Sunday, July 31, 2011

. . . Over, and Game.

Phew. The Australian National Indoor Cricket Championships are over for another year. Officially known simply as the 2011 Australian Open Championships (SEO anyone?), this was the 27th holding of the event . . . although no one seems to know if that includes the nationals held under the auspices of the ICA back in the early 1980s. No matter.
As we reported earlier, we were there photographing the event, and as you should know by now, the photos are available for viewing/purchase HERE.
Back to the tournament. First, the results:

Lord's Taverners Shield.

© 2011 Sheldon Levis

Queensland dominated in the Lord's Taverners Shield competition, and continued that dominance right up to the end. Undefeated throughout, they outplayed South Australia in the Final and were worthy winners over a plucky South Australia. To their credit, South Australia never stopped trying, and maintained their customary enthusiasm and great humour right up to the last ball.
Without taking anything away from the awesome, undefeated Queensland side, the South Ausralian LT story is an admirable one: despite finishing just fourth behind Qld, WA and Vic, South Australia gained their place in the Grand Final at both Western Australia and Victoria's expense: after losing twice to WA in the qualifying rounds (once by 8 runs, once by 54 runs), South Australia lifted enormously to inflict a 73 run victory over WA in the Semi-Final, then followed up with a 31 run victory over Victoria in the Preliminary Final to gain their Grand Final berth. A fantastic effort.

All the LT Shield teams deserve the highest praise and respect for their efforts over the tournament: games were played in the best possible spirit, there was genuine respect amongst players, officials and supporters of all sides, and the camaraderie between players of all States was particularly noticeable--and if I had a dollar for every friendly conversation an LT player struck up with me during the tournament I'd probably not have to rock up to work for a week or so. Great stuff guys, hope to see you all again.

21 and Under Men.

© 2011 Sheldon Levis

Victoria took out the 21 and Under Men competition, relatively easily despatching Western Autralia in the final.

Queensland, undefeated in the qualifying rounds, were handed their first defeat by Western Australia, losing by 5 runs in an intense Semi-Final. Fronting up later against Victoria, Queensland suffered their second loss, coming up against a Victorian side oozing confidence and self-belief after thrashing South Australia in an earlier Semi-Final. Victoria won by 37 runs, and despite finishing third after the qualifying rounds behind Qld and WA, Victoria were in the Grand Final.

The confidence and self-belief did not desert Victoria come the Grand Final, and they were never seriously threatened by Western Australia, winning by a comfortable 46 runs.

Some breathtaking talent on display from the younger Men, and the stocks from which future Australian National sides will be chosen looks as strong as ever.

Open Women.

© 2011 Sheldon Levis

Queensland Women were the ultimate winners of this absorbing competition, defeating Victoria by just 28 runs. Victoria were always there or thereabouts in the final, but just couldn't quite catch up to the Queenslanders.

Queensland Women were undefeated in the qualifying rounds, losing an average of just one skin per game. However, as with a few other teams, when the finals arrived things changed: playing an amazing game, Victoria shook Queensland with a 6 run victory in a dramatic Semi-Final. Victoria straight through to the Grand Final, but Queensland then had to play a sudden-death Preliminary Final against an increasingly confident New South Wales, against whom they had two close games in qualifying (22 run margin, then an 11 run margin). Queensland steadied, shrugged of their earlier loss and recorded a comprehensive 58 point win over NSW, and moved to the Grand Final (see above).

The winning margins of the Grand Finals was decreasing each game: LT Shield was won by 178 runs, Under 21 Men by 46 runs, and Open Women by 28 runs. The Open Men kept that trend going . . . and how!

Open Men.

The Open Men's Grand Final was as exciting a game as I've ever seen (I have seen a few). The finish could not have been scripted better.

But first, the road to the Grand Final . ..

Despite winning one less game than Western Australia, Queensland finished on top of the table after the qualifying rounds (winning more than enough Skins to make up for the one less win). Included in that qualifying round were some outstanding games: North Queensland defeating Victoria by 1 run; North Queensland defeating NSW by 2 runs; South Australia bowling and fielding out of their skins to restrict WA to just 69 runs, then hanging on for a 7 run win; WA defeating Qld by 7 runs; Qld defeating ACT by just 12, and SA defeating Nth Qld by 2 runs.

