Under 11 DCA JH Creak Shield
Semi-Final vs North Shore Sunday 4th December
Pottery Green, Lane Cove
Manly won the toss and elected to bat:
Manly Warringah 7-130 (40 overs) defeated North Shore 106 All Out
MANLY PROGRESS TO THE GRAND FINAL!!!
Harry O’Sullivan 22; Lewis Whilley 19no; Ethan Buchanan 19; Ollie Mann 18no ; Tom Molloy 17; Matt Evans 14
Ethan Buchanan 7.4-2-6-14; Lewis Whilley 8-2-1-13, Matt Evans 3-0-0-15, Tom Cole 3-0-1-15, Eshaan Holla 5-0-0-18, Tom Molloy 6-1-1-10, Will Brewster 2-0-1-10
“That was the best fielding performance I have ever seen by a junior cricket team’
North Shore DCA 11’s Coach and ex-NSW player Warwick Adlam to Scott and I at the end of the game.
On Thursday the boys went down to Graham Reserve where Shawn Bradstreet offered our boys a chance to get out there and do a fielding session in preparation for their semi-final against North Shore. Roy Vumbaca and Jay Lenton gave up their time to come and spend it with our lads, putting them through a series of drills that had them smiling no end, and building on this teams genuine love of all things fielding. Given the boys were playing a side who have cut a swathe through U-10’s and U-11’s Reps in the last few seasons (even winning an U-12’s tournament in Canberra recently and beating us twice: in a trial and in a competition round), Roy and the coaches instilled that there was ‘nothing to lose’ so go out there and enjoy it.
We cannot thank Roy and Jay Lee enough for their encouragement, support and expertise on Thursday. This is why Manly is such a great club. How lucky were our boys? And didn’t they go out there and put what they practiced to good use…….
Catches win matches.
They would have been so proud of these youngsters – they had six catching opportunities – held all six: Degrees of difficulty: one dolly, two excellent and three absolute screamers. That’s no exaggeration. That’s even before we cover the general out-fielding. The NS coaches’ statement to us at the end of the game said it all.
So here we were back at Pottery Green – almost becoming a home ground for us, this was the 3rd time we were to play here this season having taken on North Shore in a trial and competition round. They had beaten Manly in both matches and came into this semi losing only two wickets in total – yes TWO wickets, in their last three matches, including their quarter-final where their openers put on 163. This was going to be a mountain to climb but when we played them in the competition round our bowlers put them under the kosh and a few things went their way including the weather. NS were amazing in the field when we played them last, and it was up to our boys to see if they could raise the bar.
Skipper Tommy Molloy learnt a fair bit about probability during the week, he hasn’t won a toss all season but if he was going to call right, this was the time to do it. Tails it was, Manly will bat thank you. The shrieks of delight that resonated around this amphitheatre from our boys wasn’t lost on the NS side, they turned as a team to look at our boys who were up for the challenge.
Harry O’Sullivan and Matt Evans have been a very solid opening combination in recent matches. NS have plenty of firepower with the ball and it was up to these two to get Manly off to a good start. They waltzed out to a cacophony of noise and a barrage of chirps aimed at putting pressure on them but once bitten, twice shy. They were completely unfazed. Completely. The noise levels started to drop around the 8th over when our boys started to score at 4 an over and you saw what pressure can do. Composed cricket played and a brilliant start by these two. They regained their chirp when Matt was well caught for 14 in the 14th over, 31 on the board. Tommy Molloy entered the cauldron but the noise was soon dampened by some excellent running that put plenty of heat on the NS fielders, forcing them to overthrow. They started to get animated in the field as the score quickly approached 50 for only one down. It took a pretty amazing catch from their keeper to remove Harry for 22. At 2-49 in the 18th over North Shore knew they were in a game.
