Young Whalers into semifinals
Two tight victories in consecutive days have helped Albany’s first XI qualify for today’s A-section semifinals after finishing second in their pool at senior country week in Perth.
With several fresh faces in their young squad, the Whalers lost to Geraldton on Sunday but turned their form around with a tense 29-run win over West Pilbara on Monday and defeated Peel by 35-runs in similar circumstances on Tuesday.
The Whalers face archrivals Eastern Goldfields, who topped the other pool, at Charles Veryard Reserve today for a spot in tomorrow’s final against either Geraldton or Upper Great Southern.
Englishman Jujhar Johal top scored with 42 and was well supported by Matt Walters who made 40, while captain Nathan Crudeli chipped in with 24 as the Whalers were bowled out for 155 by Peel at Alderbury Reserve.
Peel were in all sorts of trouble at 6-28 after pace trio Crudeli, Coen Marwick and Ben Grey snared two early wickets apiece.
However, Peel fought hard as a 50-run stand between Ian Lattimore and Dylan Smith gave their side hope.
Young spinner Aubin Spurr broke the crucial partnership when he dismissed Lattimore on 29 and Smith went on to make 41 but was the last man out, bowled by Marwick for 41 as Peel managed just 120 in reply.
Grey led the way with 4-27 off 10 overs to go with Marwick (3-36 off 12) and Crudeli (2-24 off 12). On Monday, the Whalers made hard work of their run chase of 130 against West Pilbara after slumping to 8-107.
Grey and Spurr rescued the innings, however, as they put on 33 runs for the ninth wicket to guide the Whalers home.
Grey was unbeaten on 30 and Spurr made an impressive 16 to go with earlier contributions from Marwick (40) and Walters (20) as they finished all out for 158.
Crudeli said it had been a terrific fightback from his inexperienced squad. “We’ve had to work hard for our wins and the bowlers have been superb,” he said.
“I’m really proud of everyone.
“Everyone is starting to believe we should be here and contend-ing.
“We are playing aggressive, positive cricket and are taking the game to opposition sides and, if we can get a score on the board, I’ll back our bowlers in come the next two days.”
Johal (130 runs at an average of 43.3) and Crudeli (118 at 39.3) have been in terrific form with the bat for the Whalers, while Crudeli and Grey have 17 wickets between them already.
Meanwhile, Albany’s other two teams are also in title contention in B-section and E-section respectively after producing solid results in the first three days.
Albany’s second XI meet Bunbury and Districts in today’s semifinal after they bounced back from a first-day loss to beat Busselton-Margaret River and Eastern Goldfields.
Matt Ellul took 5-19 as Albany skittled Eastern Goldfields for 47 on Tuesday before Englishman Shameer Ahmed made 59 to lead his side to victory as they made 182 in reply.
The previous day, a century to Neil Ferreira helped Albany to a 118-run win.
In E-section, Albany will clash with Peel 4 in the semifinals after wins over Northam and Peel 5 on Monday and Tuesday.
Jarrad Norton took 4-11 in the win over Peel, while on Monday they made an incredible 7-381 batting second, with Tom Sutherland (135) and Jeremy Watson (101ret) both making tons.
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