PGs Grand Final Wrap vs Fairfield-Liverpool

Poidevin Gray Shield – Grand Final vs Fairfield Liverpool at North Sydney Oval

Fairfield Liverpool 4/233 (B Knox 1/25, F May 1/34, JN James 1/52, C Savage 1/54) def UTS North Sydney 219 (target 256) (JN James 87, N Whyte 30, J Hardy 25, F May 25)

It was an amazing achievement and in keeping with the philosophy of Podevin Gray Shield to bring together a group of lads from all five grades in the one team.

The groups showed glimpses of brilliance against Sydney before letting the game slip away. We put together a successful chase to grab victory from the jaws of defeat at Manly Oval, but dropped our home game against Sutherland. From that point we easily accounted for the Randy Petes and Eastern Suburbs and demolished UNSW in a must win final pool game. We raised the bar to beat UNSW convincingly once again in the Conference Semi-final and then faced an undefeated Gordon in the conference final, who we also thrashed in an inspired performance.

We all know that Fairfield claimed the trophy, but it is worth acknowledging the tremendous effort put in by all players in the squad and the amazing wave that this group rode into the Grand Final. Despite the young Bears heroics, we were clearly the underdogs facing eight regular first graders in the opposition, including two NSW 2nd XI players and an Australian U19 representative.

The day started well with a wicket in the second over to Fletcher May (1/34 off 8.5). Fletcher bowled with control and pace and was difficult to get away conceding just 14 runs in his first seven overs. While the bowlers kept the run rate under control, the batsman, Uppal (85) and Sharma (72) were able to hit the gaps regularly to put on a 139 run second wicket partnership. The partnership saw two rain interruptions that collectively took the players of the field for over an hour. When Sharma was finally removed by Ben Knox (1/25 off 5), with the catch taken by Chris Savage, 33 overs had passed for 145 runs. New man, Patil, got straight into his work and lifted the run rate immediately. He and Uppal put on 43 runs in the next 7 overs before Uppal was dismissed by Chris Savage (1/54) in his final over of the day. Jack James (1/52) claimed the final Bears wicket courtesy of a brilliant diving catch by Jake Hardy (who sustained a suspected broken finger in the process) in the 41st over. Only 5 more overs were possible before the rain suspended play once again with Fairfield 4/233 off 46.5 overs.

With time lost, a target of 256 runs from 46 overs was set using the Duckworth Lewis method. The target looked tough, but doable so long as the Bears kept wickets in hand. This did not happen with James Leary, Broc Hardy and Tim Reynolds all falling for single figure scores and the Bears in early trouble at 3/35 off 12 overs. Jack James (87) then combined with several players to put on a number of promising partnerships. James combined with Jordan Vilensky (13) for 27 of 34 and then Jake Hardy (25) 36 off 35 balls to get the chase back on track. The loss of Hardy was huge as he was striking them well and it took a ridiculously good one-handed catch by Ivan Sunjic at cow corner to get him out. Another 20-run stand between James and captain Mac Jenkins (8) took the score to 6/118 from 26 overs.

So, with 20 overs remaining the run rate had increased to 7 runs per over – A very achievable run rate, but much more tricky with only 4 in the sheds. The proverbial fat lady was warming up on the sidelines. However, Jack and Nuwan Whyte (30) had other ideas, scoring 44 runs from 49 balls to keep the dream alive. Nuwan launched two big bombs in his 23-ball stay. Jack then combined with Fletcher May (25) for the best partnership of the day (45 runs from 42 balls) to bring the target under 50 runs. With only Ben Knox and Chris Savage to bat, Jack attempted to lift the pace. He succeeded in smashing Chad Sammut over the mid wicket fence, but feathered a catch to the keeper in an attempt to keep the strike off the last ball of the over. His 87 runs came off 132 balls, which was on a par with the runs scored by Uppal and Sharma, and included 3 fours and 2 sixes. The team lasted one more ball – dismissed for 219.

Only Jordan Vilensky is ineligible to play next season – so the future is bright for this young squad.

Thanks must go to the many volunteers and supporters who put on a terrific event and gave North Sydney Oval an atmosphere unrivalled in NSW Premier Cricket.

Images and video courtesy of Tony Johnson, David James and Sarah Berman