U13 Girls Grand Final v Newcastle

Mollie Dive Grand Final 20/3/22 – Harry Edwards Oval, Newcastle.

Newcastle vs. Manly

Manly won the toss and bowled first.

Newcastle took on Manly after an undefeated season that saw them demolish each team they competed against. This was always going to be a big challenge for Manly. However given Manly’s firepower, close knit unit, blue ribbons in their hair, blue face paint, a beautifully decorated marquee, 3 super coaches and lots of family support, there was an air of optimism.

Newcastle started the first few overs cautiously thanks to some pressure bowling from Ari, who lead her team beautifully with two maidens to open the Mollie Dive final’s proceedings. AK also only going for just two in her first over meant Newcastle were 0-3 off 3 overs.

That is when Newcastle started to up the ante. With runs flowing freely from some impressive Newcastle batting, quick wickets were now needed. The top 6 for Newcastle have scored combined, an incredible 2250 runs for the season (all formats), so more than one wicket was going to be imperative, Manly quickly however needed their first pole.

An astute bowling change led to the incredibly reliable Kiera removing Newcastle’s brutal opener for 20 off 22. When Tate nicely swallowed the catch, there was a sigh of relief from everyone. With this dangerous batter gone, there was a hope their best had been sent on her way. The only problem was that enabled a young cricketer with an enormous future to stride to the crease.

At 1-55, another wicket was needed and two of Manly’s ‘go to’ delivered the much needed break through. Caught Kaya bowled Kiera (again). Is there a more reliable set of hands in world cricket than Kaya’s? I’ll argue all day there is not. Kiera’s wicket taking prowess had her team back in the contest at 2-55.

Now Simon Martin sure knows his cricket. Kaya was also now bowling tight, finals pressure, leg spin bowling and Simon was raving compliments on the sidelines about how well Kaya was bowling. And he was right. The pressure was just starting to mount.

Matilda has said some beautiful things as a young girl, but she said to her dad after the game something to top them all.

“Gees dad, it was seaming out there”. Ha Ha- gold!! Whilst ever 11yo Aussie girls are talking in such terms, cricket is rocking it!

With top of off removed it was now 3-73 and Manly are right in this match.

Learning many things from her wonderful coaches and about the sport this season, Matilda also now learned that that full tosses don’t seam 🙈🙈. Miss Bray was now going nuts and so too was the scoreline. To her credit she batted beautifully, played some really classy drives and it took some clever bowling from Eve to dismiss her whilst in full flight, nicely caught by Sophie. 4-142.

Eve bowled really intelligently at a time when Manly needed to minimise the damage, finishing with 1-19 off her 3 overs.

When that girl again Kiera bowled Newcastle’s number 6, the score was 5-155.

Some of the girls delivered some really impressive figures. 6 overs 0-20 from Ari, 6 overs 0-28 from AK, 4 overs 3-24 from Kiera, 6 overs 0-23 from Kaya and possibly Sophie’s best bowling of the season, she was hooping it, 2 overs 0-2.

Newcastle had scored 5-167 with Miss Bray an awesome 73 off 53.

However a quick outfield plus Manly’s infectious never give up attitude still had them believing they were still in the contest.

Especially with the return of their gun opening bat, Annabelle.

Manly’s innings begun as Newcastle’s gun returned to the crease bowling really quick in swingers which rattled the stumps five times. With figures of 5-2 (on top of her 73 runs) this was a match won singled handed by a super impressive cricketer.

The match was quickly out of reach however Annabelle Croll was not going to throw in the towel or give her wicket up easily. This never, ever give up attitude was leadership at its finest and Raph dug in with her skipper, stoically facing 18 balls and dispatching a beautiful shot to the boundary.

Tate now also decided to fight like a tiger when she was tasked with facing Newcastle’s best bowling. 11yo Tate sure can bowl, that is one thing that has become very apparent during the season. Facing 25 balls in such tough conditions against NSW’s best 13yo cricketers showed everyone she has real substance in her. Substance that clearly could really take Tate to wonderful places on life’s journey.

And just to show Newcastle that Manly girls are never beaten, Sibilla then embraced Annabelle’s tenacity and played some seriously beautiful shots including despatching an impressive boundary. Some of the front foot shots on display suggesting that Sibilla has the makings of an all rounder. Perhaps today unveiling real batting potential, facing 16 balls for 6no.

When Annabelle was bowled for 52 off 80 the Manly fight was over at 82. Annabelle had played some serious cricket shots against some of the best u13’s bowlers in the state, probably in fact in Australia. This is a girl who has as big a future in cricket as anyone we have seen this season in the Mollie Dive competition. Ari and Annabelle lead their teams proudly and as their performances in the semi and finals demonstrated, they showed their team mates how to perform when the pressure is on.

The support on the sideline by the girls all throughout the innings was arguably one of the highlights of the final. That showed a team at play together. It showed unselfishness and it showed a team that supports each other right until the last ball is bowled, regardless of the state of the match. A credit to you Manly and a credit to you Ross, Dave, Alan and Sam.

Somethings in life you never get to experience again and it is kind of sad that this group plus a wonderful parent group won’t play u13’s cricket together again.

However one senses that there are going to be many more happy times together on the cricket field, wherever that journey takes these awesome, talented young ladies.

Thank you to everyone who made this magnificent experience possible.

Steve Brown