Johannesburg, Saturday October 26th. A day that 60 Indoor Cricketers from right across Australia will never forget.
This was the day that five Australian Indoor Cricket teams did battle for World Masters Supremacy. Grandstands were erected, TV Crews were assembled and crowds came in their masses all for a thrilling conclusion to a weeks long work for these five Australian teams.
Australia vs New Zealand - Over 45 Mens Grand Final
The day started with the Over 45 Mens Division kicking off a day filled with tight finals and high emotions. The Australian side took the court to face arch enemy New Zealand.
The Kiwi side won the toss and elected to bat and immediately got off to a good start scoring 26 for the first pair. Some very disciplined bowling and fielding saw the Aussies claw back the momentum an restrict the second skin to 16.
John Short was inspirational with his dangerous left-arm inswing bowling causing many issues for the Kiwi batsmen, and Indoor Cricket Legend Andy Walton showing why he is so highly regarded as he produced opportunity after opportunity seemingly from nowhere in the field.
The third pair for New Zealand only managed the solitary run as the Aussies continued to turn up the pressure and begin to really assert themselves on the game.
During the 13th over of the first innings Victorian Tony Plose flung himself into the side net to save three runs and demolished the commentators table that had been set up beside the court in the process.
The final New Zealand pair only managed to add a further 18 runs, taking the Kiwi's grand total to 61.
Andy Walton and Rob McInnes kicked off the Aussie Innings scoring 17 under some extreme pressure as the New Zealand bowlers set about executing their bowling plans and making Australia have to work extra hard to score off every single ball.
John Short and Mark Butler were the next Australians to stride to the crease and again found themselves having to work harder than they've had to all week.
As is so often the case with the Aussie Indoor Cricket teams, the pair managed to go back to basics making an invaluable 28 runs to lay the foundations for the third pair (Chris Henry and Ted Hempstead) to build on.
Hempstead and Henry were in scintillating form as they produced some glorious Indoor Cricket shots to carry the Australian score past the New Zealand overall total in the tenth over before losing three wickets in the 11th and 12th overs and finishing up with 9 for the skin.
Tony Plose and Captain Barry Morrison were charged with bringing the Australian run chase to a close and their experience was more than called upon as they faced some tight bowling to bring the game to a thirlling close with the total at 76 winning by 15 runs.
Australian Over 45 Mens coach Peter Neville commented after the game, "It has been a privilege to coach and get to know these players, and this victory is a reward for all their hard work on and off the court, not only here in South Africa, but also in the five months leading up to this World Series.
This is the best group of blokes I have had the pleasure of coaching."
Australia vs South Africa - Over 40 Mens Grand Final
The second round of the day saw two Australian sides in action with the Over 40 Mens and Over 30 Ladies.
The Over 40 Mens team won the toss, and without hesitation immediately opted to bat first sending in Roo Clayden and Leigh Holt to try and put some scoreboard pressure on the South African players.
Holt and Clayden had been in great form throughout the week and the Australian coach Rod Jenkins knew the importance of a good start, and good start they got.
Scoring almost at will, Clayden and Holt managed to tick the score along to 31 after four overs. Australia's second pair of Pitt and Wildman found themselves in quite a few mix ups and as a result were left reeling at eight runs for the second skin.
Captain and vice captain Rudrum and Boyle were the third Aussie pair to bat in what was fast becoming a very tense grand final with an extremely loud home crowd.
Unfortunately the duo were unable to apply scoreboard pressure to the South African side and quickly found themselves at negative nine after nine overs. Constant mix-ups seemed to be setting in and the momentum by this stage was definitely with the home side.
The South Africans looked unlikely to miss any opportunities in the field at all, and pounced on any run out opportunities and catches that presented themselves.
Some solid batting by Pat Boyle began to wrest back control of the innings in the 10th over. The never say die attitude of the home side saw them take a couple more wickets and left Australia's third pair with a total of nine runs and lifting the Australian score to 48 runs after 12 overs.
All the work was to be made by the Australian side as they stared down the barrel of a World Cup defeat, becoming only the second side that does not currently hold the title in its division.
Jamie Evans and Marty "Mullet" Bennet began to hit some boundaries and shift the moment back to the Aussies. It soon became clear that the pressure was firmly back on the South Africans shoulders, when they became slightly erratic in their bowling in the 14th over.
At the start of the 15th over the Australians were on 69 and found themselves in a similar position to that of the previous day when they managed to defend 86 against the same team.
Evans and Bennet suddenly become the Australian batting heroes scoring 53 off the final over and in doing so, ensured the Australian side would carry the momentum in to the second half of the game.
The South Africans were set the task of trying to chase down 102 and had all the work ahead of them against a very disciplined and well drilled Australian Over 45's side who had been well coached by Rod Jenkins.
Marty Bennet began the innings with the new ball and began to showcase some fine swing bowling skills that immediately put the home side on the back foot.
