Cricket: Old Boys defend one-day title with mauling of Wests

BRUTE FORCE: Old Boys No.4 Aaron Hazlewood blasts away.
BRUTE FORCE: Old Boys No.4 Aaron Hazlewood blasts away.

Aaron Hazlewood’s season of destruction reached a new ferocity when he sent West Tamworth fielders to the pickets at No.1 Oval while smashing a 62-ball 125 in the one-day final on Friday night – thus securing Old Boys consecutive 40-over titles.

Towards the end of his murderous rampage he was literally trying to hit every ball over the fence, several times succeeding, in an innings bejewelled with eight sixes and 12 boundaries.

Teenage Wests quick Adam McGuirk, a member of Central North’s under-16 Bradman Cup side, suffered the worst mauling, going for 32 runs in his sole over – four sixes (three consecutively) and two fours.

BOUNDARY DRUNK: Hazlewood belts another one to the fence.

BOUNDARY DRUNK: Hazlewood belts another one to the fence.

“I hope you didn’t get my over,”  McGuirk said to The Northern Daily Leader photographer after Old Boys finished on 8-268.

They then dismissed Wests for 118 in 31 overs, with quicks Troy Sands and James Austin both claiming three wickets.

You would have to think Wests were psychologically shot by Hazlewood.

BIG UNIT: Former Raiders enforcer Tom Learoyd-Lahrs plays in his debut first-grade final. He finished with 0-32 off three overs.

BIG UNIT: Former Raiders enforcer Tom Learoyd-Lahrs plays in his debut first-grade final. He finished with 0-32 off three overs.

While he was batting, a Wests player called him an animal. Or was it psycho?

Fittingly, the left-hander was stumped by Wests skipper David Mudaliar while advancing down the wicket to try and hit the ball into Tamworth Swimming Pool. His teammates were understandably warm with their applause. As they were when he blasted a 68-ball 125 against Wests at Riverside 1 in November.

The 28-year-old  allrounder, older brother of Test quick Josh, is in the midst of a truncated season to savour, scoring 404 runs in five first-grade innings at an average of 101.

In the final, he came to the crease with Old Boys at 2-76 after losing openers Mitchell Swain (0) and Simon Norvill (52).

Abel Carney (30), skipper Ben Middlebrook (11), Adam Lole (four) and Jack Richards (17) then played support roles to Hazlewood’s star turn.

Brock Ridgewell (3-28 off eight overs) was Wests’ best bowler, while Dan Collinson claimed 2-37.

Old Boys' innings comes to a close.

Hazlewood, a Werris Creek coal miner, said: “I am really happy. I stick to the way I play my game and it seems to be coming off at the minute.

“I play my game, which is aggressive. I like to go after it and try to put pressure back on the bowler and also the fielding side. You need a bit of luck when you play that way, which I got yesterday [Friday]. I think I was dropped once.”

He added: “It was a tricky wicket early. There was plenty in it early. It was green and slightly soft and very slow … But once you got used to it and got yourself in, it obviously became a lot easier.”

Wests begin the run chase.

Old Boys also won the Twenty20 final this season and lead the competition in pursuit of a fifth straight premiership, with three two-day rounds remaining before the semi-finals.

Work commitments has prevented Hazlewood playing the opening day of Old Boys’ clash against North Tamworth at No.1 Oval on Saturday.

He said: “Obviously I’d like to play every week but work doesn’t allow that. Hopefully the boys can back up last night’s [Friday] performance in this game against Norths and go a long way towards cementing the minor premiership and getting us a major semi and get a bit of momentum heading into the finals.

“We seem to be batting well, bowling well. Everyone is chipping in. We’re performing well as a unit.”