Ethan Buchanan loped out to join Tom, but was soon looking for another partner when he chipped one to mid-off who dived forward and glove a decent chance. 3-56 and were the wobbles going to grab us again? Will Brewster and Ethan have had some solid partnerships and we needed one here. The next three overs really rattled NS as they went for 7, 6 and 8. You could sense panic stations as they were sent to all parts of the field – this wasn’t going to their usual script. With the scoreboard visible to all, they could see they were going to have to be chasing a decent score, and it is amazing the impact it can have on young players not used to being put under the pump.
With the score on 80 Will popped one up and was caught by their captain. He was really disappointed but that’s cricket. They introduced their leggie and it had an immediate effect. He tossed the first one right up to Ethan who attempted to dispatch it into the Lane Cove tunnel. He stepped down and gave it an almighty swipe, missed and was well stumped for 19. He too came off looking despondent as all of a sudden Manly were 5-82. Not 10 minutes earlier a score of 150 was looking possible, now anything above 100-110 would be a bonus. Lochie Kinstler-Smith hit a lovely four but then decided to try and repeat the next ball, spooning one up in the air for an easy catch. Benji Cook only lastest three balls as composure went out the window. We had plenty of overs, we needed sensible cricket to build a challenging total. Anything beyond 100 is a psychological level, especially at this age. Especially against a team who almost always bowls teams out for under 100.
Enter Lewis Whilley and our keeper Ollie Mann. Batting has been a real battle for these young men, a litany of low scores has really played on their minds. There is no doubt both boys can bat, but in the tough Reps environment where catches are held and pressure constantly on, it can cruel confidence. Scott said to them just stay there. Plenty of balls, plenty of time, play smart and score if you can. They came together in the 28th over, and stayed unbeaten in a match defining partnership.
Things were not easy. NS had their backs up as momentum had flowed back to them. They were talking a lot and seemed to delight in dot balls. Funny that, we quite enjoyed them too. Those dot balls built up, interspersed with 1’s then 2’s, and the odd boundary. Those dot balls meant our boys didn’t get out. Those dot balls increased frustration on their side. They didn’t enjoy those dot balls so much in the end. These lads passed the 100, then passed the 110. Then it was 120 as their team mates and parents cheered them on. NS knew every run was one extra they would have to get and were starting to panic. They dropped a catch or two that there is no way they would usually drop. The boys had running mix-ups and should have been run out for all money at least twice, but pressure leads to awkward throws, snatches at the ball and cricket circumstance you cannot predict. Our boys survived.
The last few overs were bowled by Preston Lee (son of Brett) and Will Adlam (son of Warwick). It will be a while before our boys face a more genetically talented bowling pair. Didn’t faze our lads, they just did their thing. Ollie even left two balls in the last over – unusual tactics but to be fair he thought they’d be called wides. He probably knew we had enoughJ The importance of their partnership – as unorthodox, awkward and chaotic as it was at times, cannot be understated. In fact NS believe it is the highest partnership to be scored against them since they started playing Reps cricket in U-10’s. The other decent impact it had was on the Manly team under the marquee. Our boys had some serious kick in their step as they headed to lunch. Lewis’s 19no and Ollie’s 18no and 40 run stand putting 130 on the scoreboard for all to see meant it was game on. Great effort boys!
We have played at Pottery Green so many times this season we know the NS mums on a first name basis and what delights they were going to provide for us. The curry is as always, exceptional. Through the haze of the night before, I had a good chat to Brett Lee as we lined up for food. He was really impressed with the standard of cricket being played and delighted in the fact that there are all these kids just loving playing the game. How good is it for our boys to have icons of our game complementing the way they play!
After lunch was devoured Scott brought the boys together and talked to them as he had done all week. At training on Tuesday he delivered a pretty inspiring talk to the boys about having ‘nothing to lose’ and to simply field like they did the week before, enjoy it, do it for your team mates and the rest will sort itself out.
Nothing to lose.
This became the catch-cry of our boys as the NS openers waltzed out. This pair put on 163 in their quarter-final but this was no ordinary attack they were about to face. As Ethan charged in for the first ball, we were about to embark on three hours of pulsating cricket that saw Manly pull off a quite stunning victory against the best team in the competition.
