Back row : Dan Sharpe (Team manager/assistant coach), Pat Forrest coach assistant) 2nd back row ; Tom Forrest, Ben Sharpe, Eamon Hersom, Arush Vaddadi,, Oliver Hunt, Jacob Meaney, Will Steedman, Joe Forrest (coach) Front row: Ben James, Angus Dunkley, Akilan Suresh, Luke Johnston, Jaiden Herath. The pre season saw the Under 12 Camberwell Magpies’ playing list decimated by COVID and the departure of a large number of players into under 14s. With some skilful and deft manoeuvring by under 10s coordinator, Danny James, the under 12B excel spreadsheet went from 6 experienced players returning from their close loss in the semi final in 2022 (James, Sharpe, Meaney, Steedman, Forrest, Vaddadi) to 11 after five, still-under 10, players (Johnstone, Herath, Hersom, Hunt, Dunkley) were encouraged to move up to join us in the team’s pursuit of going one better in 2023. Added to the team was our new member (Suresh) and, suddenly, the 12B Magpies had wings and we just had to let them fly. And fly they did! Despite the younger members of the team experiencing the rigours and discipline involved in under 12Bs cricket for their first time, they excelled with many fine performances and rarely any tears. Over the season. They made substantial contributions to the success of the team and the older boys brought them in like old friends. All boys were enthusiastic towards their cricket and enjoyed improving their skills and seeing their development over the season. As things turned out, the boys went through the season incurring only one loss and they finished minor premiers. Semi Final - CMCC 12Bs 8/211 (W Steedman 52, T Forrest 34, B James 23 A Viddadi 23) off 40 overs def. Clifton Hill 90 (B Sharpe 2/16, B James 2/5, L Johnston 2/10 and A Suresh 2/12) The boys went into the semi final quietly confident but determined to avoid a repeat of 2022. Before a huge crowd at Anderson Park with marquees, deck chairs and platters of food and drink, skipper Sharpe won the toss and batted first and the lads amassed a great score of 8/211 (Steedman 52 rtno, Forrest 34, James 23, Vaddadi 23) from 40 overs after a tricky start. They showed composure and determination to bat the 40 overs with a lower order exhibition of fine batting from Suresh and Viddadi one of the highlights. After demolishing some party pies and sausage rolls, etc the boys set about the task of defending their score. Clifton Hill was no match for our boys’ accurate bowling and excellent fielding amassing only 90 in the run chase. Two wickets each were spread amongst four bowlers (James, Sharpe, Suresh and Johnston). The Junior Vice President was so impressed by the cricket and the lunch that he vowed to return to the same venue next week to support the boys (and enjoy the lunch!) Grand Final - CMCC 9/190 (T Forrest 49no, B Sharpe 39no) def North Alphington 128 (W Steedman 2/6 , T Forrest 2/9) Both teams played competitively showing great sportsmanship. The grand final saw the boys (and the Junior Vice President) return to Anderson Park to host third placed North Alphington (which boasts 5 under 12 boys teams (they must be doing something with the water over the other side of the Yarra)) and the marquees and lunchtime spread again. With Anderson Park heaving with families, spectators, onlookers and the obligatory dogs running amok, Sharpe lost the toss and told the boys the good news that we were batting first. The good news didn’t last long as our two openers (Hunt and Meaney) were sent packing by some good bowling. We were in trouble early at 2/6. One worried Magpies parent almost drove off the road on the way back from golf in Echuca early in the morning whilst refreshing MyCricket. No 3 Steedman steadied the ship and looked on course to repeat his fantastic half century in the semi final when he was undone by a quicker ball and bowled. At 3/29, the innings needed some cool and responsible batting and two of our experienced players, vice captain Forrest and Ben James, set about steadying the innings against some pretty accurate bowling. After each retiring after their allotted 30 balls, the score was moving along to the mid 80s. By now skipper Sharpe was in and working hard to splay the bad balls and keep out the good balls. Unfortunately, the accurate bowling stepped up a notch and a couple of wickets fell before we went to drinks on 5/100 at the 20 over mark. But 5 runs per over was a good rate in the GF and 200 was achievable if we kept our wickets. Stressing batting the 40 overs, keeping wickets in hand and that the runs will come, the boys went out to bat with a renewed sense of determination. Sharpe continued his strong batting eventually retiring after 30 balls on 24; however, the NACC boys’ stepped up their attack on the lower order and rattled the timbers regularly from accurate bowling. Vivaddi showed his extra net sessions had improved his defence as kept out the good balls and survived his 30 balls scoring 5 runs - a low return for his efforts but he played a critical role in the