Dominant Whalers secure Country Cup finals berth
Albany Cricket Association moved through to the Toyota Country Cup finals in stylish fashion after two dominant victories over close rivals Upper Great Southern Cricket Association at Tigerland on Saturday.
The Whalers qualified for the finals weekend for the second time in three seasons.
Their last appearance was in 2014-15, when they finished runners-up to Bunbury.
In the best-of-three qualifiers in the Twenty20 competition, the Whalers were convincing winners in both Saturday fixtures and now progress to the finals on the March long weekend.
Albany join West Pilbara Cricket Association, who won their pool back in October, as qualified teams, while Geraldton Cricket Association beat Northam Cricket Association in a sole qualifier on Sunday to book a finals spot.
As yet, no decision has been reached on the outcome of the washed-out qualifiers between Kalgoorlie-Boulder Cricket Association and Esperance Cricket Association, while the other remaining pool between Busselton Margaret River Cricket Association, Bunbury and Districts Cricket Association, and Peel Cricket Association will be contested this weekend.
Upper Great Southern, boosted by the inclusion of former WA Country XI skipper Rodney Ford, won the toss and elected to bat in game 1, but were always under pressure in their innings, with Albany taking regular wickets.
Coen Marwick and Nathan Crudeli made early breakthroughs before fast bowler Brengan Grogan (2-29) claimed the prize wickets of Julian Crudeli (12) and Ford (20), bowling the pair to leave Upper Great Southern 4-54.
Perrin Quartermaine dug in and helped push his side past 100, but when he was given out lbw to surprise spin option Zane Marwick, Upper Great Southern were all out for 118 in the 19th over.
Zane Marwick helped rip through the lower order with 4-5 off 2.1 overs.
In reply, Zane Marwick fell uncharacteristically in the first over for 1 and ACA first XI debutant Matt Walters was bowled by David Head for 3 soon after. Opener Nathan Dovey and Nathan Crudeli steadied the ship, the latter racing to 17 before he holed out to Conan Holder, but Dovey and Coen Marwick were able to guide the Whalers to victory.
Dovey smacked 60 off just 36 delivers and was dismissed by Grady Francis (2-18) with his side needing three runs to win.
Coen Marwick (35 not out) ensured an Albany win as they reached 4-122 in the 16th over.
In the second game, the Whalers elected to bat after winning the toss, Dovey and Zane Marwick putting 51 runs on for the first wicket before the latter fell trying to launch into a Head delivery.
Dovey was 30 not out at that stage, with sensible cricket strokes earning him six boundaries.
Walters joined him and the pair took to the Upper Great Southern attack, launching sixes galore to the clubroom side of the ground in a match-winning 111-run stand.
Dovey’s heroics ended on 105, after wowing all present with a 44-ball ton, while Walters belted his way to an impressive half-century.
Nathan Crudeli feasted on the final over of the innings bowled by Head, carting three balls over the rope as the Whalers reached a staggering 2-232 from their 20 overs, with Walters unbeaten on 59 off 37 balls and Nathan Crudeli 32 not out from 17 balls.
Upper Great Southern fought hard in the run chase but they failed to contain the Whalers’ bowling, with only five players making double figures, and two surpassing 20.
Coen Marwick did the damage at the top with 3-23, while Grogan produced his best couple of matches for Albany with 3-16 as he knocked over prize wicket Julian Crudeli a second time.
Grady Francis provided a late cameo with 28 not out, but it was too little, too late as they were dismissed for 129 to hand Albany a 2-0 clean sweep.
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