Mitchell Cricket Council claimed a premiership win in Western Zone’s Inter-Council Under-12 competition, despite a late-order collapse resigning the Black Caps to a thrilling tie against Macquarie in Sunday’s final round.
Six down with just five runs left to win, Mitchell looked all but certain to seal a fourth straight victory but Macquarie’s never-say-die attitude came to the fore in the dying stages, the Black Caps lost their last four wickets for as many runs to be forced into a deadlock.
Fortunately for the Garth Dean-coached side, their three straight wins in the lead-up were enough to push them over the line in terms of the premiership and they still finished the only unbeaten side across all three of the Inter-Council age groups.
“They were the only undefeated team across the nine teams in the three age groups so they have to be proud of that,” Dean said.
“I was pleased with the way they improved across their games. One thing they bought into was the fact that if you find a way to use your overs then you win most of your games in that age group.”
Bathurst’s Mark Sheather (2-20) and Cooper Stephen (1-20) got Mitchell off to a great start with the ball, leaving Macquarie in strife at 3-30 early, although Ayden Hunt (31) mounted a small fightback.
Hunt’s dismissal could have triggered a middle order stumble for Macquarie but thanks to important knocks from Nate Bayliss (23) and captain Max Richardson (33), the side worked its way to a respectable tally of 9-156.
Orange’s Toby Middleton (3-10) put a dampener on Macquarie’s momentum late in the innings too.
After Connor Brown (2) fell early Middleton (13) and Tom Blowes (24) steadied Mitchell’s ship, before Stephen came in and punched out a game-high 43 in a two-hour stint at the crease.
He was the sixth wicket to fall with the score at 130, but Mac Hutchings (27) and Mark Sheather (7) added another 22 and looked on track to get their side over the line.
Then Hutchings was run out by Cooper Townsend, sparking the stunning late order collapse which forced the tie.
“We got into a couple of situations in the game where we could have folded and lost by 50 or 60 runs but we didn’t do that,” Dean said.
“There were a couple of nice partnerships there with Mark (Sheather) and Mac and earlier on with Cooper and Blayde (Burke) where it kept us in the contest.
“Right at the end we probably should have won it but we’re happy enough with the tie because it easily could have gone the other way.
“We’ll have quite a lot of kids staying over in this age group for next season. It should be a strong team because a lot of our best performers this year were the younger ones.”
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