For the 24 hours prior to Saturday, March 15th, weather forecasts were very closely monitored.
It was a day of firsts for the Box Hill Reporter District Cricket Association to start the Grand Final weekend. Not only were the patrons at the ground witness to a high quality game, but so were people at home or on mobile, courtesy of a live streaming service.
Blackburn’s Morton Park played host to the McIntosh Shield and McIntosh Shield seconds grand finals. The path to get there for Forest Hill, Vermont, East Burwood and Box Hill North had been six months of training, hard work on the field and positive attitudes.
Skies over the ground threatened to burst at any moment, putting the onus on the spectators to be prepared to rug up, and on the umpires to keep the surface safe.
McIntosh Shield One
Forest Hill v Vermont
Forest Hill 2/225 (B. Johnston 104*, J. Taun-Henderson 83*, Ward 1/31) from 69.1 overs v Vermont
Umpires: Phil Hermann and Jeremy Beard
Forest Hill were highly confident at the toss, and it showed when captain Ben Johnston chose to bat without hesitation. The choice paid off. Morton Park’s top ground looked pristine, and the Zebras looked to take full advantage.
Hearts were in mouths early, however, when Charles Erasmus received a beautiful ball that kept low from Mitch Scott, trapping the opener LBW for just four. Brad Greer joined his captain and proceeded to build a platform in the 80 over innings.
It wasn’t long after drinks that Greer became the second Vermont scalp of the day at 2/68. That was to be the end of it for Vermont in terms of the wickets. Johnston and Jarryd Taun-Henderson slowly but surely frustrated the Eagles, much to the delight of the Forest Hill contingent in the building crowd.
By working the gaps, the pair built a 152 run stand – but were also gifted by Vermont dropping some sharp chances in the field. Conditions warmed up, and the outfield became a nightmare for the Eagles, as defensive pushes ran to the fence.
Unfortunately, the dark clouds returned around 5pm – and the umpires called the game off due to bad light. With an early start expected on day two, Forest Hill are well poised to tee off and really put the challenge to Vermont.
McIntosh Shield Two
East Burwood v Box Hill North
East Burwood 89 (44 overs) v Box Hill North Super Kings 1/100 (Sim 46, Carusi 45) from 22.2 overs
Umpires: Patrick Lambert and Jack Ballantyne
Back in Round 9 of the season, East Burwood compiled a score above 300 against Templestowe on the back of a century from Captain Chris May. Similar conditions to the Ones greeted the competitors for the Shield Twos grand final at Blackburn, and from the start the line Box Hill North bowled was both tight and frustrating for East Burwood.
Chris May managed 26, but found himself out to a miscued pull shot before drinks, with the score on 3/38. Time was on East Burwood’s side; Box Hill North had other ideas. Gavin Carusi and Rasika Samarathunga began the assault, and the pressure really began to build. By tea, the scoreline was 7/80 – with several batsmen having walked off fuming at a bad shot or receiving a jaffa of a delivery.
Falling to the sword for 89 just after tea, and the light failing, Box Hill North came out and conquered. Steve Carusi batted beautifully, to the delight of his teammates, and in conjunction with David Sim took the score to 89 before a miscommunication saw the first wicket fall.
Not long after, the umpires called stumps with the light fading. East Burwood must come back next Saturday and attempt to skittle Box Hill North to avoid an outright loss.
There were plenty of spectators – and even some of the players – hesitant about play at the start of the day. In the end the excitement meant that weather was a distant afterthought for quite some time. Spectators were not only from the competing teams, but from numerous other sides in the association.
Patron of the association Margaret McIntosh, who sported bright orange hair, has been a figurehead in recent grand finals. The live streaming was no simple task either – a whole crew was required to operate the cameras, microphones and equipment.
Next Saturday looks to be much brighter on the forecast, and Forest Hill will be itching to take charge of the match, with 10 overs to bat. Box Hill North can further their lead and make a victory even sweeter.