BDCA 2023: Determined Marist deliver once again as Leschenault’s finals curse continues

Justin FrisBunbury Herald
Marist playing-coach Shawn Gillies bats.
Camera IconMarist playing-coach Shawn Gillies bats. Credit: Shannon Verhagen

This appeared to be the season where everything looked like finally falling into place for Leschenault.

Aside from some senior figures and talented juniors Nico Le Roux and Tyne Dodds, the Green Caps invested in UK imports Jamie Harrison and Oliver Currill.

Their cricket was cohesive, wins piled up and good times were aplenty at Leschenault Recreation Park, as the runaway league leaders celebrated an undefeated minor premiership-winning season.

However when the finals arrived, things spiralled downhill — an unwanted trend so often the case in recent times for Leschenault.

Attempting to bounce back from their three-wicket home loss against Colts in the second semi-final, the Green Caps lost to a determined Marist by 53 runs in Saturday’s preliminary final on their home deck.

While home supporters mourned another cruel ending, Blues players and diehards were in dreamland — and for good reason, considering less than a month ago, they sneaked into fourth spot on the final day of the season via percentage.

Leschenault skipper Tom Buchanan won the toss and sent the Blues in, despite ideal conditions for batting.

Unleashing their trademark pace unit, the home side secured an early blow, after Marist opener Haydn Slodecki nicked an early delivery through to Green Caps ‘keeper Nico Le Roux.

It was slow going for the Blues, due to a mixture of tight bowling, coupled with a desire to preserve each wicket diligently.

At 3-42 midway during the 18th over following the dismissal of first-drop Cory Fitt, Brayden Clarke and Cooper Clarke-Dehring both stood firm in a bid to grind out runs wherever possible.

Gradually, this pressure paid off, with excellent late knocks from clean-hitting Shawn Gillies (43 off 79 balls) and Dan Lomax (41 not out off 27 balls) ensuring the Blues batted out their overs (finishing on 8-195) and took a degree of momentum with them heading into their defence of 196.

In reply, the Green Caps crashed to 3-30 inside eight overs, with Michael Chappell (3-31 off nine overs) doing the damage.

As each Leschenault wicket fell, fears of another premature finals exit surfaced on the grassy banks at the pavilion end — surely the dream of a deserved grand final appearance wasn’t over?

Buchanan (54 off 96 balls) tried in vain to help his side find a way back against the odds, however the Blues, who continue to believe in one another under Kyle Davis’s leadership, were not to be denied.

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