Cats lose grand final in batting blunders

By Daniel Hughes

Finley have fallen short of back-to-back Murray Valley Cricket Association Division One premierships.

In the Saturday's grand final the Cats fell to Katunga in a two-wicket loss at Tocumwal Recreation Reserve.

The grand final was set to be a vicious rivalry match after the Cats beat the Swans in the 2018/19 decider.

After preparing as best they could throughout the week with intensive batting, bowling and fielding practice in the nets, the Cats won the toss and elected to bat first.

Excellent form with the bat over the last five rounds did not carry over to the Cats in the most important game of their season.

Ryan Donkin (one) fell in the third over in an attempted pull shot, caught behind off the steaming bowling off Katunga captain Toby Miles (6/7 off eight).

Dan Hughes (14) came to the crease with in-form opener Russell Anderson (two), the latter of which fell in the fifth over to a feather off the outside of the bat, off the bowling of Miles.

Cats captain Murray Urquhart came to the crease and instantly fell in his first ball from a soft edge off the outside of the bat off the bowling of Miles.

Ben Spence (five) was next in and was able to survive the hat-trick ball and stick out the rest of a dangerous over.

Hughes offered some resilience when paired with Spence with a well-timed straight drive for four, as well as some sharp running between the wickets in the early overs.

This however, was short lived with Hughes falling soon after Spence's entry to the crease, caught off an attempted lofted drive to long-off, again Miles striking down another top order batsman.

Miles continued his onslaught and along with with spin bowler Shaun McAllister (2/12 off seven), Katunga dismissed Spence, Adnan Malik (10), Archie Mason (five) and Paul Massingham (0) all in quick succession.

Lasting just 23 overs, the Cats’ bottom order was polished off quickly, all out for 43.

With Finley's grand final hopes in the balance, the side rallied together in the locker rooms to give it everything they could.

Opening with a spin and pace attack saw Adnan Malik (2/3 off eight) paired up with the line and length bowling of Anthony King (1/9 off eight).

The pair offered an incredible due display of bowling that was complemented by the intense and quick reactions of the Cats’ fielding.

Sharp dives and quick reaction time from Bailey Coombs at short fine leg made the runs hard to come by.

Young guns Archie Mason and Harrison King also kept sharp singles from being taken in the in-field.

King and Malik along with a run out from the fielding of Mason and throw of Malik, were able to take the top four batsman for only eight runs.

This was a huge swing of the match and brought life to the Cats’ supporters and the nerves through the veins of Katunga around the grounds.

Middle order batsman Daniel Henderson (31 not out) arrived at the crease determined to get his side across the line, the only question he faced was if he would run out of batsman before he could do so.

A spectacular caught and bowled effort from Massingham (1/14 off eight) with his diving outstretched arms, just taking the catch before the ball landed half way down the pitch, saw the dangerous Adam Cook dismissed for a duck.

Swinging medium pace bowling from Wilson (3/9 off eight) continued the wicket onslaught dismissing Spencer Small for a duck, sending the bails flying.

Katunga captain Miles (one) came in with a mission of holding strong with Henderson and despite some resilient batting, he soon fell to another diving catch in the field, this time from Anderson off the bowling of Wilson.

After a short six run partnership, Benjamin Whitford after his best defensive efforts, fell for a duck from another in-swinging ball from Wilson.

With just 14 runs to win and only two wickets in hand, McAllister (one not out) was able to fend off every darting ball that would have sent the stumps out of the ground.

He was able to do this while in-form batsman Henderson polished off the runs, narrowly winning the championship back off the Cats finishing 8/47 in 35 overs.

Man of the match was presented to Miles for his tremendous bowling figures.