A huge congratulations to our U12 Div 1 reps team who took out the Arch Cawsey grand final by 61 runs on 21 February 2021 (defeating Manly). It capped off a remarkable undefeated season which saw the boys finish on almost double the points of any other team.
Under dire warnings of flash flooding (90% chance), the finals day dawned cloudless, and the spectacle at Campbell Park was a sight to see, with Manly ushering in a huge spectator fleet, more tents than Barnum and Bailey, and local Council rangers checking development applications for the new construction. Paragliders dropped from the sky trailing smoke flares in Manly colours as the Seaforth memorial brass band made its way from the pitch. (So maybe all of that didn’t quite happen, but it paints the picture…).
Unperturbed, North Shore won the toss and decided to bat – the toss made with a special 1946 penny brought by one of the umpires (his date of birth), featuring the head of George VI and lending a special sense of occasion.
The pair of Finn O’Farrell and Sam Dillon strode to the crease and started brightly at around 3 per over, carrying the team past the first 10 overs, as they had on countless previous occasions, before Sam fell in the gully for 12 and Finn went shortly after for 24 to a miscue down leg. Hugh Taylor and Leo McNeil then went about a period of consolidation, with Manly turning the screws, bowling wide to a packed off-side field, the run-rate falling and North Shore parents circling the field with nervous energy like vultures on the savannah! Leo was eventually out around the 30th over for 23 seeking to move things along, with the score somewhere south of 90.
With the platform set, wickets in the shed and overs counting down, it was time for Finn Bailey to make his way to the crease and begin the aerial assault, with spectators applying sunscreen to the roof of the mouth, unfortunately run out for 18 off 15 as the boys hit the accelerator. Not to be out-done, Finn’s arrival saw Hugh also embark on a frenzy of shot-making, coming down the pitch to the spinners and hitting often over cover and mid-wicket, to ultimately amass 74 off 85 for a man of the match performance, while Satva Shah and Arnav Yadav came in at the close, running like maniacs, and the score rising to an imposing 5 for 169 at the close.
The North Shore bowling attack has been outstanding all season, each of the boys attacking his work with a ruthless relentlessness reminiscent of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator. This final was no exception, with openers Josh Baker and Ed Hills bowling a superb opening spell to have Manly scoring only 10 runs off the first 11 overs. It was Julian Harrison, however, who after several overs of threat, got the first break-through, to have the Seagulls 1 for 17 after around 14 overs. This sparked a renewed urgency in the Manly batsmen and a dangerous hit and run phase commenced before Finn Bailey snared the second wicket lbw at around 30 and the rising run-rate started to become an issue for the Manly men in the middle. Left-armer Ollie Mott bowled superbly in an outside off-stump line, beating the bat with monotonous regularity, while Henry Yeoland kept things tight with his accurate leg-spin.
Meanwhile the tightness of the bowling and score-board pressure yielded results with no less than 4 run-outs on the day, Arnav Yadav very cool under pressure to twice whip the ball in over the pegs, Julian Harrison linking up with Arnav for another, Satva Shah also in the action, and gloveman O’Farrell calmly cleaning up behind the stumps.
A momentary counter-attack by Manly saw tremors rise in the stands – who knew what was possible? But some sharp captaincy by Bailey saw Ed Hills return to the bowling crease, stemming the flow to induce one of the four run-outs on the day. In the end, the pressure was too much and the last wicket fell to Josh Baker, with Henry Yeoland taking a tremendous catch in slips, one of three screamers he has taken in the season. Wickets were shared evenly, as befitted the all-round quality of the attack, with one each to Baker, Mott, Bailey and Hills, while Harrison snared two.
Ultimately Manly could only reach 108 off 38.2 overs, to see North Shore win by 61 runs on a glorious afternoon. On the adjoining field, minor premiers North Shore U12-2s went down in a narrow loss.
It was a game played in great spirit on both sides, as has typified the season. Despite its success, the North Shore team has carried itself with humility and respect, which has been a pleasure to see.
Looking back on the season, the joy of the team around Ed Hills’ semi-final hat trick still brings a smile to the face. It has been a privilege to have watched such a talented and enterprising group of boys take on all comers this year, to think through and deal with the adversities thrown in their way and to bring home the shield for the NSJCA.
Congratulations and massive thanks also go to co-coaches Richard Watson and Rob Rutherford for all of their hard work, vast experience and strategies throughout the season, and also to all of the parents who have been a wonderful group to hang out with on the side-lines.