Hoppers Crossing rolled out celebrations usually reserved for grand final victories after Saturday’s unbelievable one-wicket win over St Bernard’s Old Collegians in the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association at Murphy Oval on Saturday.
When Brett Smith’s french cut fortuitously evaded the stumps and raced to the boundary for four, he sprinted down the wicket to embrace his captain-coach Greg Kennedy as if the Cats had just won a premiership.
The emotions came out for the Cats because this was undoubtedly their best win in Kennedy’s reign as leader and in their short time as a sub-district club.
Nobody gave the Cats a hope of chasing down a 319 target for victory, but they got there in the most dramatic fashion with one wicket in hand on the second last ball of the day.
“That was one of the great wins – it was so good,” Kennedy said.
“He ran down the wicket and jumped on me for a hug.
“It was pandemonium.
“We couldn’t have planned and executed it any better: one ball to spare, one wicket to spare, the top order set the platform and then everyone was able to chip away.”
Hoppers Crossing constructed its innings meticulously.
The Cats had a century maker in new recruit Nkosana Mpofu (116), got a half century out of Cameron Nicol (53), had four players – James Hook (38), Justin Goegan (28), Adrian Myers (24) and Brandon Diplock (21) – with 20-plus scores and a helping hand from tail-ender Smith (16 not out).
There were a positive feeling in the Cats’ camp leading into the daunting run chase and the positive stroke play followed.
“We weren’t sure we were going to win, but we thought we could win,” Kennedy said.
“We spoke positively within the group all week, set ourselves little targets and had plans and we ticked them all off.
“It was so satisfying to watch my team do that and it was such a great celebration, singing that song was so good.”
The sheer joy that came out for Hoppers Crossing stems from their struggles with the bat in recent seasons.
This could be the innings that gets the monkey off the back once and for all.
“To give our batsmen that confidence that we are a good team, we can make big scores, it’s just brilliant,” Kennedy said.
Mpofu was the star of the show for Hoppers Crossing.
In a club debut to remember, the Zimbabwean import entered the crease at 1-59 and survived and thrived until 9-311, getting to raise the bat for his ton in between.
“He was out there for about 250 of the runs,” Kennedy said.
“He set everything up, set the tempo early, absorbed the pressure that he had from some good bowling and when it got to needing eight an over for the last 15, he upped the ante and hit a couple of massive sixes up on to the hill.
“What a way to introduce yourself to a new bunch of club mates and a new competition to play such an amazing innings.”
Hoppers Crossing, 1-1 after two games, will return home on Saturday to face Ivanhoe in a Twenty20 game starting at 3.45pm.