Eynesbury Eagles overcame early nerves to seal victory in the Western Suburbs Churches & Community Cricket Association’s A.E. Lowe Shield grand final on Sunday.
The Eagles didn’t start well, despite clearly being the best team all season. West Melbourne was on fire with the bat early, and it looked like the Eagles were in for a long, tough struggle.
Eagles’ skipper Luke Castle said victory looked way off at tea on day one.
“To be honest … I thought we would be chasing 500,” he said. “We only had three players from last year’s grand final and, for a lot of players, it was their first grand final in a long time. There was definitely some nerves.”
Castle’s brother Hayden and Jason Compton produced spells after tea that turned the game on itself.
“They brought the game back to us,” he said.
“They bowled really tight. They had two really gun bats, and we had been bowling slightly off, and they kept picking us off. When we started bowling straight, we turned things around.”
The Eagles took 8-40 to bowl West Melbourne out for 217, a long way short of the 500 Castle thought they may have been chasing.
The Eagles started well and were 0-40 with two overs remaining on day one, when the skipper went out, making for a nervous second day watching from the sidelines.
Castle need not worry, with Tristian Francis and Hayden Castle standing up on the big stage. The two entered the match averaging 64 and 78 respectively. Francis had already made a century in the side’s semi-final win.
“They looked a million bucks,” Castle said. “Last year, Tristian failed in the grand final and I think he wanted to make amends. Credit to him, he produced the best innings I’ve seen this year, and we’ve made quite a few centuries and good scores.
“He couldn’t walk down the hallway of his house before the match due to a knee injury. He taped it up and managed to get the job done.”
Castle said Francis will have scans to determine the extent of the injury.
The Eagles made the runs with four wickets in hand (6-218) and more than a day’s play left.
For Castle, it was a special moment in his first season as coach after returning to his junior club. He had previously played in the Victorian Sub-district Cricket Association.
“It’s a credit to the committee and club for backing me in,” he said. “Jim Herlihy, the president, had faith in the 12 players we picked.
“It’s a relief. I had a lot of doubters early on, but I’m so thankful for the boys who helped me out to help get the job done.”