Laidley into grand final
LAIDLEY were cruising to victory over Northsiders on Saturday when word came through that Strollers/Raiders were about to snatch the minor premiership from under the Blue Dogs’ noses with a big win over Brothers.
“We realised it was going to be pretty close,” said Jason Cubit (75 not out), one of the Laidley batsmen at the crease as the Blue Dogs drew level with Northsiders’ total of 134 at Jensen Oval.
“Gibbo (teammate Ben Gibson) ran a message out to me when we needed one to win and told me to hit a six, so I did. We needed 135 to win and the six took us to 139 and got us into the grand final.
“I got a short one from Marcus Hillier bowling off-spin and thankfully it went over for a six.
“We could have taken a single earlier but knocked it back.”
Cubit’s heroics lifted Laidley to a minor premiership.
Laidley finished half a point clear of Strollers/Raiders, which was no more than they deserved, given they have gone through a heavily rain-affected season undefeated.
Cubit admitted they would have felt aggrieved had they been forced into a semi-final.
“You can only win every game you play,” Cubit said.
“To have done that and not made the grand final would have been a bit of a kick in the guts.”
Laidley goes straight into the grand final, starting March 26.
Strollers/Raiders will host Northsiders in the semi-final.
Laidley can thank Englishman Alex Welsh as much as Cubit for their victory.
This season’s leading all-rounder produced a mes- merising spell of spin bowling, taking four of his 5-16 as Northsiders slumped from 2-60 to 7-69.
“That was largely to Welshy and Matthew Dean (0-3) at the other end,” Cubit said. “(Welsh) was turning them and hitting the stumps.
“He brought a couple of men in close and got one at short mid-wicket. I took a catch off him at second slip.”
The Blue Dogs also welcomed back fast bowler Gibson (1-40), which could provide headaches before the grand final as Anthony Wilson and Michael Topp are also in line for a possible recall.
“He was obviously short of a run and I don’t think his knee’s 100 per cent,” Cubit said of Gibson.
“He blew the cobwebs out in his first spell with a bit of wayward stuff but in his second spell he sorted it out and took the crucial wicket of David Lyons (41).
“Lyons was in form and they were going to have a dash in the last seven or eight overs.”
Instead, Northsiders limped to 134, which Laidley reeled in for the loss of just three wickets.
“I felt really good yesterday when I came in,” Cubit said.
“Whenever Mick Sippel gets out for a golden duck, the other team feels confident.
“They were pretty pumped up.”
Welsh (35 not out) was yet to get off the mark when joined by Cubit.
The big middle-order batsmen more than doubled his partner’s scoring rate. “It was good just to get a bat,” Cubit said in reference to the effect weather has had on the competition this summer.
“I was just batting how I normally bat and they bowled in my hitting areas. I didn’t go out to have a slog but we didn’t want to leave it until the last five overs.”
Meanwhile, Strollers/Raiders captain Craig Cumming’s second successive century (103) propelled his team to 6-272 against Brothers at Bruce Raleigh Oval.
Greg Jeffers then made like Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Josie Wales, knocking over batsmen like Wales did Union soldiers to claim 5-9 from 4.4 overs as Brothers were rolled for 193.
In the weekend’s other encounter, Central Districts beat Swifts by eight wickets on the back of Ben O’Connell’s 3-32 and 57 not out.