Season Overview – Third Grade

As the dust settles on what was, in general, a successful (albeit without a flag) campaign for our lads, we take a few moments to reflect on some of the highlights and lowlights of the season that was 2021-22.

Early days looked good as the pre-season kicked in with the promise of some more youthful talent making their way into senior cricket. Backing up a 1st Grade Premiership and a Grand Final appearance by last year’s 3rds, alongside a dominant performance from a star-studded under 15s squad, it was no wonder that we hit the ground running with a little more pep in the step when August rolled around. Newly appointed Head Coach Travis Birt found his feet quickly and with many hours of toil had pieced together an elite pre-season programme; It was unfortunate when half way through that programme Coach Birt was offered a role with the WACA that was just too good to turn down.

There was a period of uncertainty as the club searched hard for the right person to fill the now vacant role (to Trav’s credit he was still at every training session) but thankfully that period was short lived and somehow someone convinced a name known to most at the club, Wayne Pearson, to take up the challenge of stepping in as man in charge with little more than 4 weeks til the season opener.

Season back on track.

Round One kicked off with a somewhat farcical situation when we rocked up to Hillcrest to face (my) archrivals Bayswater Morley.

A bit of rain overnight had left the 1st ground less ready to play on than the top ground, so the Bears decided to force the issue with the WACA and have the grounds reversed for this fixture, with the 1s now set for an on time start at Hillcrest Upper. Somebody forgot to tell the rain gods and as play was about to commence the skies opened up once more and took away any chance of play on the ready to go, yet uncovered, wicket.

With a slight delay the 3s game got away on the main stage, reduced to 38 overs a side, and after some standout performances with the ball by Cap’n John Walter (4/37) and Mighty Maff Carroll (3/33) the rain returned, cutting short our innings and the game with only 9 overs bowled. (Result: DRAW)

Rounds 2 – 6 were somewhat of a roller coaster.

I could only describe the Round 2 match vs Perth as a well measured and clinical victory, chasing down Perth’s total of 8/193 with only the loss of 3 wickets. Jack McDonald made scoring runs look easy as he compiled a brilliant innings of 72*, supported by a very confident looking Sam Williams at the top of the order (21) and soon to be familiar style innings of 47 from Michael “I hate milestones” Kelsey. Round 2 also saw new man Alex Fitzmaurice open his Roo account with a handy 3/31 (few spitting cobras, Fitta?). (Result: WIN)

Round 3 saw our batting capitulate for 157 after holding a strong Joondalup side to 186. KFC Brand Ambassador Jayden Rae with a well compiled 54 and Walts chiming in with 27 off his own bat after leading the bowlers with 3/16. (Result: LOSS)

Round 4 found us holding onto a nail biter down at Stevens Reserve as we did our very best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Well placed at 3/188 to chase down Freo’s total of 214 after some classy top order batting from Kody Mulcahy (56), Blake Holly (43 – and then banished to 2nd grade for the remainder of the season) and Jayden Rae (67) we lost the next 5 wickets for 21 runs and just scraped home 8 wickets down .. but choccies are choccies and we will take them every day of the week! (Result: WIN)

Round 5 and our long-awaited return to Kingsway.  A classy innings of 58 from Kealey “Christiano” Farrant with support from Kelsey (22) Rae (26) and the run machine Tyler “No Relation” Brown (24) before the unthinkable collapse of 5/4, got us to under par 169. We gave a good grunt at defending the total but we blinked first and South Perth pushed over the line in the last over. (Result: LOSS)

Round 6 was where I thought we really began to find our mojo (baby). After some lacklustre batting performances Walts threw down the gauntlet to the batting group as a whole and challenged them  to take ownership of their roles – without even the slightest hesitation the toss was won and they were going to get the opportunity to show us what they had straight away. I’ve seen perfect Snooker breaks of 147 before but I think the opening stand of 147 between Kelso (78) and Yusuf Zain (52) was better! Farrant, Walts and Rae all chipped in again and a total of 261 was posted.

Josh Quelch opened with a sizzling display of bowling wreaking havoc on Midland Guildford’s top order leaving them reeling at 4/28. One lone batsman took up the challenge and began despatching our bowlers at will – creating a whole new problem which we had yet to face this season. He dominated for a session and a half and found himself on the positive side of three figures leading off the field at the tea break with around 50 runs to make and 5 wickets still in hand.