team’s attempt to bat out the 40 overs. Despite this in 7 overs, we fell to 8/132 and the game had seriously turned against the CMCC 12Bs. It had been the best bowling performance our boys had faced all season - the northerners had deserved their success. Our four retired batters were able to return to the crease but with only 2 wickets in hand, it was going to be touch and go. There was a level of confidence (and disbelief) amongst the Magpies’ supporters that if we could eek out another 20 - 30 runs we would set a defendable total. That confidence was shaken when Ben James (our season’s leading batsman) had his spring loaded off stump knocked back after a vicious off cutter squeezed its way through the gate for 15. That left us extremely vulnerable at 9/132 after 27 overs and in real danger of being dismissed short of a competitive total. With work to do and 13 overs still to play, the skipper Sharpe strode to the wicket to join the vice captain Forrest to try to build a partnership to prolong the innings for as long as possible. They scrapped, fought, defended and looked to score singles and twos with the occasional boundary when possible. The secret was to hit the ball along the ground and they did just that. The two leaders of the team put on a fine batting display of strength, courage, maturity and determination to navigate their way from 9/132 to to 9/190 at the end of 40 overs with Forrest finishing on 49 not out and Sharpe finishing on 39 not out. Their batting helped our CMCC boys to an incredibly strong position in the 2023 GF. There was renewed optimism and relief form the Magpies parents and supporters as we munched on our chicken sandwiches during the 30 minute break between innings, reflected on what could have been and settled in for the NACC innings. Between mouthfuls, even the Junior Vice President had a smile on his face to replace the furrowed brow and worried facial expressions during the collapse of wickets. The boys were up and about as if nothing had happened and keen to start their attack. The innings commenced at 1.05pm and the bowling was less accurate than usual resulting in the northerners getting a wriggle on to 15 after 3 overs and on target. Forrest was then flung the ball to start the fourth and, after bowling a couple of loose ones with his customary 18 step run up, he took his coach’s advice and reduced it to 5 steps ( oa la D K Lillee and W Akram) and was instantly rewarded bowling the opener to have them 1/15. The No 3, Fanning, strode to the crease and looked the goods with some powerful shots, but our tight bowling held him down to singles and 2s. Vivaddi was in the game again, almost taking an incredible catch at deep square leg from the No 3’s rare but deadly hook shot which saved five runs. The No 3 survived but continued to hit a lot in the air landing them short and wide of our fielders and he rode his luck well. Then came the dangerous left arm round the wicket medium fast bowling from Meaney who was brought into the attack. Some inconsistent bowling for his first 5 balls was followed by an absolute peach that came in hard at the right handed batter and smashed through his defence rattling the timbers with great force. At 2/40 in the 14th, the boys’ tight bowling had reduced the run rate to 3 an over. Our boys continued to bowl accurately and tightened the screws but the NACC batters were resilient and kept out the good balls whilst continuing to tick over the scoring. However, their the run rate continued to decline and at the 20 over drinks break, our opponents were 2/54. After a quick chat and a drink, the boys continued to apply pressure. Mr Accurate, Ben James, came back into the attack and got a break through with another stumps rattler and at 3/81 in the 26th over, NACC’s task was made harder. Then the onslaught began and the boys took 4/24 in the next 10 overs; the highlights being the incredible tracer like throw from the deep by Luke Johnstone which had the crowd (and the fielders) roaring their approval; Hunt’s caught and bowled; and another run out, this time by the skipper, at short mid on. At 7/105, the NACC tail enders decided it was time to have a dash and they got some reward, but the CMCC boys continued with their relentless accuracy and precision. Excellent bowling from Meaney, Vaddadi, Suresh, Hersom and Herath showed the depth of our bowling battery. Then another wicket to Forrest to complete a great day for him brought NACC to 8/123. Excellent catches by Hersom and wicketkeeper Dunkley (down the leg side) sat the remaining two wickets from 3 balls for Steedman bringing an end to the proceedings and returning 2/6 off 3.4 overs for him. Special mention to Angus Dunkley who excelled behind the stumps in both finals games. An excellent final series from the boys with two great games which had the typical ups and downs of great cricket matches. They thoroughly winning the flag after the work they have put in to improve their cricket over a long season.
Joe Forrest - Coach