Essendon Maribyrnong Park (EMP) has come from fourth place to claim the 2016-17 Premier Firsts Premiership after a six wicket victory over reigning three time Premiers Box Hill at the Albert Ground yesterday.
Winning the toss and sending the Mustangs in turned out to be the right call by EMP skipper Briana Binch as the Mustangs hit early trouble in their innings.
It was EMP spin twins Molly Strano and Kristen Beams who put together what would be a match winning bowling partnership with Strano claiming the key early wicket of Rebecca Carter (3) and Beams dismissing Penelope Cleghorn and Cassie Brock in the space of three deliveries, both without scoring.
When Strano trapped Casey Hawley LBW for naught, the Mustangs slumped to 4-15.
With a massive task ahead, skipper Anna Lanning and young gun Amy Jennings set about rebuilding the innings.
The two dug in for the next 20 overs putting on 93 to take the score to 108 before Chloe Rafferty grabbed the vital wicket of Lanning for 44. It was the partnership the Mustangs needed however and the reigning Premiers were well and truly back in the game.
Jennings continued the momentum to register her first 50 in the Premier Firsts competition, an outstanding knock under pressure, to help take Box Hill to the defendable total of 155. Jennings was dismissed off the final delivery of the innings for a gutsy 66.
For the Bombers, Strano claimed 4-13, Beams 2-19, Rafferty 1-35 and Maryam Omar, the Captain of Kuwait in her debut Victorian Premier Cricket season, took 1-38.
Despite being a below par score on the batting friendly Albert Ground, the Mustangs, in their seventh consecutive Grand Final, were never going to let it be an easy run chase, hence the reason they are reigning three time Premiers.
EMP openers Jenny Taffs and Strano made a positive but cautious start taking the score to 37 before Taffs was bowled by Brock for 28, not offering a shot.
The Bombers put on a further 39 through Binch (11) and Strano (34) until Hayley Brennan removed both in quick succession in a spell that threatened to swing the game.
Box Hill have been the finals specialist for a number of years and with those two quick wickets, and a fired up Brennan steaming in, the strong crowd parked on the hill of the Albert Ground sensed this game wasn’t over by a long shot.
However the experienced Natalie Schilov had other ideas, combining with Jane Neil (8) to put on 25 for the fourth wicket and then Makinley Blows in a 54 run unbeaten partnership that would see the Bombers home to Premiership glory in the 43rd over.
It was Blows (23 not out) who brought up the winning runs with a glance off the pads for one and after five years the Agnes McDonnell Trophy was to return to Aberfeldie Park. Schilov finished unbeaten on 38.
Strano’s 4-13 and 34 saw her claim the Betty Wilson Medal with Betty’s great great niece Ruby on hand to make the presentation.
VWCA and EMP Life Member Raelee Thompson presented ‘Aggie’ to Binch, with EMP now claiming the title for the sixth time.