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A Classic Grand Final at the KRO

SAVCA Over 50's Grand Final Adelaide University v Kensington, Karen Rolton Oval, 6/3/22

Written by Mick Sheppard

Photos by Mark Willoughby Photography

If there ever was the perfect advertisement for Veterans Cricket, the Grand Final of the Over 50's South Australian Veterans Cricket Association (SAVCA) competition was it! Two traditional rival clubs in Adelaide University and Kensington faced off at the Karen Rolton Oval, second only to The Adelaide Oval in SA. The venue was perfectly suited to the occasion.

Before play began, Anthony Telfer led the teams and all at the ground for a minute's silence to honour and respect the sudden passing of Rod Marsh and Shane Warne, two giants of Australian Cricket; their passing had affected everyone associated with the game. Respect, honour, tradition, and the Spirit of Cricket take pride in Veterans cricket, which was on show all day.

Electing to send University in, on a hard, green surface, Kensington was looking to strike early. They did with captain Andrew Rumbelow leading from the front by removing the dangerous Paul Kerber LBW for eight and his opening partner Sean Nugent for 10. Enter Graham Crawford. The Blacks were in trouble, and Crawford watched his partners fall at the other end. With Crawford retiring, Uni was in a big hole, having blasted a timely 40 just before drinks where Uni were 5/76.

A partnership to stop the wickets and give Uni a total to defend was required, a captain's knock, if you will. University Captain Leo Panzarino and Iggy Mareolas put their heads down to get the fightback started. Iggy, known for his bowling, held his up end of the bargain by turning over the strike to the power-hitting of Panzarino. Panzarino came into the game under an injury cloud and fought through the evident pain to start turning the momentum back in Uni's favour, striking some well-timed drives through the off-side fitting for the stage and the event. Both he and Mareolas retired on 40 to bring in the swashbuckling tail. Ryan Burt lifted the run rate incredibly by smashing the ball to all parts, hitting 27 off just 12 balls, with Crawford resuming his innings, finishing up with a well-earned 51 off just 36 balls. Uni helped themselves in the last ten overs scoring 82 runs and setting a respectful 209 for victory. Being in trouble early, Uni had enough to defend, but many thought it was just a par score.

Were they ten runs short?

The Kensington top order had been terrorising the competition all summer, and they got the second innings off to a blistering start. Michael Silvey and Barry Steele kept the runs ticking over, both retiring on 40 to hand over to Anthony Heidrich, who kept the momentum moving along in the run chase, again retiring on a run a ball 40. Kensington was cruising in the chase as Leo changed the bowling around to no avail.

However, he did have two aces up his sleeve. Craig Vandervlag and Graham Crawford. Leo injected Vandervlag into the game the over before the drinks break. The Browns were coasting and their captain at the crease. The momentum started to shift, the last ball before drinks with Vandervlag catching the outside edge of Rumbelows bat, which keeper Dennis Cester gleefully took. Going into the drinks break, Kensington was 2/105, well in front, but they had just lost their captain. A hush went around the ground, was this the change in momentum or just a small speed bump on the road to victory?

After drinks Rick Battersby bowled a maiden, job done, and Craig Vandervlag, fresh off a wicket, had Russell Thompson on strike.

Knick, gone!

Another caught behind, the man they call Vanders, The Statue or was it Postie, was now earning his new name The Rolls Royce, with two wickets in two balls!

The hat-trick wasn't to be, but the momentum swung back towards Uni. A few overs later, Kensington hit back with a few boundaries.

Then Vanders removed Ian Rice, his third wicket.

The crowd was building as people were telling their mates,

"Get to 'K-RO' we have a game for the ages going on"

The runs were drying up; wickets were falling. Leo pulled his second ace from up his sleeve and let Graham Crawford loose to attempt to bring the game back to Uni's favour. Even at the 38th over, the game was Kensington's to lose.

With two overs to go, the score was 4/201, only eight runs to win and six wickets in hand.

The equation was simple, eight runs of 12 balls. Pressure does funny things.

Enter Graham Crawford for his 6th and last over.

Two wickets in two balls.

It's now 6/201, no hat-trick, but the last ball of the over Crawford hits Chris Humphrys thigh pad, the ball trickles down the leg side, Dennis Cester, quick as a flash backhand flicks towards the stumps and has Humphrys out stumped, 7/201!

Last over, Rick Battersby, ball in hand with all the pressure, the Browns still need eight runs to win, enter Barry Steele, 1st ball of the last over Rob Muir (batting with a runner after suffering a calf injury whilst bowling), turns the strike over to Steele to get the job done.

Seven to win from 5 balls.

Five runs from the next three balls bring us to a dramatic finish with two runs to score from the remaining two balls. Muir, with a runner, on strike, it hits his pads, the runner, Faulkner takes off, the throw comes in, and in a photo finish, he is run out!

Barry Steele is on strike for two runs to win from the last ball!

Play and a miss, Chester throws down the stumps to run out Silvey and Uni wins by one run!! What a fantastic finish!

The SAVCA over 50's grand final, played on the grandest of stages, Karen Rolton Oval, was decided on the last ball of the day in the most dramatic fashion possible.

Both teams played some brilliant & entertaining cricket keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats right to the last ball of the day. This game will be remembered for many years and spoken about for many more, quite possibly the best game of Cricket anyone has seen for a very long time!

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