Finley’s Premier Division is on the cusp of ending a painfully long losing streak after one of the most remarkable days of cricket the Cats have ever seen.
The whipping boys of the league for the last two years, the Cats have set themselves up for a memorable day this week.
The team has struggled with the blade all season but Saturday’s effort was one to savour.
The Cats lost the toss but CYU had no hesitation in sending the hosts in well aware of the Cats’ batting history.
The script seemed to take a familiar storyline - an early wicket, that of Joel Bunce for a duck in the first over. Daniel Hibberd (121 not out) and Daniel McHugh (107) then set about holding the innings together.
To say that their knocks were chanceless would be nowhere near accurate — both men rode their luck and took advantage.
McHugh survived a straight forward catching chance in close and Hibberd was well caught off a Kane Goldsworthy (2/83) seamer at second slip only for the umpire’s arm to raise for a no ball.
After the early scares the innings took off with runs flowing freely.
The pair built a great platform with a scoring rate of three an over satisfying the Cats in the first hour.
The second hour saw the pair bring up a well-made 100 run partnership with the same determined play as the first. The third hour of play leading up to tea belonged to McHugh. The young bat began to work the ball around the field at will racking up several boundaries and making the fielders chase plenty of leather. Approaching the afternoon tea interval McHugh raced into the 90s with some superb play. Hibberd chipped in with some great pull shots the feature of his half century which he brought up with a punch through covers. At tea the Cats were 1/169 with McHugh on 99 and Hibberd 55.
Following the break, it was Hibberd who took the early strike with some hard-hitting boundaries as McHugh waited patiently for his opportunity. It was fitting that a drive through covers for three brought up his century to the delight of the Cats’ supporters who had filtered through the gate upon hearing how the innings had progressed.
The Cats were right on top and McHugh tried to up the ante soon after but gave himself too much room and was bowled by Goldsworthy for a superb 107 with 10 boundaries. McHugh and Hibberd’s second wicket partnership was a massive 191.
Having sat with his pads on since the first over of the day, Cougar McGrath (26 not out) joined Hibberd at the crease and the pair continued to inflict further pain on the Blues. Hibberd, who was on 66 when McHugh departed, began to take to the tiring attack and plundered 28 runs from two overs off Goldsworthy and Joel Ashcroft (0/51) as triple figures loomed large. McGrath joined in the avalanche smashing 13 from one over as the Cats pushed towards 250.
Hibberd brought up his ton with a superb pull shot for yet another boundary as his teammates cheered in delight. The unbeaten McGrath-Hibberd partnership yielded 86 runs in just 13 overs before skipper Chris Shaw called a halt to the innings with eight overs left in the day declaring at 2/277. Hibberd had hit 17 fours in his unbeaten knock and McGrath hit the rope three times.
With the whole team in rarefied air, the Cats were determined to strike a blow early. Shaw (1/2) delivered with Cameron Isedale pouching the gloved chance from Ayden Latessa (0) to have the Blues 1/0. Another seven tight overs followed as CYU limped to stumps at 1/4 and with a huge mountain to climb this Saturday.
Finley’s Division Two were defeated by Katamatite on Saturday in a last over thriller. The Cats won the toss and batted first but early wickets put pressure on the middle order with Finley 4/36. Matt Boyd (10) and Jasper Brain (13) got off to starts but couldn’t go on with the job.
A big partnership was what was needed and Damon Anderson (26) and Paul Massingham (80) provided it with the pair adding a massive 114 for the fifth wicket.
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