Last week's B Grade grand final between VC Reid and Postie Tigers on South Grinsted Oval turned into an absolute nail biter going down to the last over.
VC Reid won the toss and elected to bat on a pitch that looked to be more for water birds on Wednesday afternoon following storms, but Council grounds staff should be commended on the work they put in to allow cricket to have its big day on the most picturesque grounds in the west.
Tigers opening bowler Isaac Sly probably had his best game with the ball taking 4-19 off his six overs, maintaining a good length and chipping away taking wickets throughout the VC Reid upper order.
He started with Joe Morrison (0) in his opening over and then followed that up with 2 in his next over to have VC Reid 3-16 after 4 and his figures 3-3 off 2 overs.
Most older heads would want to come off and protect their figures, but not Sly.
He dismissed the dangerous Adrian Cole for 11 and Luke Flakelar for 1 to have the Tigers players and their vast support crew roaring around the ground.
Cole can take the game away from a bowling team and Tigers new this was a valuable wicket, but still had some work in front of them with some town players to come in a VC Reid team that was in form, charging home in the regular season to make the grand final.
Selwyn Bale (13) was at the crease throughout this opening spell and despite giving chances, steadied the innings with Mark Simmonds (26). Simmonds especially, took to some short bowling from the Tigers pounding 5 boundaries in his innings and looked likely to build VC Reid's innings into something substantial.
However the introduction of young left arm bowler Griffin Jones (2-15 off 5) saw Bale back in the sheds with the score at 4-42, after 9 overs.
VC Reid captain Peter Webb (12) joined Simmonds for a 31 run stand, before Sly came back after drinks and combined with Man of the Match Mark Stirling (2-13 off 6 overs) to rip through the VC Reid middle and Lower order.
It started with Sly bowling Simmonds as he looked to put the ball in the lake, before Stirling's extremely tight spell saw him capture Webb's wicket just three overs later.
VC Reid lost probably their two best batsmen for two runs, leaving them at 6-75 and the Tigers were again prowling.
Jones took the wicket of Jacob Reid (6) which opened the VC Reid tail and the Tigers had their tail wagging.
Henry Hodges attempted to keep the VC Reid innings alive with a defiant stand before being caught off Jones bowling and some big hits from Liam Whitfield and Jacob Smith (both 5) kept VC Reid's hopes of a decent score in their 30 overs.
Daniel Swanston was last man out to a very good catch by Sly, Swanston unlucky to pick out the tallest person in the field as VC Reid lost their last five wickets for 15 runs. Their innings finishing in the 27th over.
For the Tigers bowling attack, Stirling's tight bowling complemented both Sly's line and length and Jones left arm swing to frustrate the VC Reid batsmen into mistakes.
The Tigers did drop a few chances, but VC Reid didn't make them pay and as you will see not batting out their innings may prove costly.
The Tigers innings started disastrously, losing promising big hitter James Burton for a duck to Jacob smith (1-34 off 6).
Smith's opening spell saw him deliver a few unplayable balls, however experienced representative players Mark Stirling (41) and Jamie Hoswell (12) got the Tigers back on track before Jacob Reid in a cracking spell of 1-6 off 6 overs including three maidens, of line and length similar to that of Sly's for the Tigers, had Hoswell caught with the score on 29.
Town opening bowler Simmonds bowl came on at first change and delivered the type of spell (1-9 off 6) he is renowned for as VC Reid slowed the Tigers innings to just over two runs an over.
VC Reid were in with a chance now, but the Tigers refused to lose their wickets and three overs either side of drinks saw Stirling and tigers captain Brady Nichols (8) take 21 runs and change the momentum back to the Tigers now 2-60 after 16 overs.
It may have been a VC Reid re think at drinks, or not, but the introduction of their captain Webb (2-22 off 6) to the attack, bowling in tandem with Simmonds got their team back in the game.
Stirling went with the momentum and was bowled by Simmonds in an outstanding innings given the context of the game before Webb took the wicket of Nichols in the next over. Griffin Jones (7) was extremely unlucky to be run out at the non-strikers end after a good hand and the Tigers had stumbled to 5-67 off 21.
Amongst this, Webb and Simmonds then bowled five overs for just one run and the game just seemed to be ambling along without much fanfare.
However the loss of Tigers stalwart Jayme Sherrit cheaply to Webb changed all that as VC Reid all of a sudden firmly had the upper hand and the Tigers camp became tense.
Tim Welsh (9) played well and while he was at the crease the Tigers camp felt more comfortable. VC Reid had used their opening bowlers, but the masterstroke of giving Swantson (2-11 off 2) an over had the game just one ball away from a VC Reid win as he took the wickets of Welsh and Nick Jones (5) in the same over.
A boundary to Welsh before his departure had the Tigers needing 5 off the final over of the game. Number 11 batsman Josh Higgins (7 not out) kept his nerve and was ably supported by the experience and enthusiasm of Jason Gaffney (0 not out).
What would it be, one wicket or five runs?
The Tigers took the no holds barred approach to the final over of the game, Higgins smashing a boundary winning of the third ball, the Tigers winning with just two balls to spare.
Both teams could look back at the game and see stages where they were in full control and should have won quite easily.
It was a game where the simple strategy of line and length bowling swayed the game enormously at different stages throughout the game.
It was the innings of Stirling for the Tigers, who saw most of the VC Reid established bowlers out, which was the difference in the end.
Yours in cricket, Plum
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