THE Bananacoast Community Credit Union Premier League minor premiership could not have finished more closely with the top three sides all capable of snaring the trophy at the end of play on Saturday.
At the time of writing it seems Westlawn has snared the title by the tiniest of margins, but it was so close some gave the title to South Services.
The luckless Harwood outfit fell from first to third in the final, failing by only five runs to beat Tuc- abia.
nTHE Harwood boys have every right to be dirty about this result, as the game was played on a wet wicket, when they had every right to expect a dry track to chase Tucabia's moderate total of 156.
They fell only five runs short due to a courageous 50 not out from Matt Young at number 10.
Quick Singles heard that Matt, a batsman often in for a good time, not a long time, batted for more than two hours on the treacherous wicket, edging his team towards their total.
nTHIS game has left cricketers at both ends of the Valley shaking their heads.
The curator says he stopped watering the wicket on Thursday, but the Tucabia team, said the wicket was 'doughy' when they put covers over it on Friday night.
Whatever happened, it was not good enough, when there was so much riding on the match.
nSOUTH Services' young 'apprentice blasters' were certainly cocky after Friday's night-cricket final win over Tucabia.
They snatched the game away from Tucabia when Zac Page took a hat-trick to wrap up the innings for 118, then the Kroehnert brothers, Tom and Matt, and Brett Woods clubbed the winning runs in less than 12 overs.
Later in the evening some of the older heads were trying to explain that these innings were rare, but it didn't seem to be working.
On the way out of the South Club one of the trio was heard to say: 'if we bat like that on Saturday we'll get 300.'
He thought about it a bit longer and realised they faced more overs on Saturday and revised his total ? to 600.
nTHE form from the night final inspired the CRCA Over-40s to glory in their quest for the Neil Frame Memorial Shield.
The CRCA top order made light work of a seemingly formidable Coffs Harbour total of 176, blasting its way to the win in 34 overs.
Openers Bruce Baxter and Ken Wilson were in electrifying form. Bruce's play square of the wicket rolled the clock back many years, when his square cut was one of the most feared shots in local cricket.
Kenny's six, which hit the pavilion on the half-volley, was worth the price of the admission ? which in the case of Over-40s cricket is $10 for the players. This money goes toward cancer re- search.
nHOWEVER, man-of-the-match honours go to Des Amos who notched up 56 on Sunday ? and scored 30 not out to be the third CRCA batsman to reach the mandatory retiring score.
He left the field to a rousing chorus of 'Happy Birthday to You' as he guided his team to within touching distance of the win.
nUNFORTUNATELY there will be no final to decide the Over-40s competition this year, and the result was decided on a quotient of runs scored divided by wickets lost and runs conceded by wickets taken.
After all the figures were punched into North Coast Cricket Council secretary Ken Robinson's laptop the answer came out CRCA 1.65 to Lower Clarence's 1.34.
As any sportspeople know, these types of results are never the best way to decide a final, even though they reflect the stan- dard of play both teams achieved throughout the competition.
Playing in finals puts an exquisite edge on the competition and unearths the team deserving of the title of premier.
nTHE Australian cricketers have more than their fair share of critics it seems.
If they're not intimidating umpires to give decisions in their favour, their fast bowlers are delivering intentional 150km/h beamers at batsmen.
All these criticisms, starting with Pakistani coach Bob Woolmer's claim that Australia gets most of the close decisions going its way, are a bit like UFOs, haunted houses or any other paranormal experience. It may well be there are ghosts and visitors from outer space, but most times there are easier, more logical explanations.
Australian fans who can remember the West Indians in their pomp will recall how Australia would be staging some sort of courageous fightback and it would snuffed out by a brilliant bit of cricket or a 'dodgy' decision.
On reflection it was because the Windies were playing better cricket and dominating the game.
nBRETT Lee's beamers are another case of the haunted house syndrome.
Why would a player who is responsible for a 1000 per cent increase in the sale of brown underpants by bowling legitimate deliveries, risk being banned from the crease for bowling beamers?
The stats make interesting reading: 692 deliveries bowled at extreme speed, often with loose footholds and a greasy ball, result in five beamers in a season.
It's not much fun to be on the receiving end and it's ugly when it happens, but it doesn't add up to being a deliberate Australian ploy.
In Black and White
LAST week ING Cup umpire Darren Goodger asked: A no ball is delivered and played into the outfield by the striker. The batsmen have completed two runs and just crossed on the third run when the ball stops 1 metre inside the boundary fence. The fieldsman then wilfully kicks the ball into the fence before the batsmen have completed the third run. How many runs are scored?
The answer is: A total of 8 runs is scored; the one-run penalty for the no ball plus the allowance for the boundary plus the runs completed by the batsmen (together with the run in progress if they have crossed at the instant of the wilful act by the fieldsman).
For next week Darren asks: Team B is batting second in a one-day limited overs match. The team is nine wickets down and the scores are level. A spin bowler is operating and he bowls a ball down the leg side. The batsman, in attempting to hit the ball, leaves his crease, and the 'keeper gloves the ball and breaks the wicket with the batsman out of his ground. The 'keeper appeals to the square leg umpire for a stumping. The delivery is called 'wide' by the umpire at the bowl- er's end. What is the decision?
In Black and White is brought to you with the compliments of the NSW Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association, local contact Paul McErlean 66423815.