Photo Credit: On Shot Photography
By Ahmad Khawaja
From Action Indoor Sports Stadium Hornby, Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday 6 October 2018:
After eight days of fierce competition, the tenth edition of the WICF Junior World Series came to a conclusion in Christchurch, with eight teams battling it out in the grand finals over all four grades to be crowned World Champions.
By now we all know who claimed glory at the Junior World Series, but here’s a re-cap of each final, from which an appreciative, boisterous crowd of up to 600 people turned up to watch. It was the culmination of a brilliant tournament both on and off the court, played in the right spirit, with the right respect and etiquette befitting of the sport. All players and officials who were involved in the tournament should be proud of their efforts and set this as a precedent for all future World Indoor Cricket tournaments going forward. Here’s how the matches panned out:
17 & Under Boys Grand Final:
Summary Score: New Zealand 100 (Craig 24, Conroy 16, Van Zyl 1/3, Potgieter 1/11) def. South Africa 74 (Watt 24, Small 19, Driscoll 2/0, Jackson 3/2)
Net Scores: New Zealand – Conroy +13, James +9, Field +9; South Africa – Watt +13, Small +4
Result: New Zealand won by 26 runs
In front of a vocal hometown crowd, the New Zealand 17 & Under Boys followed through on their decisive performances all week to deliver a World title at the end of it with a 26-run win over South Africa in the grand final. In doing so, they brought New Zealand their first junior World title since the 16 & Under Boys victory at the 2012 event in Johannesburg.
It was the culmination of a wonderful tournament for the New Zealand outfit, who had only lost one match throughout the competition, ironically to their grand final opponents. But their batting again stood up when it counted, scoring an imposing 100 up front and asking the South Africans to make more than a run-a-ball to win it. The Proteas fought hard and kept themselves in the hunt with Kian Schwartz and William Harrison requiring 35 in the last pair to win. But it proved to be too much of an ask in the end, and as the match reached its climax, no one in the stadium on that day will forget Tom McDonald’s two sprawling catches, one to his right, one to his left, in consecutive deliveries off Joey Field to stop two back net shots and definitively seal the win for New Zealand. It was simply their day.
Earlier in the match, the Kiwis set the platform with an ominous total. Ryan James and big Joey Field opened up and despite ten dot-balls throughout the pair, found the right nets at the right time, not dropping a wicket on their way to 28. Captain and MVP Micah Conroy alongside second-placed MVP Regan Craig then turned the ledger well into New Zealand’s favour, as they piled up 40 for the second pair. The pair didn’t let the South African bowlers settle nor let their front court fielders into the game as they attacked the side nets, and supplemented it with finding the back net three times in the four overs. With 68 on the board after eight overs it was going all New Zealand’s way, but South Africa grafted their way back into the match. Harrison picked up their first wicket in the 9th over, as Canterbury duo Tom McDonald and Jackson Hemingway had to battle for their runs. The highlight for the skin was the ten singles that were scored from their 20 runs, which involved several dives to ensure they made their ground, as Small, Josh Taylor and Connor Clark bowled some tight overs in what was an enthralling contest from both sides. The Proteas built on their good work in the third pair into the fourth, reducing Ryan Jackson and Josh Driscoll to just 12 runs. Captain Rourke Van Zyl and Enrico Potgieter both produced a run-out apiece through the middle overs as the South African fielders built some good pressure. The Proteas bowled 10 runs in extras, and despite 30 dot-balls and three third-ball plays, could only manage three wickets, the product of which was a tough total of 101 to chase.
South Africa got off to a good start in the chase with Potgieter and Small making 29 to open up. Driscoll produced a run-out early on and the New Zealand bowlers forced nine dot-balls, but the pair found the back net when needed. That included 16 off McDonald’s over, with Small launching a big seven. Despite the efforts of Sheldon Watt, New Zealand brought themselves back into the contest in the second pair. Jackson and Hemingway took a wicket apiece through the middle, both caught, before Conroy had Clark out twice in the last over. Watt meanwhile scored 24 off 12 balls without dismissal, and hammered a seven off Conroy off the last ball to get South Africa to 46 after eight overs. With 55 needed over the last eight overs, Taylor and Van Zyl attacked the second over of Regan Craig, taking 14 off it to have 19 after two overs. However, Driscoll struck back with a lovely third over, which included a run-out off a third ball, and James finished with a run-out himself as South Africa continued their search for runs. The match was in the balance in the last four overs but Jackson put paid to this with two wickets in the first over. With 28 needed off 12 balls, and then 24 off nine, McDonald exacted two those two brilliant catches to put the match out of reach and Conroy picked up two more to finish with four for the match.
The 26-run win probably didn’t quite reflect the end result as the South Africans had to chance their arm at the end. But New Zealand underlined their status as the best team of the tournament and deservedly laid claim to the title of Champions.
