WHEN push came to shove Cricket Albury-Wodonga was outclassed by a better team.
In its first SCG Country Cup final it performed admirably in the field but Merewether’s classy quicks exposed the Border side’s batting.
There’s little doubt the beers in the Australian change rooms at the SCG afterwards would have tasted sweeter if the team had forged an impossible comeback and chased the reduced 175-run target required for victory.
But even though the result wasn’t what the team envisaged yesterday, it wasn’t long before coach Trent Ball and skipper James Tonkin were viewing the match as an achievement in itself and a building block for next year.
The day didn’t start well for CAW.
It thought the hotel was providing breakfast and the mix-up meant the team didn’t eat until a few hours before play.
As he has done nearly every game this season, Tonkin won the toss and sent Merewether in to bat.
But the early wickets didn’t come like they had in earlier matches.
Opening bowlers Mark Butters and James Weighell toiled hard but couldn’t get through the defences of openers David Celep and Josh Geary.
Liam Scammell got the team’s first breakthrough when he had Celep caught for 25.
That only brought champion Newcastle batsman Simon Moore to the crease.
Wickets soon became an afterthought for CAW behind containment.
A couple of half-chances went begging but it was clear the only players who were going to cause a wicket were the batsmen themselves.
And that’s what happened.
Spurred on by a lethargic first 40 overs that yielded just 130 runs, Moore and Geary went about setting a total their team could defend.
It worked until Geary was caught off the bowling of Mark Butters for a match-high 80.
Moore tried to carry on the fight on his own but was clean bowled by Butters a short time later.
The two new batsmen put on nine runs to leave Merewether on a respectable 3-203.
Talk in the CAW change room was that the total was gettable and, if anything, below par for a pitch providing little encouragement for the quicks.
A short rain delay in the lunch break reduced the required total to 175.
Whether he was distracted after dining in the Australian team’s lunch hall or the sheer pace of Cameron, Ball was back in the change rooms for a second-ball duck after cutting the ball back on to his stumps.
It was only the start of a nightmarish run.
Scammell fell to Cameron’s partner in crime Sam Gilmour for 1 leaving CAW 2-2.
Englishman Ben Kohler-Cadmore came in next in a surprise shuffle in the order.
He copped a Cameron bullet in the arm and it seemed he and Robbie Jackson might lift the team out of a hole.
But just when supporters were starting to hope again Jackson fell to Gilmour for 1, out leg before wicket.
Aside from Greg Daniel, who finished not out on 15, the only resistance came from Tonkin.
The skipper defied the trend of the match to bat freely for most of his 32 runs in a gutsy captain’s knock.
CAW’s SCG Cup final campaign was summed up on the last wicket of the day.
No. 11 Ashan Ranaweera and Daniel found themselves up the same end gifting the Newcastle-based team the easiest of run outs and the cup.