1996-97 CTPL Season & Grand Final Review
North Hobart with 129.74 points was a clear leader at the end of the TCA roster series ahead of Kingborough 118.72, SHSB 118.12 and Clarence 116.00 but when the finals begin, barring the weather, the four players have an equal opportunity, and such was the case when the fourth-placed Clarence comfortably disposed of the minor premiers.
Clarence lost 205/5 on the way to successfully overtaking North Hobart’s 199.
An inspirational spell of fast bowling by Gerard Denton propelled Kingborough into the final when the twenty-one-year-old speedster ripped through the powerful South Hobart Sandy Bay batting to take 7/81 off 28 overs at New Town. Chasing the Knights’ modest score of 236, North was doing it easily at 138/0 before Denton struck and they were dismissed for 229 with Chris Gulline picking up the last three wickets in a thrilling encounter.
Andrew Dykes won the toss in the final and sent Kingborough in to bat on a hard pitch surrounded by a quick outfield, and the Knights enjoyed a solid start by Tim Scott and Stuart Clark, who were untroubled reaching 29 before Scott slipped going for a quick single and was run out for 21. Michael Di Venuto joined Clark and his aggressive running between the wickets quickened the tempo of the match, with 72 runs coming in the first hour; the 100 came up in the twenty-fifth over and Di Venuto’s half-century came up off 46 balls, including five fours and three sixes. Their 100-run partnership was posted in 88 minutes and Kingborough went to lunch well-placed at 133/1.
A further 21 runs were added before Clark was caught by Stuart Oliver trying to force Jason Harris off the back foot for 45, including five fours, with the 2nd wicket partnership worth 125 runs. Geoff Valentine made only six before falling lbw to Harris, but that dismissal brought the two Di Venuto brothers together. Their fifty-run partnership took 38 minutes with Peter the aggressor. Michael raised his century with a lovely on-drive from Oliver, his ton taking 191 minutes off 141 balls.
Kingborough went to tea at 245/3 and looked capable of scoring close to 400 before the loss of Peter Di Venuto for 52, with seven fours, sparked a collapse.
Harris followed up with the wicket of Peter Di Venuto by claiming Hatton for one, well caught by Roger Woolley diving at short backward square leg. Rod Tucker chipped in by bowling Adam French for one before claiming the key wicket of Michael Di Venuto who was well held at deep fine leg by Harris. His fine knock of 138 took 220 minutes, came off 184 balls and included 14 fours.
Clarence’s young off-spinner Harris had bowled his team back into contention and took his tally of victims to six with the scalps of Gerard Denton and Chris Gulline to complete a superb haul of 6/86 off 30 overs.
Clarence received three overs before stumps with the match in the balance but Kingborough should have been in the box seat after at one stage being 272/3 with the Di Venuto brothers seemingly in full control.
Veteran Roger Woolley aside, Clarence’s batsmen never seriously threatened on the second day and Kingborough celebrated its first TCA 1st grade premiership for 25 years with a 151-run-first-innings victory.
Beginning the day at 2/0, Clarence’s openers Ben Bannister and Grant Costelloe both fell to the pace of Denton within the first ten overs. Bannister was well caught low down by Gulline at second slip while Costelloe was out for six when the ball came off his pad and dislodged a bail. Gulline came on from the river and in his second over captured the prize wicket of Dykes, lbw for 21.
Further success followed in Gulline’s next over when Tucker, trying to hook, was adjudged to have gloved the ball to Eric Monaghan and was given out for just four runs to have Clarence reeling at 40/4 following the drinks break.
Kingborough missed a golden opportunity to run Woolley out for six, when he and Duncan Hurd were stranded together at the bowling end but the throw went mid-pitch. The pair steadied the innings as Clarence went to lunch at 87/4, but three overs later Hurd was out lbw to Denton for 23, ending a 55-run stand with Woolley.
Gavin Cooney and Matthew Clingeleffer quickly followed, both caught by Monaghan off Peter Di Venuto for ducks to leave Clarence teetering on the brink at 104/7.
Woolley brought up his fifty and then set about the bowling, being particularly severe on spinner Mark Hatton. With Mark Colegrave he added 55 runs for the 8th wicket, the latter contributing eight, before Woolley’s fine innings ended when Hatton took a good running catch at midwicket off Gulline. His 86 took 144 minutes and included nine fours.
Stuart Oliver fell in the following over, bowled by Denton and Gulline clinched the game when he had Harris well caught one-handed by Monaghan diving low to his right. Colegrave was unbeaten on nine as the crowd of Kingborough supporters invaded the ground and began to celebrate the victory.
Kingborough’s three-pronged pace attack caused the damage with speedster Gerard Denton taking 4/40 off 20 overs, the experienced Chris Gulline taking 4/14 from 9.5 overs and captain-coach Peter Di Venuto wrapping up with 2/46 from 20 overs.
Di Venuto praised the efforts of his bowlers. “Chasing 300 in any game is difficult and all I wanted us to do was bowl a good line and length which is what we did. Two years ago Woolley scored 162 and led Clarence to victory chasing 350 plus and all he needed today was some support. Fortunately he didn’t get a lot.”
Mercury reporter – Colin Chung