Sunbury Cricket Club turns corner in time for finals

Sunbury batsman Craig Ballinger. (Damjan Janevski)

By Oliver Lees

A surge of form in the new year has helped keep Sunbury Cricket Club’s finals hopes alive in division 3 of the Victorian Turf Cricket Association.

Sunbury was struggling to get wins on the board in 2021, as it ended the year with one win, one draw and four losses.

After eight matches, Sunbury sat in seventh spot, two wins out of finals.

But in the first two rounds after the summer break the club was able to find its groove with back-to-back wins.

On January 15, Sunbury recorded its most convincing win to date.

Sunbury rolled Laverton 10/35 in just 20 overs.

Brad Hunter made quick work of the Laverton attack, taking 5/12 off six overs.

Jason McGowan also helped to maintain the pressure with figures of 3/14, as Laverton crumbled with seven of its batsmen facing less than 10 deliveries.

Jason McGann made quick work of chasing down the measly total, as he raced to 27 off 17 and Sunbury won the match for the loss of one wicket.

Club president Brendan Doyle said he was glad to see the team’s hard work paying off.

“We’ve been really pleased with the progress, we were looking at hwo we can improve things and decided to be a little more aggressive in our batting line up,” he said.

“It’s great to see Brad [Hunter] doing well, he’s one of the elder statesmen, not only of the club, but the league.

“It certainly helps when you’ve got [Jason] McGann and [Jason] McGowan on the other end keeping things tight and attacking.”

Doyle said an injection of youth in the team had also allowed them to be aggressive and enthusiastic in the field.

The introduction of fresh players in the side came as the club dealt with player shortages.

Across the VTCA and many other community sporting associations, clubs have been struggling to field times due to the high number of players on holiday or in isolation due to COVID-19 protocol.

As the Gisborne and District Cricket Association cancelled matches for two weeks due to the issue, Sunbury was able to poach some players to fill its third and fourth senior teams.

Despite the challenging circumstances, Doyle said the change fact invigorated the side, rather than cripple it.

“I think part of the success has been having people missing, it’s very exciting to be able to reward some players by elevating them,” he said.

“There’s no use going in with the same mix if it’s not working. We made some changes and others were brought on by unavailability, so that forced us to look outside the square, and find some answers.

“We’ve turned the corner and we feel that finals are not out of the picture.”