By Romy Stephens
Two young cricketers from the eastern suburbs helped Vic Country claim its inaugural U15 National Cricket Championships in Ballarat on 27 February.
Emerald’s Flynn Smith and Berwick’s Jaxon Binns were important players as their side defeated Queensland, with Vic Country batting all out for 161 off 48 overs.
The National Championships saw state and territories broken into two pools with the winner of each pool to play off in the Grand Final.
At the start of the final round, Vic Country was in third place while Vic Metro and NSW Magenta held the top two spots on the ladder.
According to Vic Country coach Paul Montgomery, the stars somehow aligned for his side to make it through to the big dance.
Vic Country needed to gain a bonus point and have both Vic Metro and NSW lose for the side to finish top of the pool ladder.
“We probably got a bit lucky in the end,” he said.
“Vic Metro had a batting collapse against Tasmania…We sort of pushed for a bonus point for the last game and it got us into the final.”
With Vic Metro losing by one run against Tasmania and NSW also going down, Vic Country was propelled into the Grand Final against an in-form Queensland outfit.
“You’re always a chance of winning but they’d had a really strong tournament,” Paul said.
“We looked at how they played their tournament, we knew their bowlers were really strong.
“Their batting hadn’t been tested a lot across the course of the week.
“We thought that if we could get a score on the board and put their batters under pressure we would be a chance.”
During the Grand Final, Flynn took out one of Queensland’s opening batsmen in the first over and restricted Queensland runs at crucial moments during the game. He finished with bowling stats of 2/11 off five overs.
Over the tournament, Jaxon, as an opening batsman, made 224 runs (sixth for the competition) and was inducted as a team member of the Cricket Australia U16 National Squad of 20 players.
“As a player who likes to get on with the game, score quickly and has a good intent to work he’s the sort of player they look at from the Cricket Australia level,” Paul said.
Paul added that as a handy left-arm bowler, Flynn wasn’t far off the National Squad.
The win marked the first time Vic Country has won a National Championship since it was introduced to the competition in 2015.