Laidley’s power, pace and pride delivers more final glory
TWO powerhouse batsmen with 14,800 runs between them. A rising speedster who just snared his 50th wicket for the season. An entire town behind them.
It's little wonder the Laidley District Blue Dogs keep setting the standard in Ipswich's first division cricket competition.
Minor premiers Laidley secured an accomplished draw against Centrals to add another title to their incredible collection over the past 20 years.
Although they ran out of time to chase down the 239 runs needed for outright victory, Laidley had every reason to be jubilant after their final day effort at Walker Oval.
If not for a second day washout, Laidley would almost certainly have scored the additional runs required for outright success.
It was Laidley's 14th first division grand final appearance in 17 seasons.
Left-handed batting maestros Ben O'Connell (70 not out) and Mick Sippel (56 not out) guided the Blue Dogs through the final two sessions (3/172) to deny a gallant Centrals side any chance of victory.
That followed the inspired pace effort of Liam Dean on the first day when his 5/26 haul propelled him into an elite group of bowlers to take 50 first division wickets in a season.
Dean's destructive bowling restricted Centrals to just 75.
As Centrals battled to unsuccessfully remove O'Connell and Sippel on the final day, the incredible Laidley entourage cheered every boundary from the Cricket Ipswich clubhouse.
They were waiting patiently to continue the celebration back in Laidley on Sunday night.
Celebrating his fourth Ipswich grand final success, Laidley skipper Alex Welsh was delighted how two of the team's elder statesman guided the Blue Dogs home.
"They did what was needed,'' Welsh said.
"It was a flat wicket. I think they showed how good they were.''
Laidley's patriarch Sippel has scored more than 10,900 runs from his 241 matches.
O'Connell, a Blue Dogs junior back at his country club, has amassed nearly 4000 runs from 106 games.
The duo's experience and class was on show when it mattered most.
English-bred Welsh praised Laidley's record in making grand finals and regularly winning them outright.
"We get a lot of satisfaction out of Second Grade winning so convincingly, the 17s having a great win today,'' he said.
"I think that's what makes it terrific. It's not just the first grade thing.
"The whole club contributes towards the culture and it's a winning culture. You look after your mates and you back each other up.''
However, Centrals displayed plenty of fight on Saturday afternoon and on Sunday morning after being bundled out for just 75 in the first session.
In the second innings, Caleb Risson scored his first century this season after teaming with Centrals captain Lachlan Vellacott (85) to restore the Kookaburras reputation. Centrals made a competitive 365 in their second turn to bat.
"We played really well but hats off to Centrals,'' Welsh said.
"We were well on top after last week and our plan was to try and get a 100 run lead.
"Credit to Centrals the way they came out and played yesterday. They put the bowlers under some real pressure and I thought they batted extremely well.''
After Centrals had to get an outright win just to make the grand final, Welsh said they deserved to be proud of their efforts.
"It won't mean anything to them now but I think they can take a lot of heart and that's what we come to expect from Centrals,'' he said.
"There seems to be a little bit of rivalry developing because the games are so close. Like they beat us in the one-day final . . . because they have got this attitude they just don't give up.
"They never quite leave you alone. They are always hanging around.''
Vellacott (85 off 165 deliveries) and Risson (104 off 163 balls) ignited the fightback.
Risson said it was pleasing to make a game of the final after the disappointing first morning following all the rain.
"We just tried to bat a bit of time to start with,'' Risson said of the second innings mindset.
"Just tried to get 20, 30 balls out of the way and then be positive.''
He couldn't have chosen a better situation to show what he can do - compiling his first, top division hundred.
"That was good to stay with Velly (Vellacott). That took a lot of pressure off,'' he said.
With Centrals since he was nine, Risson shared in the team's first premiership victory in the 2016/17 season before a stint with the Hornets and living in Brisbane.
He said his teammates deserved to hold their heads high.
"We're pretty proud,'' he said. "You want to win but stoked to fight back. You don't feel so bad about it.''
He conceded removing O'Connell and Sippel was a tough ask after they got in.
"Those guys can bat,'' he said. "We bowled well and fielded well. It wasn't for a lack of trying.''
Risson, 30, said he'd see how the body fares before committing to next season.
Laidley quick Dean became the 12th individual bowler since World War 2 to take 50 wickets in a season.
The other bowlers were Frank Warwick, Ian Dionysius, Ken Johnson, Michael Sippel, Tony Merrell, Len Johnson, Keith Suthers, Col Cooke, Aslam Heuser, Terry Norris and Ian Greenall.
STATE OF PLAY
1-Laidley District v 2-Central Districts at Ray Walker Oval
Day 1: Centrals 75, Laidley 7/140 (53ov) B. O'Connell 43 (83), T. Ilka 0 (1)
Day 2: Washed out
Day 3: Laidley 203; Centrals 6/247 (87ov) C. Risson 68 (117), D. Tyler 2 (2)
Centrals 1st Innings 75
Laidley District 1st Innings (resuming at 7/140)
Ben O'Connell b Vellacott 87 (192)
Travis Ilka lbw Abbott 4 (60)
Liam Dean c Tyler b Abbott 9 (58)
Craig Crack not out 0 (0)
Total (90.4ov) 202
FoW ... 166, 202, 202
Bowling: Rhys O'Sullivan 23/9/34/0; Brendan Ashton 10/2/26/0; Lachlan Vellacott 15/3/35/2; Alex Dell 14/4/40/2; Mick Abbott 13.5/5/13/3; Wayne Jones 14/2/44/2; Harry Dobson 1/0/1/0.
Central Districts 2nd Innings
Cameron Osborne c Ilka b Dean 13 (65)
Tim Weber lbw Welsh 38 (73)
Lachlan Vellacott c & b Sippel 85 (165)
Wayne Jones b Crack 10 (54)
Caleb Risson lbw Emmerson 104 (163)
Harry Dobson b Welsh 2 (16)
Michael Abbott run out 17 (34)
David Tyler c Emmerson b Sippel 40 (58)
Rhys O'Sullivan c Reisenleiter b Welsh 26 (21)
Brendan Ashton c Emmerson b Sippel 14 (13)
Alex Dell not out 1 (3)
Extras (3b 8lb 5nb) 15
Total (109.6ov) 365
FoW: 51, 67, 106, 195, 208, 244, 312, 335, 361, 365.
Bowling: Liam Dean 16/2/52/1; Craig Crack 21/4/69/1; Alex Welsh 30/7/73/3; Michael Sippel 19/4/65/3; Shanley Neuendorf 7/2/22/0; Terry Emerson 11/0/59/1; Ben O'Connell 6/0/15/0.
Laidley 2nd Innings 3/172
Ben O'Connell 70 not out (154 balls), Mick Sippel 56 not out (168 balls).
Match drawn. Laidley win grand final as minor premiers.