Sport

Shaun Downie’s sparkling finals campaign shows

By Alex Mitchell

What separates good cricketers from great cricketers is often an ability to turn it on in the big moments.

Shaun Downie’s sparkling finals campaign showed he has that in spades.

The Greg Luscombe medallist’s finals statistics were simply mind-boggling, with 263 runs at 87.7 and nine wickets at 13.4 — figures most players would be happy to produce for an entire season.

His innings of 98, agonisingly short of a grand final ton, was clearly the game-breaking contribution Numurkah needed to end its 45-year Haisman Shield drought, with his 4-55 merely bringing forward the inevitable victory.

Downie said entering the warzone with the Blues struggling at 2-23 was as simple as remembering it was just another game.

‘‘It’s just another game of cricket, isn’t it? You just walk out there and bat. That’s what’s got you there all year, so you just get out there and play cricket,’’ he said.

‘‘It is (an emotional time), it’s been a huge effort by the club in general, and to win today is very special.

‘‘Everyone is over the moon.’’

Batting with Will Arnel, Michael Eckard and Liam Gledhill, Downie saw the score move from 2-23 to 5-196, the perfect platform for the lower order to build a match-winning total.

And with the ball, captain Gledhill stuck strong when the wickets were not coming, with Downie bowling 28.4 overs for his four scalps.

‘‘A score of 280, you’re always going to be happy with that, but at the end of the day you’ve still got to bowl well and you’ve still got to field well,’’ he said.

‘‘The pitch was good and the outfield was quick, so it was always going to be a challenge.

‘‘You’ve got to try and bring overs into the game and I think we did that. Once that had happened, you hope there’s a few rash shots from the opposition and that.’’

In just two seasons with Numurkah after joining from Cobram, Downie has already ticked past the 1000-run mark (1026) and taken 56 wickets, but most importantly has added best-on-ground in a winning grand final to a quickly growing list of milestones.

‘‘It’s been fantastic to be a part of it, to have three senior grades in the grand final and the under-16s there too, it’s been awesome,’’ he said.