By the end of the first pair, the Australians were in a commanding position and looked the dominant side as the South Africans slumped to negative seven at the conclusion of the first pair.
Things didnt get much better for the home side in the second and third pairs as they made 14 and 20 respectively, leaving the final pair needing 70 runs for victory.
The added scoreboard pressure forced some big shots from the final South African pair that resulted in some early wickets. The Australians ran out eventual winners in what, was at times, an enthralling contest by 29 runs.
At the conclusion of the game, Australian Physiotherapist Andrew Boyle said, "It is fantastic to see the teams earn this prize. The hard work they've put in off the court has been long and I'm sure it has played a part in today's results."
Australia vs South Africa - Over 30 Womens Grand Final
The Aussie duo of Savage and Carson got Australia off to a flyer with 17 off the first over through aggressive but sensible batting.
A quick single attempt in the third over however saw the Aussies lose their first wicket when Savage was stranded short and the score returning temporarily back to 17 again.
The left and right hand combination consistently caused grief for the Locals and the high quality batting took the score to a healthy 40 - just what the Aussies were looking for at the start. Dalby and Lee becoming the new batters at the crease for the second pairing.
A few dot balls to start the second pairing was complimented by solid first over of nine to reach 49 off five. A slow but steady approach by Daly and Lee saw another nine off the next before a great flick return from Kotze sees Dalby fail to make her ground and the score back to 53.
The high quality pairing did not panic at any stage of their 4 overs, with both equal contributors to the scoring helping Australia to reach a commanding total of 74 at the halfway mark of the innings.
Polkinghorne and Cooper created a little bit of panic in the fielding team with the first overthrow in the innings helping themselves to nine off the first and 11 off the second.
Using her feet well early in the 11th over, Polkinghorne struck a beautiful drive to pick up a simple four despite the high quality bowling of Brink.
A second straight drive attempt in the over however was not so lucky and the quick run attempt was well fielded by the receiver creating a run out with Polkinghorne well short.
Despite the loss of another wicket in the 12th, the score was still a very healthy 101 leading in to the last pairing for the Aussie women. Cooper being especially consistent with her 17 runs.
Pendreigh and Mckenzie the final pairing for the Aussies and they continued the theme of ultra consistency despite a little bit of luck with a relatively simple dropped catch by Du Plessis in the 14th.
A quality drive by Pendreigh bringing up five at the end of the 14th and Pendreigh had raced to 15 with the score at a very healthy 124.
The flurry of quick runs started to take their toll on the South Africans and even McKenzie who was battling a leg injury.
Despite McKenzie's discomfort, the Aussie pair put on 46 to take the total score to what would seem like a comfortable winning score of 147. A great consistent team effort by the Aussies with all pairings contributing a strong partnership to the total.
Opening bowler Polkinghorne started with two dot balls which set the scene for a solid first over that included a thin edge that flew past the waiting gloves of Carson.
Only seven off the first over. Savage claimed the first wicket in the second with a simple catch to Polkinghorne to a lofted drive off the top net.
Next ball, a great save by Cooper created a smart run out at the keepers end and then a great look away flick by Pendreigh at the bowlers end saw the score drop back in to minus territory.
A tremendous running catch along the back net by Savage turned a certain seven runs into another -5 and a caught behind next ball and suddenly the locals were back to -11.
Dalby was creating a great deal of doubt for the South African openers with a world class over. A further run out and the score after three overs was back to -14 as the Aussies look to take control early.
The Aussies ending up taking the first skin by a whopping 50 runs (40 to -10) after another solid team effort in the fourth.
A fighting 12 by the South African pair of Cornelius and Harding saw the locals back in to positive territory at two after their first over, however more mistakes from the locals and the score was back to -3.
The seventh over saw the first seven of the match with a solid hit from Cornelius, but as has been the case all game as soon as the locals get on a role, the Aussies step it up and two run outs has the score back to -2. A good fight back from Copper after the first went for seven, with only two conceded off the over.
The eighth saw the return of Dalby who continued her great match with a delivery through the gate of Cornelius to send the bails flying. A total of four wickets and -10 was the total result for both of Dalby's overs. A great effort by the Queenslander.
At the halfway mark of the innings the Aussies had restricted their opponents to -1.
New pairing for South Africa Kolia and Brink started solidly with 13 off the first two overs and continued to fight hard for their country in their attempts to win the skin, however they just struggled to make enough inroads with the team pressure evident across the court and fell short with 17 to the Aussies thirrd pairing of 27.
The pressure evident with the locals failed to run on the third ball and were run out without attempting a run in the 12th. Despite this Kolia contributed a well compiled 25 for the home side.
Carson got in the action with a great Yorker rattling the stump and two run outs in the next two balls, including a brilliant reflex tap from Dalby, saw the score back to just over where it started the innings.
The final South African pairing of Du Plessis and Neto can hold their head high with a very well compiled and sometimes aggressive 32.