17 & Under Girls:
Summary Score: Australia 77 (Turner 18, Genford 16, Dixon 16, Hucker 3/-3, Fenton 2/1) def. New Zealand 61 (Jonas 13, Wells 12, Rockliff 2/0, Vallance 2/1)
Net Scores: Australia – Turner +11, Genford +9, Rockliff +9; New Zealand – Hucker +9, Fenton +7
Result: Australia won by 16 runs
It was another back-and-forth battle between the two best sides in the competition but it was Australia who came away with the title after recording a 16-run win over New Zealand in the 17 & Under Girls final.
New Zealand had gotten the better of the ledger between the two sides during the tournament by two to one, after defeating Australia in the major semi-final the previous day and forcing the Australians to come through the preliminary final against New Zealand A. But with each preceding result being under a margin of 15 runs, we were set for a close run contest. It also proved to be lower scoring than expected with New Zealand putting up only 61 in their 16 overs. Australia then paced the chase very well, almost reaching the New Zealand total by the end of the third pair. Despite a double breakthrough by Kate Fenton in the first over of the last pair, Emily Vallance and Shekinah Friske held on through the onslaught and pushed through to get Australia over the line. It gave them a second straight World title (after their 18 & Under Girls side won the same title at the 2015 World Series in Brisbane).
Australia started out of the blocks very well, with Sarah Turner and 3rd placed MVP Angelina Genford making 34 in the first pair. New Zealand’s bowling was a bit loose as the pair peppered the side nets. New Zealand brought themselves back into the game right away though, with Amie Hucker grabbing a double in her over, while Georgia Wells and captain Skye Bowden chipped in with one apiece to reduce Taylah Gregory and Stacey Rockliff to just eight runs. Whilst there were only three dot-balls, the pair offered New Zealand three caught out dismissals in return. Hucker continued her great spell into the third pair, finishing with 3/-3 as she had Claire Levings caught early in the piece. However, captain and MVP Katrina Dixon took charge of the skin and despite another two catches to Georgia Plimmer and Saffron Wilson, shepherded the skin to 18 and Australia to 60 after 12 overs. Kate Fenton struck straight away in the 13th over, having Shekinah Friske caught and Emily Vallance run out, to put New Zealand in the ascendancy. But the pair rallied back, making 23 in the last three overs through some relatively risk-free cricket, to put 17 on for the skin and set New Zealand a target of 78 to win. New Zealand claimed one of their four third-ball opportunities and were disciplined in their bowling, giving away just six runs in extras.
With New Zealand having made over 80 on all three occasions in their matches against Australia, there would have been some confidence in the camp in the chase. The aim would have to put runs on the board to set it up for the latter pairs. Despite a run-out to Rockliff in the second over, Wells and Saffron Wilson safely negotiated the first four overs to put 19 on the board. Vallance then struck twice in the fifth over with a run-out and catch, and while Fenton and Alyssa Bowden recovered to make 18 in the last three overs, their 11 in total for the pair took New Zealand to 30 after eight overs. The game was certainly in the balance at this stage and Australia continued the pressure with some tight overs from Dixon, Friske and Gregory keeping Hucker and Fenton to 19, giving the elder Bowden and Plimmer 29 to chase for the win. Genford had Plimmer caught in the first over and Australia managed to restrain the pair as they were not able to find the back net. While they bowled 14 runs in extras, their additional nine dot-balls came into play in the latter stages.
With 18 needed off the last two overs, both girls had to take some risks and Australia took their chances when it counted. In the end, in what was befitting of their battles over the past week, Australia claimed the Championship with a very tough 15-run win.
15 & Under Boys:
Summary Score: Australia 134 (Coady 27, Fitzpatrick 22, Hesline 22, Thomson 2/-1, Leemans 1/15) def. South Africa 72 (Giraudeaux 19, Pistorius 17, McComb 3/-6, Fitzpatrick 3/-4)
Net Scores: Australia – Fitzpatrick +26, Hesline +14; South Africa – Thomson +6, Leemans +0
Result: Australia won by 62 runs
After falling to New Zealand in a thriller on the opening night and setting the tournament alight, the Australian 15 & Under Boys returned to court three a week later having won their next eight matches on the bounce and announcing themselves as the team to beat in the competition. They met their counterparts South Africa, who they had beaten in all three contests over the past week, but who had come through with a decisive effort against New Zealand in the major semi-final. But it was the Australian boys who backed up some dominant performances during the tournament with another exemplary outing in the final; a clinical win that gave them back-to-back Junior World titles (following up the 16 & Under Boys’ win in Brisbane in 2015).
