The lead-up to the 2017-18 Shoalhaven District Junior Cricket Association representative season got under way early for a group of players from the SDJCA Under 14s side, with nine boys stepping out in Cricket ACT’s Kookaburra Cup last week in Canberra.
The tournament saw 25 teams from around the state compete in an 8-a-side three-day carnival based on the popular T20 cricket format. The carnival saw the SDJCA Under 14s play five matches over the three days culminating in a place in the grand final.
The Shoalhaven boys kicked off in positive fashion notching up an impressive win against Sydneysiders Northern Districts Cricket Association Under 13s by 5 wickets. After a slow start in the field Shoalhaven restricted the NDCA to 111 runs after 20 overs with all of the Shoalhaven bowlers chipping in with wickets. In reply, openers Drew Ramsden (52no) and Lachlan Malcolm (47) starred with the bat on their way to a 95-run partnership.
The second game saw the Shoalhaven pitted against Canberra Navy. After winning the toss the local side chose to bat and they must have been regretting the decision soon after with the Shoalhaven putting in a much improved fielding effort which restricted the locals to 2 for 68 after 20 overs. Wicket-takers were Lachlan Malcolm and Hyeon Parsons with one-a-piece. In reply Shoalhaven made light work of the chase with Alec Dobson (44no) guiding the Shoalhaven home in the 13th over.
With two solid performances on the board, day two was always going to be tougher with matches against two Canberra invitational sides. The first match didn’t kick off to plan and some big hitting from ‘Uncle Drew’s Army’ saw the home side accumulate 155 runs on a drying outfield. Wicket takers for the Shoalhaven included Luke Jones (1 for 26) and 2 wickets each to Jack Walsh (2 for 12) and Jay Ramsden (2 for 16).
The Shoalahven innings got off to a shaky start losing opener Drew Ramsden for 6 runs and with tight bowling the visitors found runs hard to some by. When fellow opener Lachlan Malcolm fell for 23 with the score on 58, closely followed by Alec Dobson (0) the visitors looked in real trouble. Number three batter, Hyeon Parsons was having none of the gloom however and while ably assisted by Luke Jones (25no) set about blasting the Shoalhaven back into the game. After 11 fours and 1 six, Parsons had knocked up a carnival best 81 runs from 44 balls, seeing home the Shoalhaven with an over to spare.
Carrying momentum into the final round match against North Canberra/Gungahlin, the Shoahaven continued on their run-scoring ways posting a formidable 105 runs on a slow Palmerston outfield. Top scorer was Drew Ramsden (38) while Christian Page chimed in with 15 runs of his own. The Northies invitational side were not going to be easy beats however and the side was looking to keep the bowling and fielding tight and that is exactly what they did. There were tight opening spells from Cooper Bramley (0 for 2 from 2 overs) and Luke Jones (1 for 7) as well as some great work in the field and with the cherry by Jack Walsh, who claimed 2 for 16 off 4 overs as well as a couple of run outs. Shoalhaven booking a spot in the grand final after bowling out the Northies team for 78 runs in the 19th over.
Following two excellent days of cricket resulting in 4 solid wins, the Shoalhaven entered day 5 and the grand final in high spirits. Despite facing a formidable opponent in Northern Districts Under 14 side from Sydney, the Shoalhaven knew it had the ability to win in the cut and thrust of T20 cricket. That belief showed in the opening overs with the Shoalhaven restricting the NDCA to 1 for 15 after 5 overs and the favourites wondering how they would score against some formidable opening bowling from Luke Jones (2 for 27) and Cooper Bramley (1 for 26).
Under pressure the NDCA batsmen steadied and runs started to flow through opener Adiyya Maril who top scored with 59 before holing out to Jack Walsh in the deep. Tom Reicher followed with an unbeaten 44 runs to take the NDCA’s tally to 5 for 143 after the 20 overs.
The Shoalhaven openers got the side away to a positive start in its run chase, quickly moving the score on to 32 before Drew Ramsden (13) was caught trying to clear the outfield. A couple more quick wickets and the loss of Hyeon Parsons for 3 and Alec Dobson for 9 put the Shoalhaven on the back foot and the chase was slowly becoming a step too far.
With opener Lachlan Malcolm still at the crease and plenty of batting still to come, the underdogs were still a chance but when Malcom fell for 23 and then skipper Jack Walsh for 12 the Shoalhaven were eventually bundled out for 80 runs handing the title to Northern Districts.
Despite the loss, coach Andrew Malcolm was pleased with the end result being a runner-up award. “It was certainly no shame in going down to such a classy opponent such as the NDCA. We went into the carnival with no expectations, hoping to have a bit of fun and a warm up for the rep season ahead,” Malcolm said.
“The nine players we brought up here this week will all feature in the Shoalhaven Under 14 rep side, so for them to gain some valuable T20 experience ahead of this season’s Southern Zone Rep competition has been invaluable”.
The Shoalhaven will kick off its representative season on Sunday, October 22, with each of the U12s, U14s and U16s taking on Gouldburn Crookwell in the opening round.