Final scores saw the Aussie girls win by exactly 100 - 147 to 47.
The match was played in a great spirit with the teams obvious respect for the talents of the opponents carrying through the entire match.
Credit must go to the South African team for their commitment and determination right to the end despite being overwhelmed by a clearly better side on the day and throughout the week. The Australian team are the deserved champions yet again.
Australia vs South Africa - Over 35 Mens Grand Final
The fourth game the Aussie team was involved in saw the Men's Over 35 side take on the South African team with team manager Cameron Walter winning his third toss of the week and electing to bat first.
Grant Suthers and Kerry Stewart were sent out to face the might of the South African bowling and playing some really positive Indoor Cricket shots to take the score to 29 overs.
Joel Boucher and Western Australian Scott Rainbow came in the as the second pair and began to score two's and continually turn the strike over despite losing an early wicket to a run out, rocketing the score rather quickly to 35 for the skin and 55 after eight overs.
Captain Tode Biracoski and Matt Jenkins came in as the third pair and also began playing with relative freedom but some miscommunication between the pair meant that they lost wickets at regular intervals, poor running between the wickets led to most of the dismissals, with the pair ending up on five runs off their four overs.
Mark Hines and Glynn Knox entered the arena needing to pushing the score past 100 to give the home side something to think about, adding to the pressure for the Aussies was the fact that to date, they were the only Australian team to have dropped a game so far, and it just so happened to be against the South Africans.
Mark Hines looked like a man on a mission as he set about placing the ball to the top of net and yelled his calls at the top of his lungs.
At the completion of the 16th over, the Australians had managed a very strong 114 runs.
Mark Hines also took the new ball with immediate effect - creating a run out opportunity from only his second delivery, however at the conclusion of the second over the South Africans were going steadily at 24 and by the end of the fourth over the home team had reached 36.
Australian Coach Brenton Brien had a couple of things to worry about at this point in time. By this stage, things had gone from bad to worse for the Aussies, as the South African's second pair piled on a further 28 from their four overs.
With four overs left in the game, South Africa required 26 runs to win, with the outlook looking bleak for the Aussies. They couldn't seem to buy a wicket, due to some rather smart batting from the home team.
Knox was the man to bowl the first over of the skin, bowling very tightly and forcing an early run out with some disciplined line and length bowling in a pressure cooker environment.
By this stage the crowd was right behind the home team, and the atmosphere was electric. Knox's over went for four overall. The equation was now 22 off three overs.
Captain Biracoski was the next man to bowl, his over costing six runs with the equation now 16 required off two. Matt Jenkins was brought into the attack to take some vital wickets, but was unable to do so instead leaking 10 runs to the delight of the now very vocal crowd.
Scott Rainbow was the man for Australia, if they were to win it all rested with him. Six runs to win off the last over for the home side, the first two balls costing four runs, the third ball was caught and bowled.
Seven runs off five balls now. The fourth ball went for two runs and the fifth ball was sent to the third umpire for a catch review.
Five runs off three balls. The sixth ball went for four and the seventh ball went for two. The Aussies now needed something special from Rainbow off the last delivery to win, but the ball just missed the fielder on the leg side.
South Africa had won the game.
Australia vs New Zealand - Over 30 Mens Grand Final
The final game of the day was a match between two Indoor Cricket heavyweights in Australiia and New Zealand.
After winning the toss the Aussie team stood and stared down their opponents as they attempted to unsettle the teams nerves with a rendition of the "Haka".
Matt Fitt and Michael Sullivan opened up the Aussie innings and got off to a brilliant start scoring 12 from the first over and continued to bat with the confidence they'd both shown throughout the week so far.
Fitt and Sullivan laid a very solid platform, scoring 30 from their four overs.
Rodney Bird and David Dervan continued the Victorian themed start to the Australian innings coming in as the second pair of the Australian Innings, showing some solid communication and running between the wickets.
Both players looked to be playing their role, and were both doing it with a level head. There were no rash shots as the partnership blossomed to 25 from the four overs.
Paul Bathman and Shawn Thomas were the third pair for the Australians, and the concentration levels shown by both players were exceptional as they battled disciplined line and length bowling to noodle out nine runs.
The final pair of skipper Brett Collison and Marty Baker were pushed to the limits but due to some late innings hitting from Baker and Collison they managed to claw themselves to 25, taking the Aussie total to 89 and helped provide the momentum going into the bowling innings.
Collison, Baker, Dervan and Thomas bowled the first four overs to great effect for the Aussies restriciting New Zealand to 16 from their four overs.
The third and fourth and pairs managed to claw their back into the game leaving the fourth pair which included former Kiwi outdoor Test bowler Iain O'Brien with 11 runs to get.
The final four overs was some of the tightest cricket that has been seen and the Kiwis managed to pass the figure with 3 balls to go and hold on for a memorable victory.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 27 October, 2013 3:15PM AEST