A small revv up in the changerooms with a “One more for the Gipper” style speech, and the boys were ready to take up the fight once again and bring the game home.  Josh Q was like a man possessed and the belief and support in the field was electrifying … Walts also with some great death bowling.. the final wicket was taken and raucous celebrations were had. We walked from the field as 8 run victors to the cheers from the 1st graders whose support in the final 10 overs was magnificent. (Result: WIN)

Round 7 and we finally managed to put together back to back victories for the first time this season as we comfortably disposed of Mt Lawley (Wann 9/260 vs ML 149).

Solid performances by Sam Williams at the top of the order (35) and Tyler Brown in the middle (42) gave foundation and support to Kealey Farrant once more as he sizzled with a fine knock of 72. Fitta even remembered how to use a bat and knocked in a quick-fire cameo of 27 with Josh Q banging a run-a-ball 23 late in the innings. Bowling honours shared between newly minted 3rd grade Captain Chris Quelch (2/18) and Gagandeep “Where is he now” Singh. (Result: WIN)

Round 8 – Dukesgate. Melville won the toss and elected (to our delight) to bat on a Tompkins green seamer. We were on top of the world after demolishing the Melville batting line up for 72 – Fitta leading the way with some superb tail end bowling (4/16) and Josh Quelch yet again destroying the top order (3/20). Tim “If you can’t prove it on FrogBox then it never happened” Harris made a return to 3s after plying his trade in 2s to this point of the season and walked away with 6 catches for the innings including an absolute screamer down leg side (but did it really happen, Tim!?). He then opened the batting and top scored, looking as comfortable as you could against the likes of Porter and TKS on a green seamer with a Dukes ball – which was virtually unplayable at times. Ultimately we fell 8 runs short of the total with only 3 batsmen making double figures – Melville well within the rules with their choice of ball; it was an elite display of bowling and we were just underprepared as I don’t think many of our guys had even faced a Dukes ball before.  (Result: Loss)

Round 9 and a demolition of Willetton on Kingsway 2 by 83 runs. A young and in form Kane Pearce strode to the crease on debut with the score at 1 for 1 and proceeded to play like a seasoned professional. He had amassed 97 runs of his own before the smell of self-cooked BBQ got the better of him finding him a couple of meters short of the crease and 3 runs short of a debut ton. K Farrant once again solidified his place as one of the most in form bats in the club with a well composed 84 including 6 fours and 4 sixes. Matt “No Dodgy Mo” Carroll showed why he is a young prospect on the move, bamboozling the batsmen and returning figures of 3/22. Walts with another standard 3 fa, Chris Q and Tippa with 2 a piece. (Result: WIN)

This brought us to the Xmas break with a record of 5W, 3L and 1D and sitting well inside the top 6.

3s and 4s did not play the first round after Xmas so we begin 2022 at Round 11.

Round 11 and we packed our bags for Lark Hill.  A comfortable 52 run victory. Bad ball bully Jacob Bonner was elite at the top of the order – run out for 94 – apparently he hates 100s as well. Harris, McDonald and Farrant contributed well with the bat.  Walts (3/37) and Maff (3/26) lead the way with the ball with Jordy “The Terminator” Slattery And Nick “Tippa” Santich breaking valuable partnerships in the middle of the innings and ending up with 2 wickets each. (Result: WIN)

Round 12 which turned out to be the final 2 day fixture of the season vs Claremont Nedlands. What a round for the Mighty Roos with outright victories in 2s, 3s and 4s. Kelso once again on song headlining the batting with 86 and yet again finding a way to keep us guessing when he will finally break through for his maiden grade 100. Rae with 31, Tyler a handy 32* and Steve “I’ve Got A Tattoo For That” Wiggers with a dominant quick-fire 42. All bowlers contributed to the first innings routing of C/N with A Fitzmaurice the pick of the bunch with 3/14. Second Innings honours went the way of Captain John with 5/43 (7 Wickets for the match) and Maff “The Better” Carroll. Wann 6/228 vs C/N 66 & 102.   (Result: WIN Outright)

Round 13 we held our nerve to stop Scarborough just 7 runs short of our total – a reinvented Sam Williams with a purposeful 34 in an opening stand of 57 with Jayden Rae(29). Yet another batting collapse (8/21) before Walts (30*) and Josh Q (35) got us to a respectable (and defendable for our bowling attack) 166. Enter Steve “Did Anyone Know This Guy Bowls” Wiggers who bowled a near perfect 9 over spell of 3/19. (Result: WIN)

