Forbes' Under 14s have scored a well deserved victory in the Lachlan representative junior cricket grand final.
The hosts won the toss and chose to bat, blissfully unaware of the drama unfolding on the adjacent field in the Under 12s grand final.
The grand final was against a Parkes attack that dismissed them for just 72 runs on the same ground only three weeks prior and Forbes lost their in form batsmen Harry McDonald run out in the third over.
Not a good way to dismiss the nerves that were obvious amongst Forbes top order already.
Triston Ross (6) and first drop, Tom Glasson (17) got Forbes to 18 before Ross was caught behind.
Joe Nicholson (22) joined his co-captain to steady Forbes' innings, and although initially the run rate was not the fastest, the pair got Forbes established.
In their previous game, Forbes failed to bat out their overs and was amongst the reasons they lost, as their bowlers had the Parkes batsmen in trouble then, so this partnership helped reassure the Forbes team that the last game was not reflective of the batting abilities.
Glasson was disappointingly dismissed when the score was 41 and just as the pair looked to be getting on top of the Parkes bowlers.
Marcus Hardy (8) joined Nicholson for a 21 run partnership as Nicholson started to dispatch loose deliveries, before the pair fell within the space of ten deliveries, as Parkes change bowers Cowie and Drew took some timely wickets from the visitors point of view.
Forbes was now 5-64 after just 23 overs and their innings was in the balance. Bat well and stick out another 17 overs and they could realistically make a very hard to chase score of 110 plus on a ground that was yielding very few boundaries.
Dempsey O'Connell (6) and the vastly improving Coby Hall (12) started just that and moved Forbes onto 82, before they were both dismissed within a run. Forbes was doing enough to make a good total, running singles very well, but losing wickets in pairs was keeping the Parkes team interested and competitive.
Forbes lower order contributed well again as they have all season, Lewis Nicholson (3), Tyler Jelbart (7) and Cooper Dun (5) all contributed to partnerships with Luke Beasley and some extras from a tiring bowling attack that was alternating trying to sweep through the Forbes batters, saw Forbes finish on 100 exactly.
A bit short of where they were realistically heading. Again Forbes finished their innings a frustrating four overs before their entitled 40 overs, which could be a significant point as this battle goes on.
But the message was that this is a total that is very defendable on a slow outfield. At total some 25 runs more against the same team that they had in dire trouble three weeks ago.
By now they knew what had happened next door in the Under 12s grand final and the message of never give up was reinforced.
Parkes began their innings very steadily, knowing they had some good batsmen in their upper order that could finish a game if it came to that.
They lost their fist wicket at 7 in the 7th over to O'Connell (1-19 off 8) and their second to Nicholson (1-17 off 8) who bowled excellently, to be 2-19 in the 14th over.
Forbes knew Parkes Moody was the key, but their bowling was strangling the Parkes batting and the run rate was creeping above 3 an over and pressure was mounting.
Change bowler Marcus Hardy (0-6 off 6 overs) was outstanding once again with his line and length giving Parkes nothing and complementing the spin of Ross in an outstanding bowling partnership.
Moody (34) batted excellently in the most and was ably supported by Sam Rayner (18) as the pair put on a 50 run stand.
Forbes was rotating through its bowling attack caught between trying to find a way to break this partnership, yet maintain the extremely efficient bowling.
Eventually Nicholson bowled S Rayner in the 30th over. This game could go to either team.
Forbes might have been feeling slightly ahead, with runs on the board and Parkes requiring nearly four an over, but Parkes had seven wickets in hand and Moody was moving along nicely.
But Ross (4-18 off 8) swept through the Parkes middle order. The pressure of the run chase also got to Parkes as they submitted to two run-outs as Forbes fastest three fielders of O'Connell, Ross and Lewis Nicholson swooped on indecision between the wickets as Parkes stumbled from 2-69 to 9-81.
Whilst all this was unfolding the run rate was climbing to a level that looked out of the reach of Parkes, but cricket is a funny game, as we have already seen.
However, change bowlers McDonald (0-2 off 2), Glasson (0-12 off 4) and especially Hall (2-4 off 3) who bowled some excellent tight leg spin, took the game from Parkes' reach.
Hall claimed the last wicket deservedly, as Forbes won the title by 15 runs in a game that was far less dramatic than their younger colleagues, but one still filled with enough tension, as both teams looked capable of winning.
The Forbes crowd hoping to be able to make it a double and Parkes supporters hoping for a win to wash away the bitter taste of the day so far.
In the end Forbes batted well enough, but it was their bowling which was far more consistent, yielding half the extras of previous weeks, and their fielding, especially that in the outfield that was classy and accurate that maintained the pressure they had exerted with the ball to gain them the win.
An efficient display from Forbes who topped a day that Forbes Junior Cricket will remember fondly for many years.
Two premierships at home (four in three years), over your fiercest rivals is a day that has been a long time in the making, and vastly rewarding.
The boys and those off the field who have made it so, should feel very proud - they know who they are.
- Yours in Cricket - Plumb
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