon.
Devoy proved a threat all afternoon, often operating with a first and leg-slip, a silly-point and a short-leg surrounding the bat like vultures. Attacking fields and pinpoint accuracy brought Medhurst’s innings undone, the right-hander scooping one to a catching-cover to depart for nine off 27 balls as Creek fell to 5/38.
The visitors then enjoyed a period of calmer waters, battening down the hatches to last 14.2 overs before the fall of the next wicket. The sixth wicket fell in the shadows of the tea-time break, when a bamboozling Devoy delivery sliced through Sam Taylor’s defence to remove the lower-order batsman for 17. When Devoy got a looping delivery to shoot off the edge of Ryan’s bat the following ball just centimetres away from the grip of silly-point, it was met with oohs and aahs.
Upon the resumption of play after tea at 6/75, it was only a matter of moments before Tuggeranong snared the seventh wicket. Ambling in bowling looping off-spin, replacement player Billy Floros snaffled the crucial wicket of Rogers (24 off 100), with the ball feathering the skipper’s edge and fizzing through to Vane-Tempest behind the stumps.
Next came the wicket of Mark Bennett when Benji Floros trapped the ACT/Southern captain on the crease LBW, bringing an end to his stubborn 20-ball stay at the crease. Creek was reeling at 8/82, but a sprinkle of rain lingered.
The pressure intensified when Bloomfield survived a raucous LBW appeal after a ball from Devoy thudded into his front pad. After the following delivery, the ground was again flooded with deafening shouts, Bloomfield survived another appeal for a catch at short-leg.
Tuggeranong found its next breakthrough only moments later when Devoy trapped Ryan LBW. Devoy then fittingly captured his fifth scalp of the innings and figures of 5/39 off 28.4 overs when Joe Slater spooned one to Kevin Chapman at mid-off. The final breakthrough ignited the jubilant scenes that followed in celebration of the side's thrilling 173-run win.
Rogers praised how far Tuggeranong had come to win the Douglas Cup title.
“To Tuggeranong, lads, outstanding,” Rogers said.
“Congratulations on the win. The way you handled yourselves under pressure, and especially Shane who turned the club around by the looks of it. Everyone’s playing off the back of you.”
Tuggeranong’s captain was as equally commendable about Creek.
“To Creek, you guys are a seriously good side,” Devoy said.
“I reckon us, and every other club, are worried what you are going to bring next year off the back off this.”
Devoy was recognised for his stunning figures and rapid 46 in his side’s second innings, being awarded the Greg Irvine Medal for producing an inspiring man-of-the-match performance.