Excluding their first match, the Australians had scored over 100 in every outing subsequently and in a comfortable manner, and it was looking much the same way after captain Jordan Hesline and Reiley Mark opened with 37 in the first pair. Despite Mark being bowled early on by Dylan Thomson, the Victorian duo found the back net three times thereon, and smartly worked the side nets to set the platform. Ethan Fitzpatrick and MVP Tom Coady continued the great work, again finding the back when needed but importantly turning the strike over consistently. They conceded only three dot balls as South Africa’s extras bowling started to pile up. Their 49 seemed almost effortless and took Australia to 86 after just eight overs. The Proteas pulled it back in the third pair, with Stefan Leemans having Declan McComb caught early on, before Ryan Rosekilly had the same man run out with his first ball. Thomson’s extra pace then finished things off, as he went right through Mahdee Islam on a third ball to keep the pair to 13. A crucial fourth pair saw Jai Lemire (in his first year of competitive indoor cricket) and Sam Wetering step up to the task in the face of some tight bowling. A testament to that was the ten singles conceded by the Proteas, however the pair still went on to make 35, not giving the front court many chances. Australia, yet again, piled up an imposing 134, setting South Africa 135 to win.
South Africa came out fighting in chase of the total though, and as it so often had happened during the week, the first two pairs set the tone. While McComb struck with a third-ball run-out in the second over, Leemans and Armand Bodenstein recovered to make 22 in the last two overs. That included 15 from the last over from Lemire where they struck five twos and a back net five to make 29 and get their team off to the right start. Christopher Pistorious and Byron Giraudeaux continued the good start, making 36 in the second skin. That included 27 through the middle overs off Coady and Hesline, as they missed their lengths and the batsmen were happy to come down the wicket as a result. Lemire pulled one back as the game ended up well poised after eight overs; South Africa requiring 70 off the last two pairs. With large chases every pair has to go to plan and unfortunately some indecision cost Thomson and Keegan Steyn. Australia pounced on this, producing four run-outs in the next four overs. Islam and Fitzpatrick picked up one apiece while McComb’s double saw him finish with the impressive figures of 3/-6. 68 was always going to be a tough ask for Rosekilly and Connor Foley for the last pair as understandably some wickets tumbled in the final four overs, as they chanced their arm for the win.
But at the end of it, it was Australia who were triumphant in lifting the trophy yet again. And in a show of superb respect and sportsmanship, the South Africans created a bat-laden guard of honour for the Australians to walk through after the match, an enduring image which showed the etiquette of sport is alive and well.
13 & Under Boys:
Summary Score: Australia 70 (Grech 23, Demattia 15, Steyn 3/-1, Bishop 2/1) lost to South Africa 102 (Bishop 18, Coetzee 18, Schreuder 17, Kent 1/6, Grech 1/7)
Net Scores: Australia – Grech +16, Demattia +1; South Africa – Bishop +17, Steyn +15
Result: South Africa won by 32 runs
The South Africa 13 & Under Boys put the finishing touches on a great tournament to claim South Africa’s first junior World Indoor title in any grade since 2005 with a 32-run win over rivals Australia in the grand final.
South Africa had looked the better team for most of the competition after sweeping through the round-robin with nine wins out of ten. However they dropped that solitary match to Australia and were also smarting from their major semi-final loss to the same opposition to the night previously, when Australia decisively won that encounter 133-79. In the finale though they came out with the right strategy to atone for that, and managed to pass Australia’s total of 70 by the end of the third skin. Final pair Ewald Schreuder and Xavier de Wee then pushed on in the last four overs to seal a historic win for the Proteas.
Earlier on, the dynamic of the match changed with Australia batting first, given South Africa had defended in ten of their 11 matches to date in the tournament. And yet again, as they had done so through the tournament, Zachary Grech and Harry Demattia got Australia off to the perfect start, with 38 in the first pair. The duo hadn’t scored less than 30 together throughout the week, and continued their great work as they worked the sides well and conceded only three dot-balls. The Proteas then came right back into the contest as the last 12 overs saw only 32 runs scored. Quick bowler de Wee started the run with two wickets in the sixth over, while Lhuan-Dre Pretorius’ lofted right-arm off-spin taking another as Cooper Petterson and Nicholas Kent were restricted to 11 runs. Captain Ross Coetzee snared two in the 9th over and Hayden Bishop’s flighted leg-spin turned and spun hard off the surface to bring out two clean stumpings and reduce Luke Meek and Anthony Atlee to 11 as well. Caleb Candeppa and Cameron Frendo batted diligently through their first three overs, turning over the strike with ones and twos. However Nico Steyn struck three decisive blows in the last over to turn the momentum in South Africa’s favour as they were set 71 to win.
Coetzee, the third-placed MVP, and Steyn then set about the target assertively as they put on 32 for the first pair. And despite a wicket from Kent in the sixth over, Bishop and Jacob Sacks put on 26 in the second pair, as they waited patiently by placing the ball for ones and twos, while the Australians struggled for their line in conceding ten runs in extras. With 58 on the board at the half-way mark, Ruan Muller and Pretorius repeated the same dose in the third skin, with a further ten runs in extras meaning they needed to take little risk, before Grech struck in the final over. However their 19 meant the Proteas were seven runs in front going into the final pair, and Australia would have to chase the game. Schreuder then put an exclamation mark on the match with a straight seven off the penultimate ball to seal an excellent win for the South Africans.
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