In a controversial move, with nearly all cricket across the country cancelled on the weekend of March 21st and 22nd, the Mercantile Cricket Association (MCA) decided to continue with their grand finals against strong advice from cricket’s leading governing bodies regarding coronavirus. The MCA A Grade grand final was contested between South Yarra and Parkville District, with umpire Leon Jacobs noting “We’re a very independent competition and our executive likes to do things differently.”
“Umpires and captains received very strict guidelines, stricter than those in the community. As an umpire you were expected to police these things as best we could and still umpire the game. The players did as best they could, the batsmen didn’t have their mid pitch conversations, they had to stay 1.5 metres apart. There were about ten spare balls of different ages ready in case a mid off fielder or someone slipped up and used their saliva to shine the ball.” Who would’ve thought we’d ever be playing cricket in such circumstances, is this a sign of things to come?
Will Fraser-Smith was the star of the show taking 8-26 to cap off a spectacular A Grade season in the MCA that saw him take 37 wickets @ 9.89, including two eight wicket hauls. South Yarra’s whopping 218 run grand final victory looked more than improbable on day one of the contest when they had slumped to 4-24 from 23 overs.
There was some good seam movement off the pitch coupled with really accurate fast bowling from Parkville District. Archie Macpherson, who made 92 in the semi final, was in the sheds for a 20 ball duck, “They (South Yarra) were definitely in trouble on that first day.”
Josh Deniet and Tim Rawlinson then really knuckled down and tried to rebuild the innings, slowly inching South Yarra back into the contest. The first 14 overs of their partnership yielding just 16 runs. As they got settled Rawlinson started to play his shots and was the aggressor of the partnership, starting to swing the momentum back in South Yarra’s favour. Deniet became bogged down and started to struggle leading into lunch. He was eventually caught behind to the left arm orthodox of Lewis Catlow for a hard fought 37 with South Yarra in a much more dominant position at 5-118 from 57 overs, the partnership of Deniet and Rawlinson worth 94.
Adam Coetzee came in at number seven and picked up where Deniet left off but unfortunately it was only a few overs until Rawlinson was back in the pavilion as well. Caught behind off Nathan Green he departed with a valuable 62 that included 7 fours and a lone six.
With the dangerous Rawlinson gone and two new batsman at the crease Parkville District were back on top of the ever-changing contest but not for long. Coetzee was batting with the tail well and the bowling was starting to fatigue. The second new ball was taken after 80 overs and William Richardson really took on Richard Brown, batting aggressively and going over the top a few times.
South Yarra were eventually bowled out 259 from 102.4 overs, Coetzee finishing on 66 not out with 9 fours and a six. Although South Yarra managed to make 259 it was a really solid bowling performance from Parkfield District where everyone bowled well, Andrew and Nathan Green had three wickets apiece, Sean Wilson and Lewis Catlow finished with two.
Parkville District were given the undesirable task of having to face just one over to see out the days play and two balls in solid opener Chris Thomson was trapped lbw by Fraser-Smith leaving them 1-0 chasing 259.
Leon recalled “I felt if the wicket continued to seam, with runs on the board in a grand final, South Yarra were going to be hard to beat.”
It was a really hard fought tight contest on day one but day two was a completely different story as Will Fraser-Smith tore through Parkville District. At one stage they were reduced to 7-21 with all 7 wickets taken by him, “he’s bowling 125+km/h with natural outswing, at this level with his swing, height and bounce, he’s just too quick and unplayable, he was on track to take all 10.” Parkville would limp to 41 before the match was sealed with a run out from South Yarra skipper Ryan Hanna, the top score of the innings being just 8.