Greg Peters Is Captain Courageous
A spanking innings from Valley skipper Greg Peters and a brutal bowling assault by Shane Westlow enabled Moonee Valley to win its fifth Luscombe Shield by burying Hadfield inside three days at the picturesque Donnybrook Recreation Reserve.
Other highlights included a steady innings from Craig Brown and a record-breaking five dismissals for the ‘keeper Greg Meyers.
After being bottom of the ladder mid-season, Hadfield won nine games in succession to meet Moonee Valley in the Grand Final. Its incredible run of victories included a comprehensive thrashing of Moonee Valley in the penultimate round. The Valleys had lost their last three matches prior to a nail-biting win against Pascoe Vale in the semi-final.
Greg Peters won the toss and spent less than one thousandth of one microsecond deciding whether to bat or bowl first. As usual, the Valley's plans were to rearrange the team's batting order to suit the demands of a Grand Final and thus, it was Darren Nagle and Sandro Capocchi who were entrusted with the task of getting the team's innings away.
Sandro was the first to go, but not before the pair had added a creditable 29. Semi-final hero Craig Brown joined Spud and set about playing the way that was required of him. At 42, Moonee Valley lost Nagle and Warwick Nolan joined the action. When he was dismissed at 64, the Valleys were in a touch of trouble. Not that Moonee Valley had never recovered from trouble before. Enter Michael Harvey.
He and Brown batted for a further two hours, adding 70 and wresting the advantage away from the opposition. Harvey was playing splendidly, and the Hadfield attack didn't seem to have any answers. Browny's 193-minute contribution came to an end 45 minutes before stumps. A disciplined and focussed player, Browny had carried our team's hopes with distinction during the semi-final and had now repeated the dose when it mattered most. When he fell to the leg spin of Gleisner, the Valleys were 4 for 134.
With less than hour until stumps and a new ball looming, an ordinary player may be applauded for looking to play with restraint as he passes his half century. But Michael Harvey will never be described as an ordinary player will he?
Michael Harvey continued to spank the attack and, with Eggers, piled on the runs - leaving the team at 172 at stumps.
Day two beckoned as the day to secure the premiership.
Having had some experience and some success in these situations, Egbert knows that there are times to defend in a Grand Final and there are times to attack. (Not that he ever succumbed too much to the attraction of the former.) He strode to the crease to resume his innings and immediately took control of the throttle. The Valleys added 34 in even time, in which Denny contributed 29. His demise heralded predictable relief amongst the Hadfield supporters.
At 5 for 205, the game was not yet safe. But Hadfield had been seriously wounded by the onslaught and dangerous cracks had appeared in the opposition's resolve. When Harvey's magnificent innings of 78 came to an end shortly before the first drinks break, the Valleys had drooped to 219 for six.
Skipper Greg Peters had only the tail to keep him company. The stage was set for the innings of his lifetime. Allrounder Paul Nicol joined the Cockroach, and batted steadily while the skipper accumulated some clever runs.
Moonee Valley was a particularly healthy 265 when Nicol was dismissed. It had been an important partnership and Peters was feeling the pressure as he approached his own half century. Picking the moment to perfection, skipper Greg Peters launched a brutal assault on all the Hadfield bowlers and raced past his 50.
Hadfield was now vulnerable and Peters sensed this. He jumped down the wicket twice in one over from English, and thumped the Hadfield quick to the fence. This was fast becoming one of the truly great Moonee Valley innings. Scott McLeod, after a cautious start, soon joined his skipper in the carnival. Both players pulverised the opposition.
The pair added 92 in more or less even time, and now the target had bloated to enormity and the Valleys still had wickets in hand. When skipper Peters mode the devil's number, McLeod was out. The veteran Greg Meyers joined his friend and skipper with the Valleys clearly in the box seat. The focus of the match had now turned to Peters' century.
It is strangely memorable that Greg's innings ended just short of a well-deserved ton. Curiously, however, any short-term disappointment at missing a ton was soon replaced by a long-term satisfaction in playing an innings that ensured a premiership. The skipper's hand had all but buried Hadfield.