Round 14 vs Ladder toppers Subi Floreat at Alderbury. Kane Pearce found himself amongst the runs again after a stint in 2s and proceeded to delight all and sundry with an entertaining knock of 59. Tippa showed his goods with 27 and Walts yet again dug deep at the lower end for 37 to get us to a respectable 180. Unfortunately we fell just a fraction short with Subi-Floreat bringing up the winning runs in the last over, 8 wickets down.  We weren’t at our best but we had the belief that we could knock over both Melville and Subi-Floreat in the finals and that we were going to be a red hot contender for the flag! (Result: LOSS)

Round 15 and another tight one-day finish to the regular season with a 9 run win over the always so studious University boys. Tim “I Really Hate Frogbox” Harris scored a well deserved 70 and looked a class above. Jayden “Hurt Myself Falling Off A Roof Drunk” Rae produced 35 at the top of the order and Jack Mc chipped in with another start of 23 backed up by some handy bowling figures of 2/22. Rest of the wickets were spread and the restrictive bowling held Uni to just 7/162 in their allotted overs. (Result: WIN)

We finished the regular season in 4th spot with a healthy 9 Win (1 Outright) 4 Loss and 1 Draw record.

Unfortunately, our best cricket for the season had already been played. We bowled well to restrict Joondalup to 193 in the Elimination Final but the batting collapses that had haunted us all season came back to bite us and we were comprehensively rolled for 64.

On the back of our ladder position we still progressed through to the Semi Final against Melville where once again our batting let us down. Melville pulled the old one two punch and where we had prepared for the onslaught of the Dukes ball again during the week, they produced a brand-new Kookaburra and proceeded to bowl the lights out with it. At 9/29 the only shining light came from John “Genuine All-Rounder” Walter with 25* and a sparkling 28 from Matt Carroll to bring our score to 77. Early wickets from Chris Quelch and Jordan Slattery gave us some hope (Mel 3/28) but their batsmen dug in and were just too good for us on the day with the game called at the score of 3/145. Melville went on to defeat Subi-Floreat in the GF.

Season Overview and Thankyou’s

While our finals campaign left a bit to be desired I think we made some great headway this year at different times. The progression of some of the younger emerging players was very nice to see. The development of some of the guys that are a year or two out of juniors now shows promise that some of these guys may yet go on and reach loftier heights during their playing days – keep at it guys and believe in yourselves!

Congratulations to John Walter for taking the mantle of 3rd grade Captain for this season. It is never an easy task when you are trying to manage a relatively young group of players in an ever-changing lineup from week to week. Hold your head high mate – the results speak for themselves – and you always held yourself accountable by your onfield performances as all good captains do.

It was an absolute blessing to have the experience of Chris Quelch in the side when he was available. What you bring to the younger guys is invaluable and I really hope you can come back and do more of it next year – in whatever capacity you can. Absolute champion.

To all of the players that have passed through the sacred space of a 3rd grade Team list this season – thank you. You have all been a pleasure to be around this and I can’t wait to see where you go to from here. I am sorry if I didn’t get to mention every player above but whether you have impacted the scoresheets as heavily as others on a game to game basis or not, know that you have impacted me in some way this season – and for that I give thanks once again.

Sandy Wheeler and David Bebb – hopefully all players (not just 3s) find a way to acknowledge and thank you both for your ongoing efforts. Big hugs to you both – well maybe not you Bebby, that beard of yours is getting out of control!

To Dave and the Committee in general please keep doing what you are all doing so well. This club just keeps getting better year by year because of your efforts.

To the parents/supporters this year it has been a pleasure to see your faces week after week and stop for chats – particularly if it involves lurking in the shadows somewhere for 10 minutes on a 40 degree day.

Finally to Wayno and Kingy, thankyou on behalf of all the players for your efforts week in week out. I am sorry I have not been able to assist more at training but the fact that we had 3 of the 4 grade teams playing finals this year speaks volumes for what you guys have achieved.  With 15s and 17s playing finals this year as well the future looks bright.

Huge congratulations to the 17s Girls and Women’s B-Grade for showing us all how to put flags on the wall!!

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