Sport

Numurkah’s captain sings the praises of his bowlers

By Tyler Maher

After making 282 on day one of the Cricket Shepparton Haisman Shield grand final, Liam Gledhill knew his charges were always going to be in the game during Katandra’s reply.

Eagles Jedd Wright and Scott Richardson compiled a hard-fought 100-run partnership, but it would only take one wicket for the dam wall to show some cracks.

When that wicket eventually came — with Mitch Grandell standing tall under a skied ball at short third-man — the Blues were able to turn to screws and earn themselves a first A-grade premiership since 1973-74.

‘‘We spoke about it (Saturday) night, we feel more comfortable in the field with a score on the board,’’ Gledhill said.

‘‘We know what we can do, we know we can defend well and field well and take our catches and it was a bit nerve-racking there for a while when Jedd and Richo were batting, but obviously ‘Guppa’ (Shaun Downie) and ‘Ecky’ (Michael Eckard), the way they bowled after (lunch) we were just really able to bring them back and take a couple of key wickets.

‘‘Forty-five years is a bloody hell of a long time. I see some faces here today that are club legends of ours who are all here and supporting us and they just want success for the club and for them to see it today is just so huge.

‘‘Guys that are 70, 80 are here today and they’ve got a tear in their eye and that’s what it’s all about and we’re just so happy that we were able to create history.

‘‘We were on the losing end of it last year and this year it feels bloody good to win it.’’

Most of Numurkah’s latest A-grade premiership heroes are a product of the club’s own junior system as well, making the win even more special.

‘‘I would say probably 90 per cent of this side have all played juniors at this club and they’ve all come back together at the one time to do this and to get a flag,’’ Gledhill said.

‘‘A lot of people might say that they’re not locals, but I tell you what if you have a look at the history books they’ve played a lot of cricket for this club and that’s why they’re so pleased here at the moment.

‘‘I’m just happy to jump on the coattails of a few good young cricketers.’’

The star of the decider in Downie was not one of those former club products, but now will forever go down in history as a Numurkah stalwart after producing a finals series for the ages that netted him 263 runs and nine wickets — as well as a Greg Luscombe Medal.

‘‘Guppa is a star mate, he’s a star,’’ Gledhill said.

‘‘He was a big signing for us two years ago, I knew what we were going to get. I played with him in the Murray Valley and you’re going to get a competitor whether it’s with the bat or the ball and he showed that over the whole finals series.

‘‘His finals series was just huge and I knew that he could do it, he hadn’t done it throughout his two years, but it just clicked in the finals series this year.

‘‘He’s a club legend now, we’re forever indebted to Guppa.

‘‘I’m so happy and so pleased for the club and for the boys, they’ve toiled away for the last two years and we didn’t get it last year, but it was great to get the points (this time).

‘‘We’ll celebrate long and hard.’’