Ice cold Gulbis leads Blues to Premier title
Melbourne-based Premier Cricket side win inaugural Fox Cricket National T20 championships in Adelaide
Andrew Ramsey in Adelaide
6 March 2019, 07:28 PM AEST
A nerveless final over from Carlton skipper Evan Gulbis completed a near flawless campaign that lifted his team to the inaugural Fox Cricket National T20 championships staged in Adelaide.
Gulbis, the Melbourne Stars allrounder, needed to call on his vast experience in the KFC Big Bash League when he took the 20th over of this evening's final with University of Queensland needing 11 runs to win with three wickets in hand.
They had appeared bound for victory until the last ball of the previous over when University captain Dom Michael, a former teammate of Gulbis's for Tasmania, was dismissed for 75 (from 54 balls) by Carlton's player of the final, seamer Aaron Smillie (4-28).
Gulbis then landed a series of pin-point yorkers as the University batters struggled to pierce the in-field, ultimately finishing two runs short of their victory target.
"What Smiles (Smillie) did the over before was fantastic, and gave me enough runs on the board to play with," Gulbis told cricket.com.au after accepting the trophy that had been sought by 100 clubs in all state and territories since last year.
"The boys have played some really good cricket over the journey, and deserved the result they got today."
Not only had Carlton emerged undefeated from the two-day tournament staged at Adelaide's Karen Rolton Oval and surrounding grounds, they had lost just one match in the preceding qualifying event among Melbourne's Premier Cricket teams.
They had also accounted for University of Queensland a day prior to today's play-off, when Carlton chased down their rivals' 9-128 with seven wickets and more than three overs to spare.
As such, they entered the final on a cool, blustery Adelaide afternoon as warm favourites.
However, the top-order firepower that had proved their trump-card leading into the final did not get going in the final, as they lost 5-33 after a bright start before a sixth-wicket stand of 58 between Donovan Pell (43) and Lachie McKenna (28) lifted them to 8-154 from 20 overs.
University then launched a savage opening salvo, as opener Jack Carty belted 17 from Smillie's opening over before being adjudged lbw for 24 (from 12 balls) in the seamer's second.
Gulbis, who was overlooked for the Stars' BBL final loss to Melbourne rivals Renegades last month, had earlier in the day powered his team into the final with a stunning, unbeaten 107 from 56 balls faced in the morning's semi-final against Sydney club, Sutherland.
On the strength of Gulbis's onslaught, Carlton posted 3-219 from their 19-over innings that was foreshortened by a passing rain shower.
Sutherland struggled from the moment they lost openers Jarryd Biviano and Peter Saroukos in quick succession, and finished 40 runs short thereby denying their coach – and former Australia Test captain Steve Smith – a shot at his first senior trophy in a mentor's role.
The morning's other semi-final, which was also curtailed by the rain, was a far tighter affair after Western Australia's Melville club posted a hard-fought 5-127 from 18.2 overs thanks largely to former Sheffield Shield opener Luke Towers' 52 from 40 balls.
Queensland University reached their target, and the trophy game, when keeper Mitchell Fry clubbed a boundary from the penultimate delivery, the foundation for their chase laid by ex-Bulls spin-bowling allrounder, Michael Philipson (49 from 38 balls).
Fry, however, was unable to repeat his final-over heroics later in the afternoon.
Opener Michael Cranmer, from Adelaide's East Torrens club, was named player of the tournament while Fry was honoured as the leading gloveman.