East Sunbury claim premiership

East Sunbury’s Lance Watts. (Shawn Smits) 202098_01

Tara Murray

There’s mixed emotions for East Sunbury after being declared the premiers of the Gisborne and District Cricket Association Johnstone Shield.

The Thunder was due to face Bacchus Marsh in the grand final in a two-day match at the weekend, but the game was called off due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

The association decided to cancel all grand finals last Monday, following advice from both Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria.

The highest ranked team in each grand final has been declared premiers.

In this case, East Sunbury was the minor premier.

Thunder skipper Lance Watts said hearing they had been declared premiers was ‘’different’’.

“It’s definitely not the way you want to get it,” he said.

“It is what it is and it’s not our decision.

“We were really happy to play and definitely wanted to win it the right way. We wanted to put on a good show and win it off our own bat.”

Watts said the playing group caught up on Monday night following the announcement.

He said that the group was happy to have got the premiership, but there was still feeling hollow about it.

“We put the hard work in throughout the season and it’s the reward for our work,” he said.

“We feel for Bacchus Marsh as a club, we would have liked to have played them.”

The premiership is the club’s first top side premiership since it won the G-grade premiership in 2009-10, it’s first season.

In usual circumstances the premier of the Johnstone Shield competition, is promoted to the top grade, the McIntyre Cup.

GDCA president Rob McIntyre said they would discuss promotion and relegation at the next board meeting, which is scheduled to go ahead in April.

Watts said the prospect of the club having a team in the McIntyre Cup for the first time was exciting.

“That’s the reason why I came across,” he said. “To get them into the McIntyre Cup.

“It’s come earlier than I expected and it was always a work in progress.

“I didn’t expect one this year. The development of the club has been pretty big this year.”

Meanwhile, Rupertswood captain-coach Andrew Pizaro has been named the Johnstone Shield grade champion.

Pizaro also took out the bowling award, while Sunbury Kangaroos’ Corey Woolley claimed the batting award.