1999-00 CTPL Season & Grand Final Review
A week before the semi-final round, the make-up of the TCA ladder had undergone a miraculous change. With the final round of roster matches to be played Kingborough was seventh behind New Town in fourth place, North Hobart (fifth) and Clarence (sixth), but the cards all fell for Kingborough and despite a Clarence outright win, a towering six by Michael Di Venuto off the second last ball of play in the Knights’ match against Glenorchy not only provided Kingborough with an outright win, but sufficient bonus points to nudge Clarence from the finals – a difference of 0.8 points. The final standings: Lindisfarne 98.32, University 96.84, SHSB 92.31 and Kingborough 80.92, with Clarence 80.11 edged into fifth place.
Comprehensive respective semi-final victories by Kingborough and University over minor premier Lindisfarne and SHSB set up an absorbing final. University, with 378/9, comfortably disposed of SHSB (218) and Kingborough, brilliantly led by state batsman Michael Di Venuto, overcame Lindisfarne’s 191 without difficulty – Di Venuto scoring 123* of his team’s 196/1.
By the end of play on the first day of the final, University, with disciplined bowling and fielding, and a steadying 3rd wicket partnership by skipper Brad Thomas and James Kingston in the final hour of play, had taken the points. After dismissing Kingborough for 197 in 74 overs, University recovered from the loss of Tony Daly (11) and Dene Hills (5) to be 72/2 at stumps.
Kingborough captain Michael Di Venuto had no hesitation deciding to bat as the Bellerive wicket looked full of runs, but the Lions struck early in the third over when Geoff Valentine edged an attempted drive from medium-pacer Brad Thomas into the safe hands of Daly at third slip. This dismissal brought Michael Di Venuto to the wicket and he and Stuart Clark looked solid in taking the score to 32 before Clark tried to leave a short rising ball outside the off-stump from paceman Josh Marquet but only succeeded in guiding it to Graeme Blundstone at slip.
Nathan Webb survived a hostile welcome from Marquet but just as he looked settled he fell to Thomas, also caught by Blundstone, for six, with the total on 59/3. Tim Scott joined Di Venuto who was playing a disciplined innings and they immediately lifted the run rate; Scott in particular looking in good touch as they reached 101/3 at lunch.
The introduction of medium-pacer Martin Brown into the attack after the break paid off when Scott edged a delivery to keeper Travis Prins to fall for 30 (four fours), which brought brothers Peter and Michael together, and they carried the score to 141 before Peter Di Venuto failed to get over a short ball from Marquet and holed out to Brown at deep square leg for two.
Brown was in the action again the next over when he enticed Michael Di Venuto to flick a ball off his hip, and Simon Ancher took a good diving catch running in from fine leg. It ended a fine innings by Di Venuto who batted for 157 for his 89 off 132 balls, including 14 fours.
At 144/6, David Collins and Gerard Denton tried to halt the collapse but Marquet finally beat Collins for pace as he played on to be out for 18. Denton fell after tea for a stubborn 18, caught at short leg off leg-spinner Joshua Bean, while Shannon Bakes ended the innings by claiming both Robert Hodgson and Richard Pride down the leg side in his ninth over.
Marquet was the best of the bowlers, sustaining pace to finish with 3/51 from 23 overs.
In reply the Students struggled at the outset – Daly had an early life when dropped by Clark but then failed to take advantage of the let-off by holing out to Peter Di Venuto in the covers two overs later. Robert Hodgson then claimed the prize wicket of Hills to have University 30/2 before the Kingston/Thomas stand re-established University’s authority.
Resuming the following morning, Kingborough’s Jamie Knott and Hodgson applied enormous pressure; sadly the fielders couldn’t support them, Thomas was given a life in the fourth over after adding six to his overnight score, dropped by Collins in the slips: but his partner Kingston (24) became the first casualty when he pushed a ball from Hodgson into the safe hands of Michael Di Venuto at short cover with the score at 85/3.
Graeme Blundstone edged Knott to wicketkeeper Eric Monaghan after making four runs and the Lions teetered at 104/4. The situation did not improve with the loss of Thomas (61) and Bakes (11) and, with the score at 131/6, lunch was a welcome relief all round. By mid-afternoon there was still hope for the Knights; following the dismissal of Ancher, who patiently contributed ten runs in a telling 28-runs partnership with Mike Smith, with forty runs still needed and only three wickets to fall, the game was in the balance.
Enter Martin Brown; he and Mike Smith held firm against everything the Kingborough attack could throw at them in an unbeaten 39-run 8th wicket stand. It was fitting that Brown, man of the match, hit the winning runs to remain 31* with Smith 25* as University reached 198/7 in the 76th over. Kingborough did not help its cause by dropping vital catches and missing close run-outs but still made University earn its victory in a tense struggle.
University captain Brad Thomas praised his lower order. “We set up the game on the first day when we bowled well to dismiss Kingborough for 197 but we were in trouble by lunch and it took a fighting effort from Simon Ancher, Brown and Smith to get us home.”
Mercury reporter – Colin Chung