Goulburn Murray’s top cricketers were toppled by a strong Murray Valley Cricket Association side in Bendigo Country Week recently.
An undefeated division one campaign — punctuated by a 32-run victory against rival Goulburn Murray Cricket in the final — was the reward Murray’s group of star players claimed from a week of hard work.
It all threatened to go wrong in the decider though.
After winning the toss and batting first, Murray could only manage 155 before being bowled out — the lowest total it accumulated for the entire tournament.
Liam Evans (58) again led the way with the bat, while lower order resistance from Ash Quinn (20 not out) and Jesse Trower (10) would prove crucial.
The bowling performance Murray engineered was enough to claim the crown for the first time since 2012, with Evans (3-20), Trower (2-19) and Kane Goldsworthy (2-20) snaring wickets at regular intervals to stunt GMC’s chase.
Evans’ all-round brilliance was a distinct theme of the event.
The rising star smashed 264 runs at an average of 66 and strike rate of 75.6 (with a high score of 119 not out) to top the batting charts for the week, while also taking 13 wickets at 16.69 to place second in the bowling ranks.
GMC had its own all-round superstar at the tournament, but it was not enough for it to defend last year’s title win over Murray.
Former Central Park-St Brendan’s player Alistair McCann claimed 14 wickets at a cost of 7.29 apiece to soar to the top of the bowling table, but also hit 218 runs at 43.6 to sneak onto the podium of the batting ladder as well.
McCann’s 3-15 in the final — alongside Matt Hinks (2-22) and Darcy Elliott (2-38) — gave GMC a chance to snare victory, but with Hinks’ 23 the highest score in the side’s innings it was simply not enough.
GMC could have counted itself lucky to have even been in the final after almost farcical scenes played out the night before.
The Bendigo District Cricket Association had disqualified the association from the final after claiming it had used more than the permitted 17 players in the preliminary rounds.
The announcement came not long after McCann had destroyed Northern Districts with 86 and 5-21 to steer his team into the decider.
But just a few hours later the BDCA backed down and reinstated the side, with further investigation revealing no wrongdoing by GMC.