Finley Cricket Club’s top side is expected to stay in Division One of the Murray Valley Cricket Association for the 2019/2020 season.
Despite being crowned premiers for the first time in 23 years, club president Matt Whitty said the Division One side isn’t ‘‘ready yet’’ for Premier Division.
He said the club’s vision is to continue developing its junior players next year before making the move up to Premier grade.
However Whitty said some younger players are missing next season to go to university.
‘‘There are some players probably not up to the task yet and I think a lot of the older guys are just going to use Division One to play for a bit more fun and for the social side of things.
‘‘It was really special to see the success and camaraderie of the guys on the field and to see them enjoying their cricket.
‘‘I know previously some of the kids were tired of losing but this year they enjoyed their cricket and had fun. Division One has given us a chance to blood those younger players.
‘‘Coming down from Premier this season gave them the chance to play at a level where they can be competitive, feel comfortable and not out of their depth.’’
Whitty added the top side was blessed with bringing in Adnan Malik to the Finley Cricket Club after recently moving to town.
Malik finished in the top 20 wicket takers in Division One, claiming 12 for the season.
‘‘He was new to town and sought us out. He wanted to play and has been a really handy pick up; we’re hoping he’ll stay next season,’’ Whitty said.
Finley’s Division Two side finished last on the ladder, however Whitty said there were plenty of positives to come away from the year.
‘‘We were always going to struggle for numbers in Division Two with older players, however some younger players in the junior competitions had the chance at senior level.
‘‘We were happy with the development of the players; it was always going to be tough to beat those top sides like Barooga and Katamatite.
‘‘We’re not worried with Division Two finishing last because if you look at the ladder the difference between us and third was only about two wins.
‘‘So there’s not a huge gap between the competition and there were also a few heat outs as well in Division Two.’’
Still savouring the moment from the seven run grand final win against Katunga two weeks ago, Whitty said there’s been nothing but support from across the Finley community.
‘‘Everyone who I’ve spoken to has passed on their congratulations and it has provided a real morale boost for the town,’’ Whitty said.
Also still celebrating the win was Man of the Match Anthony King.
The medium pace bowler made the first breakthrough for the Cats, bowling Trent Baker for six, but will always be able to boast he bowled the match winning wicket when Toby Miles was caught by Duncan Clarke at point.
In the first innings King also contributed with the bat, scoring 18 runs — the second highest total for the Cats with veteran Russell Anderson scoring 21.
‘‘It was a bit of a shock to win Man of the Match but it was a pretty proud moment,’’ King said.
‘‘It’s my second premiership win with Finley; I previously won a flag in 2008 with Division Two.’’
King said his first wicket of the match was ‘‘not a great ball’’ and added he had a feeling he could get the last wicket of the match after his previous over.
‘‘I just bowled something short of a length which set him up and followed it up with a nice full delivery, I think it was last ball of the over, the ball swung down leg side and clipped leg stump.
‘‘Before the last wicket during the previous over I was bowling to the number 11 and he did a good job to keep me out while the senior player (Miles) hit me down the ground for four.
‘‘On the wicket ball I managed to get the ball to swing away. It clipped the edge of the bat and popped up to Duncan.’’
As there was plenty of jubilation by the Finley players King said it took him a moment to realise what had happened.
‘‘I’m not the fittest bloke in the world so I was doing a bit of huffing and puffing,’’ he said with a laugh.
‘‘Once Duncan took the catch the players were running around celebrating.
‘‘Katunga were cruising at 3/70 and they sort of collapsed. We knew we could defend our 100 run total because we’d done it all season.
‘‘All the bowlers and batters contributed not just in the grand final but the whole season,’’ King said.