Both Old Scotch CC elevens pulled off remarkable close wins to secure top spot for the A-Team and ensure finals for the Celebrities in heart stopping encounters at Trinity Playing fields where the A-Team held off a determined Old Trinity by 6 runs and at Scotch College where the Celebrities conjured a last over miracle to win by a solitary run in emotion charged scenes.
At Trinity Playing Fields in Bulleen, Sam Shearer won the toss and elected to bat. Yet again, the slow outfield on the Hudson Oval made scoring difficult, with only Tim Hosking with 71 not out and Nick Shearer with 27 making scores of substance in the modest 7 for 145 posted by the Scotchies. Hosking's excellent 71 was nearly half the Scotchie total, and turned out to be the match defining innings.
Past clashes here have shown that circa 150 is usually a very competitive total, and this was no exception. The A-Team bowlers turned the screws and the fielders were miserly. but, even as Old Trinity wickets fell, they were ahead of the run rate and looked only one good partnership away from securing a win. When the bespectacled Gary "Mr Reliable" Bennett commenced the 37th over, Trinity were only seven runs shy of a remarkable win, with 24 balls to complete the task. Old Trinity batsman Matthew Keys was 33 not out and looking likely to shepherd the T's home, when off the second ball of that over Bennett bowled Keys to seal a heroic 6 run win and ensure the A-Team secure top spot for season 2018/19 and a home semi final.
Over on the Meares Oval at Scotch College, the Celebrities inspirational spiritual leader John Stavris won the toss and had no hesitation electing to bat. Many Celebrities got starts, but only Hugh Longbottom with 34 not out and TJ Polkinghorne with 33 really going on with it. The Celebrities tallied a slightly below par 5/167.
At 3 for 104, Melbourne seemed to be cruising to the victory target, when Polkinghorne triggered a collapse capturing 3 for 9 to seemingly put the Celebrities on top. Melbourne fought hard and rallied, and at 7 for 148 with only 20 runs needed with Melbourne batsman Hollins looking in control on 22, all seemed lost.
Enter stage right; big, bad, bustling Will Clark.
The previous week's century maker decided it was time to make his mark on the contest, as he removed Hollins with the score on 148. Melbourne dug deep yet again, and come the last over, required only 4 runs with two wickets in had to secure a brilliant victory. Will Clark who had the rock in his hand would have to conjure a miracle to pull this match out of the fire.
Three runs needed.
Victory for Melbourne now looked a formality. Clark miraculously bowls Costello for 19. Oh my word! The last man Baker scampers through for a single. Now it is one run for the tie, and only 2 runs needed for victory. Nerves are jangling, but Will Clark is as cool as an icy pole on a Siberian winter day. He calmly bowls Grigg to win the contest by one run as he is mobbed by jubilant teammates. The golden arm of Clark has taken three huge wickets to almost singlehandedly win a heart stopping encounter that seals a finals berth for the Celebrities!
The last round of the Home and Away season sees the A-Team take on Old Melbournians at Flack Oval in Port Melbourne, while the Celebrities play their return fixture against Melbourne at Beaumaris Secondary College.
Come on down and support the boys as they look to make this season one to remember. In the mean time...