Set a mammoth target of 370, the Hadfield openers had an hour of Westlow and Nagle to look forward to. The Valleys were to experience more joy in a day full of rejoicing when Westlow and Meyers combined to eject Gleisner. Hadfield had the whole week to ponder the huge chase from 1 for 22.
Night watchman, Iezzi was still there after an hour on the third day. In that time, Muscat had been very smartly caught by Peters to give Westy his second wicket.
Hadfield had three batting guns - the laconic and cavalier Darren Carton who had experienced much success over the years against Moonee Valley; captain John Cotter, who had already thrashed us about Martin Reserve earlier in the month; and Cameron Don, fresh from a match-winning semi-final century against the all-powerful Craigieburn.
In the pre-match planning, skipper Peters had indicated that it was really about time that we spanked this Hadfield team who had beaten us quite regularly in recent years - the most lamentable of those losses being a semi-final at Ormond Park only two years earlier.
Within this plan, Shane Westlow was to be the pointed end of our really big stick. Peters' leadership, as usual, was outstanding.
Westy bowled perfectly. He bowled with fire and venom, and resented every run which was squeezed between the almost impregnable field. For an hour, only Westy and short leg Warwick Nolan were forward of the wicket. From the other end, Darren Nagle and Ian Denny were the ideal foils. Miserly and dangerous, Nagle had only 10 runs taken from his first 12 overs. Denny continued the job, bowling his first 15 overs for only 10 runs. Peters, and his pointed stick Westlow, were about to puncture Hadfield permanently.
The three Hadfield stars each fell to Westy in a heavenly half hour. The first from yet another splendid Greg Peters catch, the second caught by the ever reliable Schuma and a marvellous Michael Harvey grab condemned the dangerous Cameron Don to the "From Chocolates to Boiled Lollies" club. Hadfield was now 5 for 60 and Westlow had all five.
Somehow the innocuous Iezzi had survived the entire barrage and had inconspicuously climbed into double figures. He and Agius set about restoring some form of order but the Valley attack was primed and threw everything at the pair. To their credit, the two Hadfield batsmen were able to play with the application required and survived for over an hour and a half.
The defiant Iezzi was now cutting the shorter Westlow deliveries and gliding them to the vacant third man boundary. The Cockroach set the short third man trap for him but the Hadfield night watchman was too disciplined to take the bait. Scott McLeod was brought into the game. After a memorable partnership with his skipper in the Moonee Valley innings, Scott disposed of Agius with a splendid yorker. Within the hour, a flat McLeod return from mid-on found Crooks out of his ground and Hadfield was now 7 for 127.
Peters pulled another masterstroke at this stage. He rested the hardworking Westlow and introduced the straight breaks of Ian Denny. Incredibly, he had immediate success when he tempted Jace Carton to swing and he was easily stumped by a gleeful Greg Meyers.
Ian Denny was now unbearable and Maltezos had to wait four minutes before facing his first delivery because Egbert had not had time to explain to everyone (including umpire Keith Stringer at square leg) how the ball had dipped and tucked and zipped and looped before deceiving the batsman. Well kept Greg Meyers?
The last two wickets threw caution to the wind and belted the attack around in a 36 minute onslaught. Westlow was brought back into the attack to finish them off, which he did, but not before English hit the biggest six of all time over point. Inevitably, he was out, caught by Scott McLeod in the next over and Moonee Valley were premiers.
The flurry of runs in the last half hour only served to thinly disguise the absolute belting that Hadfield had received in this game.
It also unfairly drew focus away from a splendid innings from the nuggety night watchman Iezzi. He had battled throughout the entire match for his team: Firstly behind the stumps and then virtually throughout the entire Hadfield innings. His unbeaten 53 is one of the better knocks that the Valleys have had to contend with in a finals match.
But all congratulations to the Valley boys. Back-to-back premierships and an outstanding team performance when it counted most.
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