As the two McDonald’s ACT Premier Cricket heavyweights they are, Tuggeranong and Weston Creek Molonglo are set to exchange blows in pursuit of the prized Douglas Cup grand final title at Chisolm No 1 Oval this weekend. The two competition juggernauts stand as the only undefeated sides in the Douglas Cup format this season, and are set to lock horns in a grand final for the third time this season. Adding extra spice to the recipe is that Tuggeranong and Creek are locked at one apiece in grand final wins this season, Creek having clinched victory in the Konica Minolta decider and Tuggeranong in the Gallop Cup big dance. This three-day clash bears all the hallmarks of a blockbuster.
Why Tuggeranong can win
Despite being steamrolled by Creek in a demoralising eight-wicket loss in the second round of the Gallop Cup, Tuggeranong rose to the occasion to win the one-day decider by 56 runs. Creek in fact chased the runs in its Round 2 win without captain John Rogers and fellow middle-order batting giant Mark Bennett having to walk to the crease. Nor did the competition’s best batsman, Big Bash League star Jono Dean, feature in the clash. For the Vikings to then propel to victory in such convincing fashion in the decider, just under two months later, shows the pressure cooker of a final is far from too hot for Tuggeranong.
Captain Shane Devoy echoed those sentiments, praising his side’s ability to not just reach grand finals but put its best foot forward.
“It’s been a fantastic season so far,” Devoy said.
“To make three grand finals is something that every club aims for at the start of the year and we’ve seen a number of players show comfort and perform on the big stage. We’ve beaten them before and hopefully we can do it again this weekend.”
Left-hander Justin Haywood was the best of Tuggeranong’s performers in the Gallop Cup grand final, plundering 108 at the top of the order to trigger his side’s hefty innings total of 316 runs.
Why Creek can win
India captain Virat Kohli threw a jibe at the Australians after the second Test in Bengaluru, saying that everyone was talking about the head of the snake but that the snake did pretty well itself. Such is the case with Creek’s middle order, three of whom score runs for fun. Opposition sides rarely see the back of snakehead Jono Dean early, and when they do they are greeted by by one of Rogers or Bennett, either of whom are ready to let loose with serious sting.
Tuggeranong’s skipper is well aware of Creek’s potency with the blade.
“Jono’s a fantastic player and he’s shown that over a long period of time, but he can’t be the sole focus for any side playing Weston Creek,” Devoy said.
“They have a number of match winners, so do we, and I firmly believe the team with the greatest number of contributors over the weekend will come out on top.”
To put the quality of the side’s middle order into perspective, this season’s three highest batting averages across the Gallop and Douglas Cup formats belong to Creek’s Dean (106.67), Bennett (77.25) and Rogers (74.10). No batsman has notched more centuries than any of these three this summer either, all of whom have struck a trio of tons.
Rogers said that whether Creek is in the field or at the crease, the focus will be on pressure.
“Our whole focus is based on pressure. We like to build pressure with the ball as much as we can, and with the bat we like to release pressure.”
Who to keep an eye on
One need only wind the clock back to the weekend to see that Tuggeranong’s Devoy and Creek’s Dean are two players worth keeping an eye on in the grand final. Devoy’s Chisholm No 1 Oval heroics first came in the form of a seven-wicket haul in Western District-UC’s first innings. As the visitors zeroed in on a first-innings lead, Tuggeranong was in need of a spell that would turn the match on its head. The skipper offered just that, bringing himself on to bowl the beguiling left-arm orthodox that’s seen him bag the most wickets across the Gallop and Douglas Cup formats combined this season, with 45 at 14.87. As Tuggeranong’s semi-final neared stumps on the final day, the iCollege ACT Comet all-rounder also pummelled an unbeaten 62.
Asked how important it will be to limit Devoy’s impact on the game, Creek’s captain said it will be “crucial”.
“It will be massive,” Rogers said.
“He has probably had one of the best all-round seasons Canberra has probably seen in recent times. It will be tough to contain him, but it will also be crucial.”
Fifteen kilometres away, Dean played a major hand in Creek overpowering Ginninderra at Stirling Oval. With his side in pursuit of 238 to win, the 32-year-old hammered an unbeaten 124 in a knock streaked with 13 fours and four maximums.
Last time they met
The last time Tuggeranong and Creek met in a Douglas Cup match was in December, a clash that fizzled to a draw.
Batting first, Creek posted 6/354 (declared) in an innings in which Rogers made 160. Tuggeranong reached 9/314 in reply, as Devoy notched 105 and second-drop Michael Barrington-Smith compiled a patient 96. Meanwhile, Creek’s Harry Medhurst snared 7-55 to register the best innings figures in the competition this season.
Grand final details:
Tuggeranong versus Weston Creek Molonglo
Chisholm No 1 Oval
Friday March 17, Saturday 18, Sunday 19
Written by Cricket ACT Media Intern, Zach Gates. The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket ACT.