They say catches win matches, and Oscar King did precisely that for the Gunnedah Second XI on Sunday.
In the aftermath of his sides 26 run final round Connolly Cup win over Tamworth Blue, which secured Gunnedah their first home semi-final for around a decade, skipper Blake Small pinpointed King’s catch to dismiss Lachie Barton as a decisive moment.
Probably the catch of the season, King dove to his right at short mid-wicket one-handed.
“That changed the whole game,” Small said.
“He didn’t take that they won it basically.”
Barton was batting very well and looking like he was going to get Tamworth home as they chased Gunnedah’s 135.
Looking for something different to try and break the partnership between Barton (31) and Liam Rodgers (13) that threatened to derail Gunnedah’s good early work, Small traded the gloves and brought himself on.
It did the trick with Small (2-9) removing Barton in his third over.
He and Harris (3-11) wrapped things up pretty quickly after that with Tamworth losing their last five wickets for just 17 runs to be all out for 109.
Understandably hoping for more than 135, Small was confident they had the bowling attack to defend that.
“We had to bowl well and take our catches,” he said.
Darrin Cameron (3-23) particularly proved tricky early and provided the initial breakthrough, picking up Blues skipper Chris Paterson in the fifth over.
He almost had opening partner Dan Whale not long after but the catch was fumbled in the slips.
Cameron eventually got his man. It sparked a brief collapse with Tamworth losing 3-5 to be looking shaky at 5-45.
Well on top, Small said they fell into the trap of thinking they “had it in the bag” and dropped off in that middle period. Consequently they lost the momentum but fortunately they were able to wrestle it back.
Earlier Jake Vigor followed up his unbeaten 43 for Albion on Saturday with 32 at the top of the order.
He proved a valuable inclusion after being dropped from the First XI and helped cushion the blow a bit of losing Ryan Cooper and Kaleb McIlveen.
“He’s a very attacking opener so he goes hard at them, and if they don’t bowl well he puts the bad ball away,” Small said.
Shane Riordan (23) and Harris (16) also provided valuable contributions.
Barton finished as Tamworth’s top-scorer with 31 after Whale had made 22, but they were the only two to make over 20.
“It wasn’t all that good a batting performance,” Paterson said.
“We just kept losing wickets. No-one really got going at all.”
That was for him the most disappointing part.
“We were probably stronger batting, but that didn’t show,” he said.
“We had Noah Pitt batting at nine and he got 94 yesterday (Saturday).”
He wasn’t able to replicate that form but did shine with the ball, taking 4-15 and cleaning up the tail after Aaron Madirazza (3-31) did the damage at the top of the order.
“Noah was very good,” Paterson said.
“The two spinners (Madirazza and Lachie Cooke) did their job.”
Cooke conceded just 13 runs off his 10 overs and was unlucky not to snare more
He could have got five or six easily, Paterson said.
“He just missed the stumps several times and had a couple off catches dropped off him,” he said.