Darley has claimed its first Ballarat Cricket Association T20 title with a nail-biting win against Napoleons-Sebastopol.
For much of Sunday’s grand final, the Lions were on the back foot and looked like they were heading for defeat.
Naps-Sebas were cruising midway through their innings, needing way less than a run a ball and had wickets in hand as they chased the Lions’ 9-112.
Enter Corey Beaton.
The youngster turned the game with a stunning spell.
Lions playing coach Michael Alexander said Beaton was clearly best on ground in the decider.
“He’s only a 17-year-old and he’s been fantastic all tournament,” Alexander said.
“They were 2-70 off 10 overs with about 40 to get and were in control.”
Beaton got the key wicket of danger man Brodie Symons.
“Corey got the key wicket,” Alexander said. “He’s an off-spinner and he got the guy that was going and ready to hit out. Once we got the wicket, we tried to make sure we got dot balls and put the pressure back on them – and the wickets started to fall.”
Beaton claimed 3-10 off his four overs, with Alexander saying Beaton’s form in the T20s had played a big role in him being picked to make his debut in the club’s first XI this season.
While Beaton turned the game, some of the side’s more experienced players finished it off.
The Naps-Sebas players still had the game in their hands when they needed about 24 off 30 balls.
“They were in front all day,” Alexander said. “It wasn’t until the last over, when they needed nine off it, [that] we were in front.
“Matt Cape and the two Sri Lankans [Anurruda Rajapaksha and Roshan Anuruddha] bowled the last five overs and executed them brilliantly. Locky Herring set some good fields with some good captaincy.”
The premiership is Darley’s first of any sort in the BCA.
Earlier in the day, the Lions won their semi-final with Wendouree one wicket down.
Wendouree made 113, with Matt Cape taking 3-17 and Beaton taking two wickets, including that of Tom Le Lievre, who top-scored for Wendouree. The Lions got the runs with an over to spare, making 1-114.
Alexander is hoping the T20 win will bring some much-needed confidence to the club’s first-grade side. On Saturday, the Lions lost a close one to Mt Clear and now sit sixth, 12 points outside the top four.
“Our bowling and fielding has been good, but we haven’t been able to nail the batting,” Alexander said.
“The loss on Saturday hurt us and now we have to win our last three matches and hope results go our way.”