In the Semi-Finals, Queensland booked their Grand Final berth with a comfortable 40 run victory over WA, and SA despatched Vic by 47 runs. South Australia lost to WA by that exact same amount in the Preliminary Final, leaving us with a Queensland versus Western Australia Grand Final.

I could take a dozen or more paragraphs to talk about what happened during the Grand Final, but suffice it to say this:

. . . with one ball remaining, Western Australia were 4 runs ahead . . . and the batsmen were on "third ball". For the uninitiated, "third ball" means the batsmen must score, otherwise they will lose 5 runs. So if WA don't score off the last ball of the game, they lose 5 runs and they also lose the National Championship.

They scored a single, surviving a very close attempted run-out !!!!!!

© 2011 Sheldon Levis

Needless to say, bedlam broke loose.

More soon, I need a cuppa after all that. Please feel free to leave a Comment, always nice getting feedback.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Australian Open Indoor Cricket Championships

Okay, I had announced this in a previous post, but now it's official: Indoor Cricket World/Dusty Dingo Photography is the nominated official photographer for the upcoming Australian Indoor Cricket Open Championships.

PHOTOS OF THE TOURNAMENT ARE NOW AVAILABLE FOR VIEWING AND PURCHASE

The pinnacle of Indoor Cricket competition in Australia, this event will be held from Sunday 24th July to Saturday 30th July 2011, at the Ballajura Indoor Sports Stadium, Cnr Oxleigh Dve and Townsend St, Malaga, Perth.

Competition is divided into Open Men, Open Women, Under 21 (boys), and the Lords Taverners Shield, for players with an intellectual disabilty.

Now, I know what to expect at an Australian Open as far as non-stop action, noise and atmosphere. I've umpired in many of them, so I should. And I've played in more Australian National Masters competitions than I care to remember. But not everyone is in this same boat:

I was talking to a couple of my workmates last week, just a general chat about the inclusion or otherwise of people with an intellectual disability in mainstream sport (I have a post on this exact subject nearly ready for publishing--coming soon).

During our conversation, I mentioned the Lords Taverners Shield, and how fantastic it was that that competition was held as part of the Australian Open Championships. But when I explained that it was indoor CRICKET, both women (my workmates) glazed over and began mumbling randomly . . . "rather hammer nails into my eyes" . . . "the only sport where old fat blokes can get a game" . . . "individual synchronised swimming more exciting" . . .

"But but but" I spluttered, "this is INDOOR cricket". "No" they replied, "it's indoor CRICKET" as they reached for the bag of nails.

As readers may have noticed in an earlier post somewhere, I am not a timid soul. I have taken risks with life and limb on many occasions, for a wide variety of reasons. However, as I began to try to convince my two wormkates of the merits of indoor cricket, I felt the sisyphean boulder (google it) pressing into my face. So I did what any mere mortal should do in the face of such a challenge . . I changed the subject.

But it did get me thinking . . . through the Indoor Cricket World website, I have for years banged on about the seriously weak marketing of indoor cricket. And you know what? . . . you're with me, right? . . . .

Okay, maybe I've missed the tv ads promoting this championship--after all, I refuse to watch channels 7, 9 or 10 unless absolutely essential (Test Cricket, occasionally an AFL game, both with the volume turned down and the radio blasting out the ABC's commentary ....except of course when the "live" games we in the West receive are on a 2 or 3 hour delay). Any readers who can put me straight on the number and frequency of tv advertising, please, drop me a line so I can grovel an apology . . .

And maybe I've missed the ads in the local rag (I haven't read the West Australian advertising-and-populist-opinion-manipulator-disguised-as-a-newspaper for a few years now). Again, readers/line/grovel/apology.

And I've missed the interviews on local radio . . . unless they were on 6PR . . . but then, if they were, no one else would have heard them either. . . . readers/grovel/etc . . .

And please tell me I'm just not aware of the promotion of the sport through invites to, or at least through, local schools to attend for a game or two (especially older high school kids).

And lastly, I've obviously missed any promotion on Cricket Australia web site's NEWS page. To be fair . . . there is mention of the Opens if you click on Getting Involved, then click on Indoor Cricket, then scroll down. No headlines. No banners. And nothing on the front page. You have to go looking specifically for Indoor Cricket . . . . now that's what I call preaching to the choir . . . .

Here's hoping Cricket Australia put a little more thought and effort into promoting this event beyond just preaching to the choir.

I'd love to save my workmates from wasting their nails . . .