Maroons go out with a bang

Jack Anning shone in an impressive chase by the Lions at Devon Meadows on Saturday. 191178 Picture: ROB CAREW

WGCA PREMIER DIVISION

REVIEW – ROUND 14 (DAY TWO)

To Mankad, or not to Mankad.

That’s the question being asked in WGCA circles at the moment after the second such incident in three top flight games occurred in Round 14.

Just like with the prior occasion, this featured Upper Beaconsfield’s Premier side – with star Kooweerup captain-coach, and arguably the competition’s best all-around player, Mark Cooper the bowler this time around.

By the letter of the law, the ‘Mankad’ dismissal is now considered to be a run out at the non-striker’s end – and is entered into official scorebooks as such.

Many are unaware that, a couple of years ago, the manoeuvre became easier for bowlers to pull off after Cricket Australia incorporated the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) and International Cricket Council’s (ICC) guidelines into domestic competitions.

The act of the ‘Mankad’ is named after Vinoo Mankad, a former Indian Test cricketer who ran out Bill Brown in the second Test of his side’s 1947/48 tour of Australia. Mankad paused in his delivery stride and removed the bails at the non-striker’s end, with Brown ran out backing-up out of his crease.

Ever since, any such occurrences – particularly at a local level – have earned massive rebukes, with the ‘spirit of cricket’ brought into question.

But in 2017, the ‘Mankad’ rule was subtly changed. It used to be that bowlers were allowed to try and run-out the non-striker only before they entered their delivery stride. But now the rule says that bowlers can perform the action at any point up until they’d be expected to deliver the ball.

On day one against Kooweerup, a young, rebuilding Upper Beaconsfield side battling to avoid relegation from Premier was led superbly from the top of the order by gun opener Imesh Jayasekara. Reaching his second ton this season (after his 120 against Kooweerup’s nemesis Pakenham in Round 4), he was in truly sublime touch.

But at 4/190, an already action-packed showdown with the Demons was elevated to a whole new level.

Jayasekara was given not out after a massive run out appeal in the second over of the day’s play, but with Cooper bowling later in the innings he was sent on his way – as the scoreboard ultimately read ‘run out (MB Cooper)’ for 114.

With Jayasekara on his way back to the sheds, at 5/190, the Maroons were ultimately dismissed for 224.

Cooper, for his own part, acknowledged the dismissal came about “from the escalation of a number of things” that had happened between the two sides earlier in the clash.

“I stated bowling, and everyone knows I don’t exactly run in fast, and I saw him (Imesh) down the pitch, out of his crease.

“I don’t know why – because I’ve never done this in my life – but it just happened. I think sub-consciously I expected him to be in his crease (to remove the bails as a warning), but I ran him out. That’s how I considered it in my own mind.”

Cooper knew that umpire Michael Meeng would be left with no alternative than to give Jayasekara out, and said “we accepted the umpire’s decision”.

“The stigma of it was the Mankad, and that’s unsportsmanlike, but now it’s a run out and you’re technically cheating the system. I was only following the rules.

“He was backing up out of his crease as a tactic, and I was too – the other way.”

Cooper added that if, hypothetically, Jayasekara was at the other end of the wicket, out of his crease, the wicket-keeper in that situation wouldn’t have to warn him before he stumped him.

“Would I do it again? I don’t know. Maybe not. It was instinctive, really,” he said, adding that there was plenty said from both sides throughout the game.

The Demons started day two on fire on Saturday, reaching 0/139 with Cooper (84) and Chris O’Hara (65) at the crease, but both fell as part of a stunning series of wickets that saw the champion side stumble to 7/170 and, ultimately, 215 all out.

Chris Bright, who fell for three, is facing WGCA disciplinary action – at the time of going to print – stemming from a day one incident involving the Upper Beaconsfield crowd while he was in the field.

Despite the weekend’s stunning win, Upper Beaconsfield has been relegated from the Premier division and will next year play in the District grade for the first time since 2009/10.

For the Maroons, while there’s the disappointment of not playing in the WGCA’s top tier next season, there’s also the excitement of what’s to come – particularly from their younger brigade.

“We’re not looking at this year as a failed year by any means – a lot of our younger players got exposure to a high level of cricket, for example,” Upper Beaconsfield seamer, and club president, Kyle Gibbs said – referring to the likes of Corey Joyce and Cooper Shipp, who’ve had their development boosted by constant exposure to the league’s best talent.

Gibbs said, moving forward, he’s confident the club can retain its core group – including super impressive top-order batsman Imesh Jayasekara.

He added that, while he didn’t want the Maroons to lose the relegation battle with Merinda Park, going back to District to continue to develop was “maybe the best thing for the club”.

