Manly 6/223 ( Ovenden 60, McGregor 49, Bennett 45 *) defeated by North Shore (Watts 2/21, Hobson 2/40)
The boys turned up for the big Semi Final clash at Mike Pawley Oval against North Shore full of confidence and enthusiasm after following up the Minor Premiership with a great QF win last week against Hawkesbury.
The day started well with Watts winning his 2nd toss of the year and the decision to bat first on a true wicket was an obvious one.
Openers Osborne and Mendel started in their usual aggressive fashion before Osborne was the unfortunate victim to a sensational diving catch by the North Shore wicketkeeper for 8. Mendel was batting superbly but unfortunately found the mid off fielder with a well timed off drive, and when Colyer was LBW, the boys were struggling at 3/43.
One of the characteristics of this team is that when we have found ourselves in trouble this season there was always a player or two or three who decided it was them who would step up in times of need. On this day it was Ovenden and McGregor who combined in a very sensible partnership of 76 to get us back on top. Ovenden’s 60 was full on flourishing drives and powerful pulls , and he was particularly brutal on anything loose from the North Shore spinners. We were convinced he was on target for a massive score, but like all batsman in cricket history, it only takes one ball, and he was soon out bowled to the collective groan from the Manly supporter base.
With Molyneux gone soon after, it was another time for a rebuild and McGregor and Bennett did just that in a fine partnership. McGregor’s sweeping and cutting was a feature of his valuable and sensible 49, and his unselfishness in giving his wicket away in the pursuit of quick end of innings runs was typical of his team first attitude.
Bennett played a controlled and mature innings. The coach had told him he can have “fun” in the last 5 overs so make sure you are there for that , and that he did, hitting a few massive balls that gave us just the impetuous we needed at the end of the innings. Jones played a great part as well in contributing a quick 24* to get our score to a respectable 223 – a great result given our early innings challenges.
The run chase started well for North Shore, with both of their openers playing expansively with good results and we were soon under the pump. Our bowling attack was missing the strike and pace of Bennett due to injury, but all other boys shared the load well and we started to restrict the openers. McGregor struck with the vital first wicket, and from there the ever reliable Watts dragged the batsman back with a great spell that eventually resulted in the fine figures of 2/21 off 10 overs. Jones and Park bowled very good spells in the middle overs and the game was in the balance right up until the last over where North shore needed 5 runs.
The Manly coaching and support staff were doing it tough on the sideline – good there was some calm still in the players, as Park ran in for the final over. Unfortunately 2 hits from the visitors led them to a well deserved victory. It was fine chase by North Shore and they deserved their victory, but we were very proud of the Manly boys who gave 100% effort at all times throughout the day and that is all we have ever asked of them.
The nature of this tournament is that 1 loss means it is all over and our first loss of the season resigned us to that fate this year. But that’s not the important thing – it’s that these boys played so well as a team, supported each other fantastically, hopefully learnt some “stuff” along the way and created some long lasting friendships.
Thanks to all involved in supporting the team over their journey with Manly Junior cricket ( there are too many to thank individually of course). There will be lot of people following these boys progress in the years ahead.