Yarraville has underlined its strength in cricket’s shortest format after booking its place in the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association Twenty20 final four for a second consecutive season.
The Eagles will be the west group’s representative after a dominant 27-run win over Altona in a quarter-final at Grant Reserve last month.
Eagles player-coach Matthew Love said his team was ecstatic to be part of the final four.
Both semi-finals and the final will be played on February 11.
“It’s a good way, the way they do it,” Love said. “They play the semi-finals and then the grand final soon after, so it makes for a really big day. Last year, we got done in the semis, so we’ll focus on that when it gets a bit closer and hope to go one step better.”
Twenty20 cricket has become a favourite summer pastime for Australians since the arrival of the popular Big Bash League, but opportunities for local cricketers to play the fast-paced game remain limited.
The VSDCA’s Twenty20 games are played mainly as twilight mid-week matches, leaving the weekends to be dominated by one-day and two-day cricket.
Love admits that preparation for the 20-overs-a-side games is rushed and there is more of an emphasis on the fun aspect, even if the competition is fierce.
“It can be hard to prepare properly because a lot of guys are getting there straight after work and it’s a bit of a relaxed scenario,” he said. “Once you walk out onto the field, it’s all go that’s for sure. There’s a lot of Twenty20 cricket on TV these days. It’s all positive cricket – it’s fearless and you really do want to play as much of it as possible.”
Love says the standard of Twenty20 captaincy continues to improve.
“We’re getting much of our knowledge strategically from watching it on TV,” Love said. “The captains are definitely very busy.”
Yarraville’s quarter-final victory was set up by Joe Billings, who carved out a well constructed 54.
The Eagles made 8-153 off their 20 overs, a total Altona never looked likely to chase down.
“It was a smart innings from Joe,” Love said. “He utilised the short boundary well.”
Altona, restricted to 9-126 off its 20 overs, was stopped in its tracks by superb bowling from Alex Hewet, who made the ball dance en route to claiming with three wickets.
“He swings the ball no matter what format he plays,” Love said.
“He’s hard to handle, so he was pivotal up
the top and getting some early scalps was crucial.”