Murray Valley second best in Victoria
Murray Valley Cricket Association won its first three games to advance to last Friday’s prestigious Melbourne Country Week grand final.
The Murray Valley players, many of whom were beaten in last year’s rain-affected final against Geelong, were out for revenge.
But it was not going to be easy, having been beaten by Geelong the day before (Thursday).
Friday’s final was allocated to the Albert Ground in St Kilda, a beautiful oval where many Melbourne Premier finals are also played.
Geelong again won the toss and elected to bat, having also brought in some big guns for the final.
MV coach Mick Cleeland asked for more pressure to be applied than the previous day and it was delivered with Geelong suddenly on the back foot at 3/5 with Imran Arif bowling well for two early wickets.
Geelong however was equal to the task and had plenty of quality batsmen to see through the early setback with Hanley making a well compiled 89 runs.
The lower order batsmen all contributed taking the final tally to 8/217 with Justin Maley and Arif claiming two wickets each.
However, as the ground was considerably quicker than the previous day, the total was considered about par.
Murray Valley’s openers Luke Carter and Chris Armstrong put on 38 for the first wicket before Carter fell to one of Geelong’s big guns, opening bowler Trent Wayerys.
He then dismissed Shaun Downie and Stuart Thomson for first ball LBWS giving him a hattrick and setting Murray Valley with a huge task of recovering from this position.
Justin Maley (30) and Luke Quinn (15) tried hard, but Geelong’s tight fielding caused two run outs to again put MV on the back foot.
Valley was eventually dismissed for 130 leaving Geelong the victors for the second year running — and a victory well deserved as they were clearly the better team over the two days against MVCA.
However, Murray Valley should be proud of the way the team played proving it is the second best association in the Victoria after finishing second to the large provincial city of Geelong for two consecutive years.