Ipswich quick defies hip surgery to share in glory
VICTORIOUS Brothers captain David Richardson summed up his team's latest grand final success when he spoke proudly about the mateship at the club.
"There's a few boys talking throughout the year that this might be the last year,'' Richardson said amid the first division celebrations at Baxter Oval.
"But it's a bond that brings us back.''
A number of Brothers players have been together for 15-20 years, sharing the highs and lows of playing in the Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association competition.
Among those is Brothers' warrior Mark Sharrad, who recovered from two hip replacements in 2016 to enjoy another premiership with his cricketing mates.
"The core group around here have been around for a long time,'' Sharrad said.
"To have those other fellows in the same team was good to have around. It makes the win even more sweeter.''
Sunday's latest top grade success over Laidley was Sharrad's second with the club, having shared in Brothers' 2013 grand final triumph.
He'd also been part of a losing grand final.
At 43, Sharrad has been around cricket long enough to respect his opponents, especially the Laidley Bluedogs.
"Honestly, I didn't think we were home and hosed at any stage,'' Sharrad said.
"At any given time, you don't know what can happen. The game was toing-and-froing the whole way through.''
Sharrad's cricketing respect extended to Laidley's lower order, as the Bluedogs reduced the runs required to under 100.
"Of the three wickets we needed to get at the end there, Gibbo (Ben Gibson) can score runs. He's good for 30/40 plus runs,'' Sharrad said.
"Terry Emmerson, when he comes in, he's good for the same amount. And Topp (Michael Topp) you never know what he's going to do.''
Seeing the satisfaction on Sharrad's face after the grand final highlighted what it meant to one of Ipswich's finest all-round sportsmen.
The former Wests' A Grade hockey goalkeeper and Ipswich Jets footballer has maintained his fitness and strength for many years, often overcoming injuries that would have slowed or completely stopped a less determined competitor.
However, Sharrad was keen to keep playing for Brothers after a season off following those two hip replacements.
"The hips have come along real good,'' the powerful fast bowler said.
"I'm just looking forward to what next year brings.''
And that means being cautious about retiring, like many of his senior teammates.
"You are a long time retired,'' Sharrad said.
"I'm going to savour this moment with the boys and then reassess what happens when the next season turns around.''
Looking back over the four-day grand final, Sharrad said securing a 127 run first innings lead was crucial against the might of Laidley.
"Hats off to Smithy (Chris Smith) for bowling the way he did,'' Sharrad said, having also played a crucial role with the ball.
"He bowled really consistent lines . . . and we got the edges and the wickets that we needed in the first innings to get that lead.''
Smith finished with 12 wickets in the match, troubling the Laidley batsmen with his stubborn line and length.
Smith's remarkable figures of 12/119 off 51.1 overs were the best recorded in an Ipswich grand final.
Sharrad only had six overs in the first innings as Smith snared 7/50.
In the second innings, Sharrad provided solid back-up taking 1/36 off 18 overs as Smith and Richardson (4/35) again did the major damage.
"It was just a dogged effort by the boys in the end there to fight through,'' Sharrad said.
That included a stumping by Brothers wicketkeeper Luke Dixon that dismissed Andrew Pickering for 10, after he kept out 69 balls.
Richardson laughed it wasn't his best delivery but one that kept the momentum rolling when Dixon snapped it up.
"We kept at it all day,'' the spinning stalwart said.
"We knew that we had a decent score on the ball and we knew that if we just stick together, we'd cut through and take the 10 wickets. And that's what we did.''