The blowtorch went on early and after a solitary single off Ethan’s opener was followed up with a cracking maiden from Lewis, Ethan came steaming in for the 3rd. After being hit for a four he lulled their opener forward on the drive. At shortish cover was Tommy Molloy in a position that he has made his own this season. The NS opener latched onto it but he drove it into a dangerous area – Tommy’s zone. He held a very good, low chance hit hard and despite some disbelief from the batsmen who didn’t want to go, the umpire confirmed the Manly skippers catch and the boys were away, 1-5 after three. What better way to add a little more pressure than to back that up with twelve consecutive dot balls, the boys pouncing on anything and everything coming their way. Pressure. The talk was brilliant, ‘nothing to lose, pressure’s not on us’. Didn’t it resonate around Lane Cove. Manly could not possibly have asked for a better opening spell from the two lanky quicks and if there were any doubts as to whether it was game on, there were none now. 1-14 after 8.
Matt Evans and Tom Cole came into the attack and started safely. A couple of loose overs saw NS score quickly before the old adage ‘catches win matches’ came into play. The NS skipper has a brutal off drive and we have seen in previous games when he gets one in that zone they get sent. Tom Cole put one up in that zone and their skip latched onto it. This ball flew off the bat. Standing in the way about 14m from when it first hit the willow was Tommy M, who held this beast of a drive. This thing was seriously pumped but Tom simply plucked it above his shoulder, all reaction, that was it. A big danger man was on his way back to the sheds and at 2-33 the boys believed they had a great chance. That pressure was lifted with 4 byes in the next over followed up by some wides the one after. The coach decided to turn to spin.
Eshaan and Tom bowled in tandem but NS were playing panick-free cricket, picking up 1’s and 2’s. at half-way it was 2-66. Exactly half the target. NS were in the box seat but our boys never gave up, never stopped the supportive talk, never stopped throwing themselves at everything that came their way. Charlie Poynton, Harry down at deep square-leg pulled off great saves, Lochie was his usual livewire-self stopping so many runs but we just needed a breakthrough. Time to bring Ethan back on. If we are going to win this game, we need to bowl them out.
The 36 run partnership came to an end when the opener tried to guide Ethan’s 5th ball down past backward point. A talkative Will Brewster was lurking down there and took a spectacular diving catch to remove a very good bat for 29. He was absolutely mobbed by his team mates and this was just the tonic for the boys to get their backs up, and for NS to realise it wasn’t in the bag just yet. 3-69.
One wicket leads to another wicket that leads to another wicket. In the 23rd over Ethan didn’t like getting hit for four a few balls earlier, so decided it was jaffa time, plonking one bang on the furniture, 4-78. Lewis came back into the attack and 3rd ball in he had their bat popping one up in the air into no man’s land, Lewis chased it hard and took a difficult caught and bowled to the delight of his team mates, 5-83. Their keeper – whom in previous games had plenty…..and we mean plenty to say – entered the fray but Will’s very first ball lulled him into popping one straight to Tommy M who bagged his 3rd catch. 6-84. What’s that term they use: Grandstand finish?
The boys knew they were on top, it was just about keeping composure and knowing where all the pressure was – on North Shore. The pressure came off immediately as a wide was followed by four byes – the ebbs, the flows. Being such a strong team North Shore’s lower order have had limited game time in the middle and the best way to tackle this is to attack. This is why Manly went to our gun quicks to see what they can do. Lewis came back on and bowled exceptionally tight in tandem with his skip. The dots were building up, the fielding absolutely outstanding as NS inched towards 100. They had plenty of time although each dot seemed to add considerable pressure. Lewis conceded only 1 in the 29th. The 30th over was a maiden by Tom, Lewis then sent down a one run over for the 31st. Tom then backed it up with only 2 off the 32nd. 3 scoring shots in 24 balls. The fielding exceptional – Matt, Lochie, Charlie, Lewis, Eshaan – everyone. Talk about heat…….
