Druids have moved through to the Victorian Turf Cricket Association division 1 west grand final after a blink-and-you-miss-it nine-wicket annihilation of Altona North.
While the semi-final at Shorten Reserve was scheduled to be played over two days, Druids were in a hurry, wrapping up the match inside a day and 61 overs.
For Druids captain Leigh Wilson and his teammates, it was a welcome, if slightly unusual, outcome.
“It was a bit of a strange day to be honest,” Wilson said. “The last couple of years we’ve sort of struggled at the semi-final point.
“This year, to get it done so quickly today, everyone is really happy and looking forward to the match coming up next week.”
Altona North must have rued its decision to bat after winning the toss.
North could muster only a painfully slow 67 off 50 overs. Anthony Frydas (18) and Domenic Di Guglielmo (10) were the only North players to hit double figures.
Sam Thurston was central to North’s demise.
The fast bowler was on-song with 5-32 off 25 overs.
“He’s one of those blokes that chugs in all day and keeps at the batsmen,” Wilson said.
“He was bowling a good line and length all day and was able to get a couple of nicks and restrict the scoring.”
It was a fun outing for Indi Gallage – the paceman snared three top-order wickets to finish with 3-6 off eight.
“It was a similar sort of effort to Sam,” Wilson said.
“They were both at the batsmen the whole time and really weren’t giving them any room to score the runs.
“False shots came because they had to try to make something out of nothing.”
There were two moments when Druids felt increasingly confident it would be their day.
The first wicket for the day saw a snick bobbled by the second slip fielder, but wicketkeeper Aasif Shaikh was able to sneak under for the catch.
Then came an incredible run-out when Shane Windridge ran in from gully and kicked the ball on to the stumps as the North batsman was short of his ground.
Wilson (36no) and Windridge (24no) steered Druids to victory in just 11 overs.
The footscray side is champing at the bit to rip into Airport West-St Christopher’s in the four-day grand final, starting on Saturday at Shorten Reserve. Druids are keen to atone for their finals mishaps in recent seasons.
“We’ve lost a final and two semis in the past three seasons, so to get to the grand final again – blokes realise this doesn’t come around too often,” Wilson said.
“We’ve definitely got a little bit of fire in the belly from those games.
“They’ve all been high-pressure games and we haven’t quite gotten over the line, but we’ve learnt from that and we’re able to take it into this year.”
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