GRASSMERE captain Chris Lenehan cast a nervous figure pacing the boundary before the Meerkats secured the one-day premiership in a nail-biting finish yesterday.
The Meerkats needed nine runs off the final two overs to knock off ladder leader Yambuk and collect their first Grassmere Cricket Association crown since 2007-08.
Grassmere veteran Peter Sedgley hit the winning runs in the 38th over, handing the Meerkats a two-wicket win at Purnim Recreation Reserve.
Sedgley hit two fours on either side of Keenan Hotker’s dismissal to steer Grassmere home. The Meerkats finished at 8-130 in reply to the Buks’ 9-125.
Lenehan said the win was a confidence-booster for the Meerkats.
“This is our fourth year back in the comp,” he said.
“We played in the two-day final last year and lost that and the one-day today and won it and we made finals once before that so as a club we’re building.
“We’re starting to believe we’re good enough.
“We are getting a bit more consistency in our cricket.”
Lenehan, who was named player of the final for his 3-28 and 24, said the game’s final stages were nerve-racking.
“It can go either way. You have the batsmen at the end there and they’re in a no-win situation,” he said.
“They have to look to take a few risks and if it comes off they’re heroes and if they don’t it makes it hard on the next bloke.
“Sedge probably hasn’t made as many runs with the bat this year as he would have liked but he’s a good man to have down the order.
“He’s got plenty of experience and Luke Bushell and Keenan Hotker got away with a few shots in the end and it was good.”
Bushell finished with 14 runs batting at number seven.
“A lot of guys haven’t had a bat. Yesterday I opened the batting with Luke Bushell and Paul Kelson, just for something different,” he said of the Meerkats’ two-day fixture.
“Luke hit the ball well but hit a few to the field and today he hit them through the field so it was well worth giving him seven or eight overs yesterday.”
Lenehan said he was pleased with the Meerkats’ bowling efforts, highlighting Craig Spikin (3-19) and Braden Hotker (1-23).
“They were 3-70 at drinks and we kept them to 125,” he said.
“The last 20 (overs) was really good. It hasn’t been quite as good the last few weeks. We’ve probably gone to sleep a bit so it was good to not let things get out of control.”
Yambuk skipper Daniel Oakley lamented the Buks’ batting performance.
“We just consistently lost wickets,” he said.
“Not in clusters but consistently every 20 runs we lost a wicket, which is disappointing because we do bat very deep.”
Oakley said Yambuk showed persistence to push the result to the second last over of the run chase.
“I’m pretty proud of the boys’ efforts with the amount of runs we put on the board,” he said.
“We did well to get ourselves back into the game.
“We’ll hold our heads up high and we’ll learn a bit from that and hopefully we’ll learn a bit from our batting experience.”
The final overs were also nerve-racking for Oakley.
“It is pretty tense. As the captain you sort of feel responsible and want to have everyone in the right spot, but you sort of need 15-20 blokes when you have those runs on the board,” he said.
“I asked the boys to bowl off side of the wicket and try and tie them up, which we did well for 15 overs really, which got us back into the game.
“But they had a class cricketer in Sedge.
“He’s played a lot of cricket and he was smart enough to know if they hung around and batted their overs, they had the game won.”