Demons claim T20 crown

Joel Peterson | Bendigo Weekly | 19-Jan-2018

The victorious White Hills lineup. Photo: Andrew Perryman.

IT was billed as a match up of two unlikely sides and the Bendigo District Cricket Association Twenty20 grand final has produced just as unlikely an ending as White Hills won their first short form title in thrilling fashion.

Rhys Irwin was the hero for the Demons in front of a big QEO crowd on Wednesday night, taking four wickets and hitting the winning runs off the second last ball to get his side over the line.

White Hills chased just 109 for victory after a top order collapse from Bendigo United saw them placed precariously at 4/19 in the fifth over having won the toss and electing to bat.

Irwin struck twice in his second over to take the first two wickets of the game, knocking over opener Chris Howgate and Tyson Templeton in quick succession.

He then added the scalps of Miggy Podosky and Adrian Cronin at the end of his spell to finish with 4/22, before making 12 off six with the bat when the side needed it most.

“I had full confidence in Rhys to come in and finish the job for us,” White Hills captain Mitch Winter-Irving said of the man who replaced him at the crease needing 13 to win.

That confidence was not misplaced, as Irwin combined with Josh Julius – who spent most of the time at the non-striker’s end – to pass the target with a ball to spare.

“We knew we just had to keep trying to run hard and turn anything we could into two,” Irwin said.

“Josh did a great job at the other end and I was just lucky enough to get onto a few.”

Irwin’s winning shot came through a powerful off-drive, that beat the outstretched arms of Corey Daniels coming around from mid-off.

“I wasn’t sure it’d be four when I hit it, I knew we just had to run hard as we could,” Irwin said.

Daniels’ diving effort was emblematic of the Redbacks’ cause, desperately close but left with too much to do.

After losing Howgate and Templeton inside 10 runs, BUCCs saw two more wickets fall in the fifth over when Harry Donegan and Leigh McDermott were both caught off the bowling of Corey Dickins.

After BUCCs were  4/19, Jake Thrum and Corey Daniels put on an innings-high stand of 31 for the fifth wicket to steady things before Daniels (15 off 24) was caught behind off Mick Peters.

Thrum (20 off 25) fell shortly after, trapped LBW by off spinner Lincoln Jacobs at 6/60.

Miggy Podosky and match top scorer Adrian Cronin (27) then combined for 23 runs before Podosky was dismissed for 14 off 14.

Nick Williamson came out and made a handy run-a-ball cameo of eight, the innings ending with Cronin being bowled off the last ball with 108 on the board.

It was always going to be a tough score to defend for Bendigo United, who turned to the off spin of Howgate to open proceedings.

He and Podosky saw off the challenge of Demons marquee player Brayden Stepien early, the Carlton batsman struggling to get going on the slow QEO wicket.

He attempted to ramp McDermott in the fourth over, almost to his demise, before Grundy smashed a six over deep midwicket to start the runs ticking over.

With Howgate operating unchanged, Josh Thurston took up the attack in the sixth over and Stepien put the foot down, taking him for 11 runs off the first three balls of the over.

Grundy then took 13 off the last over of Howgate and the Demons looked comfortable at 0/42 after seven.

That was until McDermott ripped through Stepien for 19 with the first ball of the eighth over as part of a rare T20 wicket maiden.

Grundy fell for 23 in the very next over at the hands of Podosky, and suddenly Bendigo United were back in the contest.

Tyson Templeton then picked up the key wicket of a scratchy Gavin Bowles for just 11, leaving just Winter-Irving as a recognised batsman to occupy the crease.

That he did, hanging around until the second last over when he was caught by Daniels at long off. That over was bowled by Josh Thurston, a gamble by Redbacks captain Harry Donegan that paid off.

Irwin came to the crease and immediately got busy, scoring a run off every ball he faced including the last ball boundary that got his side home.

Winter-Irving said he hoped the win can get his side going in the longer form of the game.

“It’s been a pretty tough year but I’m proud of the boys on their efforts tonight,” he said.

“Hopefully this can give us some confidence heading into the back half of the season.”


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