Casino peg one back over Ballina
THE emerging cricket rivalry between the beach and the bush spawned another chapter over the weekend with Ballina succumbing to Casino in a final-ball thriller.
Playing for a spot in the one-day final of the LJ Hooker League, west got the better of east in the 40-over match to gain some revenge for last year’s cliff-hanger loss in the two-day final.
The cricket powerhouses have battled for top spot on the ladder throughout the season and had to wait until the weekend to face off for the first time.
Casino skipper Al Nowlan was blown away with the quality of the game as much as the performance of his team.
“What an incredible game; we got bowled out with one ball to spare and they lost their last wicket with the last ball,” Nowlan said.
“Ballina got us in the last over of the final so it was a great way for us to return the favour. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Chasing a total of 156 Ballina looked to be cruising at 3-117 with overs up their sleeve, but a Nowlan-inspired surge pulled the game back into the balance just as it was slipping away.
With Dave Eddy (44) and Toby Hordern (34) comfortable, Nowlan bought veteran off-spinner Mick Wood into the attack looking for a result. Eddy’s eyes lit up and he belted the spinner through the leg-side only to be intercepted by the waiting captain who took a screamer at mid-on.
Nowlan then took the ball at the other end and clean bowled big-hitting Sam Adams before having Hordern caught behind to slow Ballina’s roll.
No batsman really got going again after that, but when Wade Sweeney took the ball for the final over Ballina only needed six runs with three wickets in hand.
Then panic set in.
Two run-outs saw No 11 Adam Izzard take strike for the final delivery, needing two runs to win.
Izzard cracked the ball straight to Adam Shields who claimed the catch and the match to book a spot in the final.
Nowlan was proud as punch with the comeback.
“That was as good as I’ve seen the boys play,” he said.
“We were gone for all money but they never gave up.”
The captain said the jibes were flying quickly after the match, tongue-in-cheek of course.
“As soon as we finished they said, ‘We will just concentrate on the two-dayers’, and I’ve thought, oh here we go again,” he said.
Ballina will have their shot at vengeance when the sides clash again in the final round of the season. The result of that match is likely to dictate if and when the pair will meet again in the finals.