EPC Solar Park played host to three back-to-back matches over the course of the day to determine the overall winner, with Ginninderra taking on Western District and Queanbeyan taking on Weston Creek in the semi-finals to determine the grand finals.
Ginninderra kicked off the day at 9:00AM, with four of the top five making at least 25, GCC put on 132 – a competitive total without being an imposing one due to the lack of a big. Captain Rhys Healy was the standout, top scoring with 34 at better than a run-a-ball. The Western District bowlers deserve credit too, for restricting the batting side to just six boundaries in their 20 overs. Nic Broes, despite being the sixth bowler utilised by Wests Captain Joe Cooke, recorded the best bowling figures of 3/21 off his four overs.
In reply, Wests put on an early demonstration of their game plan to burst out of the blocks with an aggressive opening partnership. Stalwarts Blake Dean and Ethan Bartlett put on 79 together in quick time, finding the boundary with the regularity that Ginninderra could not (17 fours and two sixes in 18.3 overs). When Bartlett fell for 48 off just 27 balls, Wests had already broken the back of the chase and were guided home by Dean, who finished with 68 off 65 (the highest score of the day), and skipper Cooke with 12 off just 7 balls.
The second semi-final, between Weston Creek and Queanbeyan, proved a much closer affair. Winning the toss and electing to bat, Weston Creek posted 5/145 off their 20 overs thanks in large part due an opening stand of 85 between Jake Myburgh and captain Robbie Trickett, who ended up with 67 (55) and 41 (31) respectively. The Queanbeyan bowlers did well to put the brakes on what looked to be a runaway innings after dismissing Trickett – the only other batsman to make double figures was Joe Slater, whose late hitting was welcome relief from the steady fall of wickets. Will Todd finished an impressive display with 4/12 off four overs.
Queanbeyan veteran Mark Higgs looked in the mood early on and smashed five sixes and one four on his way to 41 off 25 to get his side off to a great start. After Higgs lost his wicket with the score at 2/67, a team effort led by Dean Solway (34 off 27) took QDCC to 8/145 off 20 overs – setting up a super over to determine the winner.
Weston Creek were unable to repeat their opening-partnership heroics, losing Robbie Trickett first ball to the joy of the men in blue. Josh Low-McMahon, earmarked as a player to watch ahead of Finals Day, showed excellent composure to score 9 runs off the remaining five balls over the Super Over in an innings characterised by placement and aggressive running more than power.
After the earlier onslaught from Mark Higgs, Queanbeyan must have felt optimistic about chasing 10 runs off 6 balls, but that optimism took a dent when he was run out for just three. In the end, Dean Solway scraped 5 off the last 3 balls of the over – leaving the two sides unable to be separated for the second time in less than an hour. In accordance with competition rules, Queanbeyan were awarded winners of the match owing to their superior position in the league table, locking in their place against Wests. A tough outcome for Weston Creek, who performed admirably throughout, but one that Queanbeyan would go on to prove they deserved.
With the sun beginning to lower over EPC Solar Park, the Grand Final took place slightly later than planned. Solway won the toss and sent his openers out to continue their good work, which they did – Higgs and Van Luin put on 53 together before Higgs was run out for 34, having faced just 14 balls. Van Luin fell for 33 after taking the score to 91 alongside Dean Solway (31), but it was Jordan Hedlington’s 47 from just 28 balls that took Queanbeyan’s total from the respectable to the imposing – 5/168 after 20 overs. Ethan Bartlett, a player who clearly loves finals, was the standout Wests bowler with 3/30 off his four overs.
Wests innings could not have gotten off too much worse of a start when Blake Dean, a key figure in their commanding performance against Ginninderra, was out with just two on the scoreboard. Some powerful hitting from Bartlett alongside starts from Joe Cooke, Scott Murn and Charlie Taylor kept the scoreboard ticking over to keep Wests with a sniff throughout the innings, but Queanbeyan must have felt confident when the score was 4/83 after 11 overs. It was thanks to innings of the day from Nic Broes that dragged Wests to the finish line – his smart handling of the strike complemented his powerful hitting perfectly as he finished with 58 off just 28 balls (3 fours and 3 sixes) to take Wests and Queanbeyan into the second Super Over of the day.
In fact it was Broes who was selected to step up with the ball for that Super Over, something the Queanbeyan openers – now in their fourth bat of the day – seemed more than ready for. Two key boundaries from Higgs and some aggressive running between the wickets set Wests a challenging target of 15 to win the Grand Final.
At the break, much discussion returned to the question of who would win if the Super Over was another tie. As with the Semi-final, Wests in effect only had to score 14 to secure the Cup owing to their superior table position – a quirk of the rules that sparked a lot of intrigue and excitement on the evening.
In fact, Queanbeyan were convincing and deserved winners. Wests lost key man Bartlett first ball and never recovered. Blake Dean was sent out at number three to maximise the amount of balls he would face if Bartlett fell early, a canny piece of captaincy from Joe Cooke – but with no choice other than to run aggressively every ball, he was run out for 3 and Wests could only manage 6.
The relief and joy on the Queanbeyan squad’s faces was evident in their immediate celebrations after the final ball but regrouped to shake hands with their opponents and reflect on an amazing game of T20 cricket. Post-match, both captains spoke warmly of their rivalry and enjoyment of the games played.
Huge thanks to Greg Chappell Cricket Centre for supporting this competition and making it our biggest First Grade finals day on record. Broadcast to thousands of people on both YouTube and MyCricket’s Facebook Page, the excellent standard and spectacle of Canberra cricket was on show and is sure to be the first of a fantastic partnership for many years to come.