By Russell Bennett
The stifling heat at Pakenham’s Toomuc Reserve for the West Gippsland Cricket Association’s Kookaburra Cup Twenty-20 final day was matched only by the heat of the action out in the middle as the home side claimed its second trophy in the history of the tournament.
The Lions began the day taking on Cranbourne Meadows on the back oval at Toomuc Reserve, while on the front ground Devon Meadows battled it out with Nar Nar Goon/Maryknoll.
Pakenham restricted Cranbourne Meadows to just 8/94 from its 20 overs in their semi-final and, astonishingly, only conceded one boundary for the innings as Tom Tyrrell (3/18) and Sean Gramc (3/14) snared three wickets apiece.
The Lions didn’t exactly have things all their own way in the chase, however, reaching the target with an over to spare for the loss of six wickets (6/96) as Troy McDermott (22 not out) and Ben Maroney (22) top-scored.
On the front ground, an 83-run opening stand between Luke Hamilton and marquee player and DDCA star, former Sri Lankan ODI player Kaushalya Weeraratne (44) set the Panthers well on the path to a match-winning total.
Though, ultimately, they were their side’s only two batsmen to pass 20, they laid the foundations for the innings as Devon Meadows ultimately reached 6/168 from their 20 overs.
The Marygoons went into the clash without star top-order batsman Michael Giles (due to a significant hamstring injury), and lost Daniel Glen in the cruelest of circumstances during the chase.
He appeared to sustain a serious knee injury while running between the wickets and was forced to retire hurt before later departing to the hospital for scans.
The Marygoons’ chase never reached top gear as Brad Senior (21) and skipper Kallon Rigby (23) were two of only three batsmen to reach double figures.
The Panthers won the toss for the final and elected to bat, opening up with Hamilton and Weeraratne against Tyrrell and the spin of Jason Williams.
Both were removed in quick succession before Meadows skipper Kyle Salerno (14) and Brad Miles (40) set about resurrecting the innings.
But a series of dismissals through the middle order to expansive shots meant the Panthers could only muster 8/101 from their 20 overs. Impressively from the perspective of the Lions’ attack, the Panthers could only score 3/20 from their final five overs. The home side was particularly impressive in restricting the flow of boundaries as Williams finished with the figures of 2/19, Dan Vela snared 2/17, and
Dale Tormey took 3/13 in an eventual man of the match performance.
Tormey made a quick start with the willow in the Lions’ chase but holed out to Jason Dodd off Weeraratne for 13 at 1/16.
Ben Maroney (17) and Zac Chaplin (13) then continued to rotate the strike in an important 32-run stand before they both fell in quick succession at 2/48 and 3/52.
But from 3/74 after 14 overs – and looking comfortable in the chase – a nervous energy came over the crowd as the Meadows applied the clamps, including the key wicket of big-hitting danger man Sean Gramc for 28.
At 6/98 with an over remaining, the Lions still needed four off the last. Dan Vela hit the winning runs with three balls to spare.
Tormey’s performance earned him player of the game honours, while Pakenham (2017 and 2019) joined Cardinia (2007 to 2010, 2012, 2013) and Koooweerup (2011, 2014, and 2015) as multiple winners of the Kookaburra Cup. They’ll now advance to play as part of next year’s Regional Big Bash.