Ethan resumed in the 33rd over and coaxed their bat into a straight drive with which big ‘E’ threw down his paws and picked up a very sharp C&B. Wow. What a game. 7-105, every single parent, supporter, kookaburra in the tree, dog walker even the Uber drivers were on the knife’s edge. The noise and positivity from our boys was stunning. They were so ‘on’. With dots galore, the pressure had really built up. NS had one decent bat still in, a lad who plundered a ton in 10’s reps the season before. Manly had to get him. Tommy Molloy was having none of it. Having switched from pace to off-spin this season, he threw down a low, flat first ball a bit quicker than those the same bat blocked out his previous over. The bat walked across his crease and Tommy had collected him bang in front. A voracious appeal by the entire Manly side lead to that cricketing delight you get as the umpire raised his digit, slowly but assuredly, 8-106. Is this really happening?
The ball was then thrown to Ethan for the last over of his 8 over allotment. He might not forget it in a hurry. The first two balls were well fielded by Matt and Lochie, dot balls. North Shore parents couldn’t watch, Manly parents and siblings were cheering on every single action by the Manly boys and the Manly boys themselves…..well, they just smelt blood. 3rdball of the over Ethan put one right in the slot and back went the bails. 9 down. The Manly boys couldn’t contain their delight in hugging their towering team mate – it is a really funny dynamic as Ethan towers over all of them except Lewis, and he stands like a lighthouse whilst his mates mob him. He is such an unassuming lad who just smiles when he gets wickets……needless to say he smiles a lot.
One wicket left. The boys barely had time to remind all and sundry they had ‘nothing to lose’ when Ethan came charging in, planting the ball on EXACTLY the same spot for EXACTLY the same result. Clean bowled. Game over, Manly win. Bleed blue.
The scenes of delirium everywhere were quite amazing. The boys just mobbed one another in this sheer delight as they toppled the best team in the league in some game of cricket to gain a Grand Final spot. A few weeks back we stood there in the rain thinking we were out of the competition after losing to Sutherland. We snuck in, in 7th spot and the Match Report then mentioned that actually, this is now where this Manly side were at their most dangerous. Two weeks on with the scalps of the top and second ranked team under their belts, they have shown that you know what…..these Manly boys can play a bit of cricket.
They hands with the North Shore team and we have to say the game was played in great spirit. You cannot help but feel for the NS lads, they were visibly upset at the loss but this is cricket. It’s a brutal but fabulous game. What this game did do was cement a great rivalry we will have with NS for years to come. They are an extremely gifted side who just ran into a very enthusiastic Manly side. The standard of play today by both teams beggars belief that is was coming from 10 & 11yo’s.
As mentioned at the start their coach paid our boys the ultimate compliment. North Shore are such a strong side they gave only six chances. In fact they gave only three but our boys turned another three 1%’ers into wickets. The Manly side have a great team mentality and today the unsung heroes were Ollie and Lewis with the bat and boys like Benji and Charlie in the field. One of the most endearing aspects of this team is that they come from all different clubs: Cromer, Harbord, Seaforth, St Augs, Wakehurst, Collaroy, Peninsula. They represent a great cross-section of the junior association and its inherent strength. They also just love playing together and representing a club in Manly who take such keen interest in their juniors, as Roy and Jay showed on Thursday night. We cannot thank them enough.
Thanks to the parents, siblings, relatives and friends that created a great little enclave at the southern end of Pottery Green. I think when Ethan bagged that final pole the jumping up in delight by the boys and everyone supporting the team registered on some richter scale somewhere. Thanks to Kimbyl for scoring and to Scott and Wazza as ever for coaching the boys.
We do it all again next week. It’s a GF but you know what – nothing to lose. They have done so well to get this far, everything has been a bonus. One things for sure – they have done Manly proud.