Melton Centrals’ hard work has paid off, winning the Victorian Turf Cricket Association division 5 Russell Pollock Shield premiership.
The standout side all season, Centrals put it all out on the field when it mattered to claim a big win against Aberfeldie Park on Sunday.
Centrals captain-coach Adam Hulett said it was a surreal feeling.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said.
“It’s been 10 years since we won a first XI premiership and I was a part of that side.
“It’s been one of those seasons where everyone has contributed and there has been no passengers.
“Everyone has done exactly what was asked of them.”
After making 379 on the first weekend of the match, Centrals had the upper hand entering day three and four.
Hulett said while they thought they had enough runs on the board, they weren’t going to celebrate until they had that final wicket.
“It was never going to be easy, Aberfeldie Park is a good side and play a good brand of cricket.
“We were lucky we played better on the day.”
Centrals snared constant wickets through day three, but it wasn’t until late that they took control.
After resuming at 0-29, Aberfeldie Park was 7-178 at stumps.
“We got some wickets in the last six or seven overs and it was reward for the hard work throughout the day,” Hulett said.
“We bowled to a plan and the fielders backed them up.”
On day four, Centrals didn’t need long and their opening bowlers wrapped up the tail.
Aberfeldie was all out for 199.
Hulett said they were ecstatic when the last wicket fell.
“We were realistic up until we had taken the last three wickets that anything could happen,” he said.
“We had to stay level-headed. We could have taken the new ball on Saturday, [but] decided against it.
“We took it straight away [on Sunday] and the opening bowlers did the job in the first 20 overs.”
Mathew Murphy was the pick of the bowlers, taking 4-48.
Young Connor Poulton was named man of the match for his 88 on the first weekend.
Hulett said there were several players from both teams who could have won the award.
“It was an amazing innings to bat for 135 overs, let alone do it as a 16-year-old,” he said.
“He is a really special talent and I can not speak highly enough about him.
“He’s a super athlete now, imagine him in five to 10 years time.”
Hulett said winning a first XI premiership for a second time was just as good as the first.
He said this one they had to work a little bit harder to get the job done, which is credit to Aberfeldie Park.
Andrew Cristofaro and Murphy were also part of the last premiership team.
The premiership is Centrals’ first men’s premiership of any sorts for five years, when their third XI side claimed one.
Their women’s side claimed their first premiership earlier this season.
The win means that Centrals will likely earn promotion to division 4 for next season.
Hulett said it’s a challenge they welcome.
“It’s new teams to play against and new challenges ahead,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of talented cricketers here and there’s no reason why we can’t go back-to-back. If not at least go near it.”
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