Player retention, and being able to lure some former favourite sons back to the fold, now looms as a real off-season key.

But for now, the Maroons get to bask in the success of a hard-earned win against the competition’s undisputed benchmark.

“Beating a really successful side like Koowee is the really pleasing thing,” Gibbs explained.

“That’s what we’ve lacked over maybe six or so years now.

“We’ve had a lot of honourable losses where we’ve got close to top sides, but lacked that knowledge to finish the job.

“But on Saturday, even when things started to get tight, we were still able to get that win.”

Looking back to day one, and arguably one of the most talked about incidents in the Premier grade this season – Cooper dismissing Jayasekara – Gibbs was very matter-of-fact.

“Both times the Mankad has been against us, so people might think it’s a bit of a coincidence!” he said with a laugh.

“Look, It’s not something I’d condone our players doing.

“It’s not something we really approved of. If we were in their position, I couldn’t see it eventuating the same way.”

Gibbs said that Jayasekara’s dismissal for 114 was “a story of what might’ve been”.

“It was probably the best innings he’s played for the club – I think he was headed for 150-plus,” he said.

“Knowing how passionate he is about the club – that was the most disappointing factor (of the dismissal).”

Despite the Demons’ strong start with the bat – with Cooper and O’Hara seemingly at ease at the wicket – Gibbs said the Maroons never felt like they’d bowled poorly to them.

“We were still confident we could make an impact (with the ball) because we didn’t think we’d done much wrong,” he said.

“Coops and Tubsy (O’Hara) batted really well, but having said that I think they batted themselves into a hole a little bit.

“When Will (Haines) came on to bowl, that was the turning point. His bowling partnership with Scoot (Pitcher) was the key for us.”

Between them, they took all 10 Kooweerup wickets to fall – 6/31 from the evergreen Pitcher, and 4/38 from Haines. Five successful LBW appeals were among them.

Gibbs reflected on both Pitcher’s and Haines’ seasons.

“I think if you ask both of them, they’d say they’re somewhat disappointed with their personal seasons,” he added.

“Scotty sacrificed his own game early in the year for Harry (Sharlassian), but bowled more in the second half of the year. He just does what he does, and he proved you can’t keep a legend down for long.

“Will was lacking in confidence at stages, but found some great form in the final two rounds.”

Now, it’s all about what’s to come.

The Cobras, meanwhile, ended the Bulls’ season in bitterly disappointing fashion.

Chasing Merinda Park’s 185-run total, the Bulls were rolled for just 151 with only skipper Alex Nooy (50) and James Giertz (30) passing 20. Mathew Campbell was once again the chief destroyer for the Cobras with 6/51 from a shade over 22 overs, while Mitch Thomas (2/24) and Sasindu Perera (2/47) claimed two scalps apiece.

At Devon Meadows, Pakenham skipper Rob Elston was full of praise for the home side after accepting the Vivian Shield following the Lions’ hard-fought win.

“Thanks to Devon Meadows for hosting the Vivian Shield, with many past players from both sides in attendance, and the club should be congratulated for hosting the local CFA volunteers after the unbelievable work they’ve done recently with the bushfires in the area,” Elston said.

In regards to the Round 14 contest, itself, Elston said his players knew their chase of the Panthers 8/264 was going to prove a long one.

“It was a bit of the unknown going into the day without the familiarity of Hutchy and Clarky,” he said of star seamer Matt Hutchinson not bowling during the clash, and Scott Clark unavailable through injury.

“We would have liked to have made the runs with more overs in hand but that was down to the outstanding bowling and fielding of Devon Meadows.

“We were always on track to get the runs, but were tied down in the second half of the first session by some excellent slow/spin bowling of (Ryan) O’Connor and (Henry) Dolphin.”

Lucas Carroll continued his strong bowling form for the Panthers with 4/59, while O’Connor claimed 1/73 and skipper Jason Dodd 1/19 as the Lions reached the target in the 79th over at 6/265. Jack Anning (74), Dale Tormey (66), and Zac Chaplin (55) shone with the willow in a strong all-around batting display.

In the remaining clash of the round, Clyde (167) fell well short of Tooradin’s 237 – dismissed in 56 overs courtesy of strong bowling performances from Dylan Sutton (4/40 from 18 overs), Bailey Lownds (2/38 from eight), Cal O’Hare (2/41 from 14), and Luke Adams (1/45 from 16).

Upper Beaconsfield is on the lookout for a new coach as the club embarks on its journey in the WGCA District division. For enquiries about the role, call club president Kyle Gibbs on 0459 993 304, or email KyleGibbs29@hotmail.com.