1994-95 CTPL Seasoin & Grand Final Review
It was a quirk of co-incidence that saw North Hobart play New Town and Clarence meet Kingborough in the semi-final round after the same four teams met each other in the final roster round. In the last round, New Town 374/8 drew its match with North 277/4; and Kingborough easily accounted for Clarence, suggesting both lower placed finalists had a distinct psychological advantage over their accredited rivals.
Bonus points added to the intrigue of the ladder ratings: North Hobart 136.35, Clarence 117.04, Kingborough 110.67 and New Town 105.65 were well ahead of the bottom half of the competition.
The finals series proved to be more interesting and exciting than any of the preceding thirty-nine, with nail-biting outcomes in each match.
In the semi-finals Kingborough bowled itself into contention at New Town when the wheels fell off the Clarence juggernaut; at 147/1 Clarence looked set for a big score but collapsed to lose 7/42 with three wickets falling at 189. Michael Granger and Stuart Oliver, destined to become two of Clarence’s finals’ heroes, pulled the Roos out of the hole the next morning with a precious 38-run 9th wicket partnership to lift Clarence to 231/9. Needing no more than three runs an over in the run-chase, Kingborough failed by a mere four runs. Top score in its innings of 227 was opener Stuart Clark with 92.
North Hobart stormed its way into the final, looking to make it four premierships on end, on the back of a defiant innings by its keeper Todd Pinnington. Having dismissed New Town overnight for 194, North then recovered from 90/5, thanks to Pinnington (84) and Rick Brodie (54*) who added 95 runs in 98 minutes for the 6th wicket. The match concluded with North 196/6.
At stumps on Saturday night in the final, the odds were well stacked in favour of North Hobart, and its batsmen Mark Davis and Pinnington had double reasons for smiling, for they both blasted centuries and in the process boosted North Hobart into a strong position to win the title. North’s score of 354/5 was a cruel blow to Clarence’s chances of winning its first pennant for four seasons.
Clarence skipper Roger Woolley said the big score was a daunting task but the Roos had nothing to lose. “We’ve been struggling to make 200, let alone 300 runs, but you never know – finals are funny games.”
Davis and Pinnington combined to put on a potentially match-winning 3rd wicket partnership of 154. Davis’ 270-minute ton set the foundation on which North’s innings was built, and was complemented by Pinnington’s century in the cool conditions at Bellerive. Despite cramp and three painful blows to the index finger on his right hand, Davis worked his way through the nervous nineties to notch up 110, which included eleven fours and was hit off 264 balls over two and a half sessions.
Davis and Pinnington set the scene with their solid stand, which put the innings on a firm foundation after opener Damien Green (8) was out when the score was 34 and Michael Di Venuto (22) went at 83/2. Davis finally fell to a casual and ill-fated pull shot, which was snapped up by Mark Ridgway at midwicket, running in the same direction as the ball, off the bowling of Mark Colegrave. It was Davis’s fourth century and first for the season.
After his departure Pinnington became the sheet anchor and he didn’t let his side down. With Myles Harry, North’s other in-form batsman, the lively gloveman knuckled down to building his half-century into a century. He reached his 100 and then set about attacking the Clarence attack as the over-count approached the maximum 104-mark. Keeping the scorers busy with his aggressive batting, Pinnington worked the score towards 350 when he was run out for 125.
The next day, Clarence patiently worked its way into contention after early set-backs, losing state captain Rod Tucker (21) to an indiscreet hook shot off Peter Di Venuto just before lunch. At 57/3 Andrew Dykes was joined at the wicket by forty-year-old former state captain and Test wicket-keeper batsman, Roger Woolley.
“When Dykesie and I came together we knew we had to build a big partnership if Clarence was to have a chance. We just tried to bat sensibly by working the ones and twos and hitting the bad ball for four.” said Woolley after the match.
Together Dykes and Woolley added 221 runs in their 4th wicket partnership in 196 minutes, but when Dykes was dismissed for 81 at 278/4 the ask was 5.5 runs per over and the game looked lost for Clarence, especially when Adam McGinty removed Mark Ridgway and Mark Colegrave with successive balls to make the score 319. But while Woolley remained, there was hope. Together with Michael Granger for the 8th wicket he added a further 32 before losing his wicket, tantalisingly close to victory – just four runs short.
Woolley had played the finals knock of the century – a masterly 162 – batting with all the flair of old in a stay of 265 minutes. His innings included 20 fours and blended textbook correctness with daring improvisation. Along the way he had some luck – he survived a stumping chance off spinner Tony Judd on 61 and a run out appeal on 73 when, short of his crease and with the bat in the air, his stumps were thrown down by Michael Di Venuto.
But back to the game. While captain Woolley was responsible for Clarence achieving its mountainous winning target of 355 for the loss of eight wickets, it was tail-enders Stuart Oliver and Granger who stole the show. Failing to make contact with the last ball from paceman Chris O’Neill, Oliver charged down the wicket to run the winning bye. At the other end, Granger just made good his ground at the striker’s end after wicketkeeper Pinnington’s throw at the stumps narrowly missed.
Oliver then threw his bat in the air and ran to the boundary in front of the hill where exuberant Clarence supporters jumped the fence and embraced him. But that was only part of the drama which unfolded in front of an enthralled crowd, which would have put the average Shield attendance to shame. And nearly all of it was centred on Woolley.
There was deathly silence in the North Hobart rooms as rival skipper Damien Green tried to put on a brave face after his side had failed to equal Clarence’s record of four consecutive pennants by the barest of margins. “The game was always up for grabs and I’m proud of the way our guys hung in there when things looked to be getting away from us during that 4th wicket partnership. A few things didn’t go our way – like Woolley’s run out – but you’ve got to concede he played a fantastic innings.”
Mercury reporter – Colin Chung