Muddy pitch proves too tough

DEBATE continued yesterday after Harwood upstaged Easts in the CRCA Night Cricket final on Friday night.

Curator Tony Blanch worked a minor miracle to have the McKittrick Park pitch ready for the decider. The problem was, the pitch basically resembled rolled mud, making batting difficult.

At least it was for Easts who were bundled out 54 runs shy of the target.

While the wicket was devoid of any grass, the umpires decided to go ahead with the match and to their credit the game went the distance with Harwood reigning supreme.

After winning the toss Harwood captain Tim McMahon had no hesitation in batting.

With the ball continually popping up off a good length and with large chunks of mud being dislodged, Harwood opening bat Geoff Simmons continued his purple patch with the willow.

Simmons showed all his experience as he blasted 35 runs under tough batting conditions.

However, at 1-47 and with half their allotted overs already bowled, Harwood needed a special innings to post a competitive total.

Enter Mark Ensbey.

The left-handed middle-order batsman took the fight up to the Easts’ bowlers smashing 45 in a brilliant display of clean hitting.

Ensbey and Mitchell Johnson put on a match-winning partnership to guide their side to 4-162, which on an unpredictable wicket and slow outfield was probably worth 200.

Apart from some lusty hitting, a feature of Ensbey’s innings was his running between the wickets as he turned ones into twos and twos into threes.

Easts’ innings started with a bang as Kyle Masters and Shannon Connor took to the Harwood opening bowlers before Connor was brilliantly stumped by McMahon for nine.

Not long after Nick Ada was sent packing as Easts slumped to 3-44.

After drinks McMahon tightened the noose around the Easts’ batsmen with watertight field placements backed up by some splendid stump-to-stump bowling.

At 4-72 Easts were still in the game but when Doug Harris was run out after another horrible mix-up – this time with Chris Pierce – Harwood were in the box seat.

Wickets continued to fall and when No.11 batsman Mitchell Eggins’ middle stump was uprooted, Easts’ innings came to an abrupt end – all out for 108.

For Tim Whalan and his Easts side it was a disappointing end to the season.

“It was a great effort from our guys to make the final but on the night we were simply outplayed by a better side,” the Easts’ skipper told the crowd after the game.

In the final wash-up Harwood handled the adverse conditions better but the question has to be asked: Why was Easts’ best batsman Doug Harris batting at number six?

Harris walked to the crease with only 10 overs remaining, which in the eyes of most people at the ground was nothing short of mind-boggling.

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