Ian Denny the Destroyer
A superb century and a seven wicket haul was the amazing contribution by the mercurial Ian Denny as Moonee Valley defeated St. Christophers to win the 1991/92 Luscombe Shield. Ably supported by a brilliant century from Bill Loughron, the pair all but destroyed St. Christophers’ chances with a devastating partnership of 178 runs in just over two hours.
On the opening Saturday, the weather was overcast but fine. The Campbellfield ground was in superb condition, apart from slight dampness, a legacy of some the overnight drizzle. Greg Peters won an important toss and elected to get the runs on the board first. Darren Nagle and Michael Harvey opened the innings for the Valley. Demon spin bowler Thompson surprisingly shared the new ball, and he drew first blood early in the game when he was able to beat Michael Harvey with one of his left arm in-swingers.
Warwick Nolan joined Nagle who had been batting with great determination. Nagle had hit a pair of crashing boundaries but he lost his wicket just when he was looking particularly dangerous, getting an edge off Doyle.
After half an hour, Moonee Valley had lost both openers and the semi-final centurion Robert Lamberti came to the wicket to join Nolan, who had not yet scored. The pair absorbed all the pressure directed at them by the opposition. Nolan punctuated his determined defence with a towering pull for six off Doyle and a lovely cover drive off Thompson for four.
Lamberti was driving effortlessly and St. Christophers was forced to defend with a deep mid off and a deep mid on when he was on strike. The pair looked to be in complete control and, despite the tight bowling and some excellent fielding, Moonee Valley went to tea at two for 57.
It was after tea that Moonee Valley began to stamp their authority on the game. Lamberti was playing beautifully and 39 runs came in the first half an hour after the interval. His innings was full of style and technique, highlighted by clever placement. Against the run of play, Needham beat Lamberti for pace and his wicket was lost when adjudged leg before.
It was a crucial time in the game. Captain Greg Peters joined Nolan and immediately went onto the attack. He was particularly harsh on Needham, who was punished for drifting onto his pads twice in one over. The pair added valuable runs before Peters mistimed a drive off Brown and was easily caught in the covers. Bill Loughron came to the crease under enormous pressure and he joined Nolan who was nearing his half century.
The Valleys were travelling well until Nolan was caught short of his ground after a fine throw by Brown from the mid off boundary. It was a sad end for Nolan and to an innings that promised to be a big one.
At 5 for 150 and an hour to go until stumps, it was clear that the critical period of the match was upon us. The dangerous Ian Denny joined the fray and popular opinion considered that if St. Christophers was to pick up his wicket tonight then their advantage may be a matchwinner. It was apparent however, that Denny was not going to be intimidated by the circumstances of the match or the occasion and he soon showed that he was prepared to play the game the only way he knows.
Denny went after the bowling in a fashion that has made him the most feared opponent in the Luscombe Shield. Anything short was pounded through mid wicket, anything too full was smashed down the ground and anything on the stumps was caressed back down the pitch to the bowler. Loughron was playing a clever innings for his side too, recognising his role to support the free-flowing Denny. The pair added 99 runs in the last hour of play, including consecutive boundaries by Denny off the last two balls of play. Lesser men may have been content to just defend their wicket in the last over of a day.
The first two hours of play was lost the next morning due to a light drizzle. Loughron and Denny resumed their partnership after the delay and battled on for another hour. Denny surprised most spectators with a very controlled display until his innings came to an end, but not before he had completed a masterful century. When he departed, Moonee Valley was well placed at 328 for 6. His partnership with Loughron had added an amazing 178 runs in just 126 minutes.
The team now looked to Loughron to take command of the innings. He didn't let his team down. Steve Marshall joined him and the pair batted superbly, consistently frustrating the opposition with their sound defence and their ability to really punish the loose delivery. They added a priceless 46 runs in the next hour, including the single that gave Loughron his hundred – his second against this opposition for the season.
Loughron's innings was a combination of clever placement, effective aggression and solid defence. The innings contained very few risks.
The last four wickets fell in just half an hour, with Marshall undefeated at the end. His innings will be remembered for its extremely valuable contribution to the team. While Marshall was at the crease, a further 69 runs were added. Greg Meyers, a proven performer in big games fell cheaply to Needham, Terry Nagle offered a simple return catch to Brown and Jude Perera was stumped after striking a couple of blows through the covers. But make no mistake, the total of 397 was a good one.
The St. Christophers innings began at an awkward 20 minutes to 6. but bad light ensured that the run chase would have to continue the next week.
The third day was rather hot and the outfield quite fast, much more so than that of the previous drizzly weekend. The bowlers knew that St. Christophers would be a tough team to dismiss. New ball bowlers Darren Nagle and Jude Perera had only bowled four overs between them when they opened the attack last week, so it was quite a surprise to see Greg Peters call Ian Denny into the attack.
Such astute captaincy was rewarded with a wicket in each of the champion's first two overs: Greg Meyers juggling a fine catch from Wilson and then Jones had his stumps rearranged by an in-swinging yorker.
For the next two hours, skipper Anthony Brown and Preston set about rebuilding the opposition's innings. The pair battled against some accurate bowling. Preston was playing with plenty of discipline and, although not scoring heavily, it was obvious that he was not going to be an easy man to shift. Brown was batting beautifully although he had offered a couple of half chances.
The breakthrough came just five minutes before the tea interval. Brown's attempted on drive found a leading edge which was lifted high into the air where Harvey ran 25 metres from short leg to complete a sprawling catch at mid wicket. It was a fine catch and a vital wicket for the Valley.
After tea, Lambert pulverised the bowling. He was looking extremely dangerous and, with Preston as stout as ever at the other end, St. Christophers was always going to be in the game while he was at the crease.
A punishing six from Lambert, followed by another boundary stirred Jude Perera up and he provided his captain with some genuine pace and lift from the southern end. Recognising this, Greg Peters sent Bill Loughron to short third man and was promptly rewarded with the much-needed wicket of Lambert just three deliveries later. When Perera forced Richie Brown to pop a catch to Michael Harvey at short leg and a short time later Ian Denny removed the stubborn Preston courtesy of a fine Greg Peters grab at second slip, the wheels had fallen off the opposition. At 176 for 6, St. Christophers was in trouble.
Allen and Corboy decided to go after the bowling and gave Moonee Valley plenty to worry about. They combined controlled aggression with excellent defence and looked to be in no trouble at all when the stumps were drawn with the score on 206. St. Christophers was a side with a well-deserved reputation for making big scores - and there was plenty of batting talent left to make the required runs.
The Moonee Valley side spent a very anxious evening wondering how they were going to remove the remaining opposition batsmen.
But 397 is a big total and much to The Valleys' relief, the premiership was sealed after just 30 minutes with the new ball the next morning. Warwick Nolan accepted a bat pad off Denny and Greg Meyers caught Doyle for a duck in the same over. Some big hitting by Corboy and Needham only delayed the inevitable. It was Bill Loughron, strategically placed at short third man yet again, who took a comfortable catch to give Darren Nagle a well-deserved wicket.
Fittingly however, it was Ian Denny who delivered the knockout blow when he bowled Thompson with his leg cutter, giving him the magnificent figures of 7 for 88 from 28 overs and securing the premiership.
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