Tasmania are once again Australian 50 over champions after dominating Victoria from first ball to last at the MCG last evening. It was Victoria’s fourth 50 over losing final in succession and Tasmania’s second title in three years.
Traditionally, Tasmania find form after the Christmas break and this year was no exception with every member of the squad contributing to their unexpected (on the big island) run to the final.
George Bailey, in his first year as captain, has had an outstanding season and although he was out early yesterday he continued to show why he is forging a reputation as the country’s most creative young skipper.
With 304 runs in the bank his choice of opening the bowling with Jason Krejza proved a masterstroke with the craggy finger-spinner’s first three overs only conceding four runs. This tactic immediately added pressure to the Victorian chase which led to retiring veteran quick Gerard Denton cleaning up at the other end dismissing both openers and most importantly, Tasmania’s usual nemesis Brad Hodge in a damaging spell with the new ball.
With Victoria 35/3 after ten overs the game was effectively finished and Tasmania had the poise and class to make sure the favourites never even got close. In the end the 110 run winning margin was a fair reflection of the difference between the teams.
Australian selectors place additional emphasis on performance in finals with dominant displays often rewarded with a place in the national squad. Recently, both Peter Siddle and Phillip Hughes have benefitted and with Tim Paine scoring a first innings century to set up Tasmania’s win his place as Haddin’s deputy seems assured for some time to come.
As an opener Paine usually attacks from the outset in 50 over matches but in last night’s match circumstances led to him facing only 16 balls in the first ten overs. Recognising that Michael Dighton was in glorious touch at the other end he rotated the strike with adept placement, kept his head down and anchored the innings scoring an even 100 while getting his side to a score over the psychologically damaging mark of 300.
Dighton savaged England’s Darren Pattison to such an extent that I think it unlikely that he’ll ever play for the Vics again. Victorian captain Andrew McDonald’s actions illustrated this when he refused to give his opening bowler another spell and instead bowled the part-time spin of Hodge and Maxwell to fill the quota.
I could easily go on writing about Ed Cowan’s rising status or how Xavier Doherty is placing pressure on Hauritz for the spinner’s role in the national ODI squad. I should probably mention Brett Geeves, Travis Birt, Dan Marsh, Brendon Drew and Luke Butterworth’s contributions to the campaign and also of why Rhett Lockyear is a name you should all remember.
It would be nice to add that Tasmania has a population of a Melbourne suburb too but time is linear and there is free cold beer and a celebratory reception at Bellerive starting shortly. Even though Tasmania have won plenty these last few years I’d be a fool to miss the occasion as the sweet taste of success rarely lingers long.