Heartbreaking end to country week

COLAC District’s representative cricketers must wait 12 months for redemption after suffering a heartbreaking end to Melbourne Country Week.

Rival Yarra Valley will move up to Division Two after prevailing in a thrilling run chase in the Division Three final at Balwyn.

The Valley boys won by one wicket, eclipsing Colac’s 7-154 nine wickets down, but not before drama in the final overs as the final went down to the wire.

Yarra Valley had one wicket in hand when it survived a tight LBW shout off Jeff Percy, a decision which raised the ire of Colac captain Leighton Hart.

But the most damaging moment came when David Jackson dropped a catch at mid on off Mark Kent when Colac led by one run.

The heartbreaking defeat came at the same time as neighbouring association South West won Division Two, just two suburbs across at Camberwell.

Hart, who retired from representative duties after the final, said frustration and disappointment lingered through the players as they returned home.

“The boys were really disappointed but it’s fuelled them on,” he said.

“Now having South West in Provincial and us still in Division Three, I think our boys will be a bit hungry because we are up to that standard.

“There is potential there, it’s just getting a few of us old blokes out of there and young blokes taking over. That’s what’s got to happen.

“We need a young leader who says ‘I want to take this on for the next five or so years and have the goal of winning Division Three and going up to Division Two and seeing what happens from there.”

Yarra Valley won the toss and sent Colac in after a venue change forced the final to become a 42-over-a-side affair.

Sam Cardinal made 35 opening the batting and Nathan McNamara chipped in with 19, before Stewart Sutherland capped off his player-of-the-week status with an unbeaten 41.

The total was 26 short of the 180 Hart craved, but looked enough when Percy, 4-41, and Dale Boyd, 3-21, made inroads with the ball.

From 1-51, Yarra Valley lost 8-82, but scraped over the line courtesy of tailender Travis Nightingale, 31 not out, and Ishara Amerasinghe, six not out.

Ironically, Amerasinghe, a former Sri Lankan Test paceman, destroyed Colac with the ball at MCW last year as Colac failed to make the final.

His exploits with the bat, while modest, were enough to get Yarra Valley over the line again this year.

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