Talented team toughs it out
TALENTED TEAM TOUGHS IT OUT
It would have been easy for the players in Moonee Valley’s Under 12 Gold team to drop their heads and allow themselves to be run all over.
After all, coach Kevin Gardiner and four of the better-performed players in the team were absent from the Grand Final side, unavoidably detained by long-standing holiday commitments.
Without John Gardiner, who won the club’s batting award, David Royle, who won the bowling award, Terry Gardiner, who won the fielding award and Rising Star Hugh Alexander, the team could have psyched themselves into losing.
But did they? No way! They piled on their highest score for the season and won the 2005/06 Under 12 G Premiership over Keilor in a canter.
The victorious Under 12 team celebrate down at Fairbairn Park. L-R: Luke Intagliata (front), Brendan Dowd, Sean Ross, David Heyes, assistant coach Peter Gardiner, Michael Intagliata, Abhinna Acharya (front), Joshua Rennex, Paul Bannister, Mitchell Evans, Joshua Chang and Amelia Radford.
With brother Kevin absent, assistant coach Peter Gardiner took over the reins and directed the team brilliantly – as we would expect from anyone who has played 234 games for Moonee Valley and is a life member.
We had to get special dispensation from the NWCA to promote two players from the Under 10s to make up the 11 – Joshua Rennex, who was only one game away from the minimum requirement of four weeks to automatically qualify for the team, and Paul Bannister, up for his first game in Under 12s.
Keilor, meanwhile, was confident.
Moonee Valley won the toss and PG elected to bat – which went against his advice all season. He reasoned that if Keilor batted and got away to a flier, the game could be all over. But if Moonee Valley was able to post a reasonable score, we could defend it.
He was right. Valleys opened with Abhinna Acharya and Amelia Radford, and the sight of a girl confidently playing shots off their opening bowlers had Keilor rattled.
They began spraying no-balls – 10 off the first four overs, and 60 for the innings – and that helped relieve the pressure off the Valleys and keep the scoreboard ticking over. We had 23 runs off the first six overs, which had us on target for a competitive total. PG thought a score of 100 off the 28 overs would give us a big chance.
Abhinna and Amelia retired, to be replaced by Josh Rennex and Joshua Chang. Still the runs kept flowing. Josh and Joshua then retired to bring in Sean Ross and Luke Intagliata.
Sean was prominent with his brilliant backing up and excellent running between wickets, and this upped the scoring tempo. Luke retired, bringing in cousin Michael Intagliata, and the big middle-order hitting commenced.
Sean was in double figures when Michael came to the crease, but Michael beat him to the 25 compulsory retirement mark with some lusty shots, including three fours. Sean’s last shot before retirement was a four, giving him an unbeaten 28 two weeks running in the finals.
David Heyes and Brendan Dowd then came together, and both were run out going for quick runs.
Tellingly, our first wicket fell with the score at 122, in the 20th over. The damage had been done by then. Mitchell Evans came in, then new player Paul Bannister showed why he has had such good wraps from the Under 10 coaches.
Abhinna and Amelia came back in to put on some extra runs, and we finished the 28 overs having lost just the two wickets for the excellent total of 153.
Keilor knew it had its work cut out for it.
We opened the bowling with the Intagliatas, knowing that Keilor would try to get after our openers. Disaster struck for Keilor in the second over, with one of the openers run out by Amelia Radford.
Sean Ross was first change, and bowled the No. 3 batsman with the second ball of his first over. The score was 2/23 in the sixth over. Sean then bowled the No. 4 bat in his second over – 3/33.
We kept the bowlers ticking over, while Keilor tried to stay in the match. David Heyes came in as the No. 6 bowler, and picked up two vital wickets in his second over – the opener off the fourth ball, and the new batsman stumped by Abhinna two balls later.
At 5/53, Keilor was in trouble. It then lost two more wickets with the score on 61 – a smart Michael Intagliata run out, and then their top scorer (13) bowled by Josh Rennex.
They pushed the score along, in the face of some wonderfully accurate bowling from Moonee Valley and some patches of brilliance in the field. Amelia achieved another run out with the score on 82, and 10 runs later Luke Intagliata threw down the wicket at the bowler’s end despite having only one stump to aim at.
With the score at 9/92, Moonee Valley with just five overs to go, Moonee Valley knew it had the premiership in the bag. Keilor defended grimly and inched the score along, but with the first ball of the 28th and final over Joshua Rennex fittingly took the last wicket to give Moonee Valley a deserved win, 2/153 over Keilor’s 111.
Four run outs and a stumping demonstrated that all Moonee Valley’s players were focused during the pressure cooker of a time that is a grand final.
Senior coach Tony Gleeson spoke after the win, and was greatly impressed with the fielding. He said the fielders wanted the ball to come to them, were confident and were exceptional. He congratulated the team for its efforts – and for winning Moonee Valley’s only flag for the 2005/06 season.
It was a sensational victory and a wonderful season considering where Moonee Valley’s Fourth Eleven had been at the start of the season. It was only a couple of weeks before the first match that we determined that we had too many players for our three planned sides, and Kevin Gardiner was pressed into service as a last-minute coach.
Of the 14 regular players in the side, 10 had never played competitive club cricket before this season. Three were first year up from the Under 10s, and Josh Rennex was still an Under 10 playing up a grade. And along with Paul Bannister, they now all have a Premiership medallion to prove that hard work and listening to the coach really can pay off.
Kevin and Peter got them to the top of the ladder where they stayed most of the season, with Keilor the only team that really looked like a challenge.
Sean Ross was fittingly the player of the finals for his batting, bowling, fielding and running efforts, and Michael Intagliata was a worthy runner up for doing the work with the bat when it counted.
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