By Tara Murray
Gisborne claimed its second Central Highlands’ Cricket Willow T20 premiership on Monday.
It was a combination of youth and experience that got the job done for the Dragons against Muckleford in the regional final in a convincing performance.
Neither team was at full strength, with the Dragons making the most of the opportunity to give some of the younger players a go.
Dragons coach Gavin Mackay said being a long weekend, there was always going to be some players missing.
“It was due to a combination of injuries and players being away with the long weekend, so it was a good opportunity to play the younger players,” he said.
“Jarryd [Vernon] is 25 and then we had four guys 33 or over and we then had seven kids 18 or younger.
“Maybe one out of those seven had previously played in some sort of senior final. Some have played in our seconds most of the season, they had a bowl and played well [on Monday].”
Mackay said they bowled really well and backed it up in the field to set the game up.
Gisborne bowled Muckleford out for 91.
Mick Allen opened the bowling and took 3-8 off his four overs. It came two days after he made a career high 183 with the bat.
Youngster Harry Thomas made the most of his opportunities, taking 3-8 off three overs. Mackay said with a couple of bowlers out this week, Thomas would likely play in their top side in the Gisborne and District Cricket Association.
Mackay said while they could’ve given a couple of their younger guys a go with the bat up the top, they decided to stick with the experienced guys to get them over the line.
The Dragons made the runs in the 16th over, finishing 2-95.
Skipper Jarryd Vernon, who top scored in their semi final win, was again the leading scorer, with 53 not out.
The win also secures Gisborne a spot in the Cricket Victoria Regional Big Bash finals later this year. Last time they played in that competition they lost in the semi finals, a game away from playing on the MCG.
The Dragons will turn their focus back to the Gisborne and District Cricket Association McIntyre Cup.
Their top side is sitting undefeated and their second XI is sitting third.
Mackay said the second side had hit some really good form, with a mix of experienced and younger players.
For the first XI, Mackay said getting consistency in the line up in the last few games would be ideal.
“We’ve had at least two changes every week,” he said.
“We’ve got another couple out this week. We might have everyone ready for the semi final.
“We have though had 10 guys under 20 play in the first XI this year, which is good for the future of the club.”
Meanwhile in the inaugural women’s Cricket Willow match, Ballarat Women’s proved no match for Sunbury.
Sunbury was bowled out for 37, with Ballarat making the runs easily, finishing 1-39.