The locals will be talking about Saturday’s incredible turn of events forever at the Taylors Lakes Cricket Club.
The day the Lions gatecrashed the finals in their inaugural Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association season will go down in club folklore – no matter how deep their finals run goes.
The Lions needed a miracle on the final day of the season and the cricket gods granted their wish.
Not even the most optimistic Taylors Lakes fan would have given their side a chance of reaching the finals after the side was bowled out for 75 by an Altona team with premiership aspirations and after winning the toss and batting on a Lionheart Reserve deck that had been batsman-friendly all summer.
That Taylors Lakes needed not one, not two, but three rival clubs to lose on the day seemed of little consequence because everyone had written the Lions off at the halfway mark of their own match.
But the Taylors Lakes players battled on and never lost faith.
With his team having so few runs on the board, Lions captain Michael Brne needed to be bold and go for the jugular.
Brne called on his two leading wicket-takers, spinner Jarrod Wakeling and opening bowler Yoshan Kumara, to bring their best wicket-taking balls to the table and create some uncertainty in the Altona batting line-up – and it worked a treat.
Altona was skittled for 59.
Wakeling, who took eight-for in the previous match, finished with the match-winning figures of 5-24 off nine overs.
Kumara was superb with 2-23 off nine before Mark McLachlan (1-9) and Dilan Chandima (2-3) completed an unlikely victory.
Lions coach Kris McMullin was thrilled by the bowling effort.
“We won the toss and didn’t hesitate to bat first, but to be bowled out for 75 was a pretty disappointing result,” he said. “The way we fought back with the ball was fantastic. We had them under pressure from the start and continued getting wickets.”
Of course, a Taylors Lakes win was only a skerrick of what was needed for the team to feature in the finals.
In order to leap-frog three places into the finals, they needed Croydon, Melton and Bayswater to lose.
One by one they fell – and suddenly the Lions’ dream became a reality.
“It was pandemonium when we got that final result through that Bayswater had beaten Croydon,” McMullin said.
“Once we heard that result, we walked out on to the balcony – the whole club was there, and we said, ‘We’re in’ and everyone just went bananas. It was a terrific moment, one of the best days I’ve been involved with at this cricket club. For our lower grades, it’s been a bit of a struggle this season, but all six of our senior teams won, too, so it was an absolutely brilliant day.”
Taylors Lakes, which replaced Sunshine in sub-district cricket and got laughed at by some jealous opposition clubs that said the Lions would have no hope of being competitive in their first season at the higher level, will take its place in the finals on Saturday when it travels to face minor premier Williamstown.
The odds are stacked against the Lions – but they surely can’t be any worse than they were about 2pm last Saturday.
McMullin insists the Lions are not there to make up the numbers.
“We’re going to go into this game full of confidence, knowing that we gave Williamstown a real shake only six weeks ago and they only just got us,” McMullin said.