PBBC Colts captain Craig ?Flea? Howarth opens the blade on his way to an unbeaten 195 against Diggers Ex-Services in the weeken
PBBC Colts captain Craig ?Flea? Howarth opens the blade on his way to an unbeaten 195 against Diggers Ex-Services in the weeken

CAPTAIN?S KNOCK



A RAINY Sunday has given Diggers Ex-Services a 'get out of jail free' card and put them into next weekend's Coffs Harbour District cricket grand final against Sawtell.

And for the second week in a row the eliminated underdog has made a valiant bid for victory ? including a landmark century against all odds ? only to have the effort count for nothing in the final watery equation.

In brilliant Saturday sunshine, captain Craig Howarth strode to the wicket to open the innings for Park Beach Bowling Club Colts.

He batted ... and batted ... and batted ... and batted ...

When Colts were bowled out for 267 in the final over of the day, Howarth had 'carried his bat' to finish unbeaten on 195, leaving rival skipper Steve Meakins full of admiration and unstinting in his praise.

"Craig is a big match player and what he did was awesome," Meakins said graciously.

"He only gave four chances in the entire innings and we had to wait for the first of them after he'd reached triple figures.

"Having players hang around to support him was a big help but nobody can deny the big story is about Craig contributing two-thirds of the team score."

As the sun sank low with skies still clear at the end of day one, Meakins said he was still confident of running down the big target.

"We bowled 77 overs at Colts and I knew if we could put our heads down and batted it out, we'd have plenty of time available to do the job," he said.

Craig Howarth was thinking much the same thing seven days ago when contemplating a large run chase against Nana Glen that included a tailender's century from Damien Elks.

But as was also the case a week back when the tables turned on the Lizards and they found themselves despatched, the rain gods danced, the heavens opened overnight and the fate of the semi-finals altered dramatically.

Diggers alternated in the centre with the showers and at a vital stage found themselves at 7-44 and struggling for survival.

"I still thought we could hang on and make it," Meakins said.

And they did.

With Colts checking the drizzle one minute, and the pair still in the middle the next, Diggers batted on and on.

At 5pm, the game was declared a draw and with a shortened over rate, Dave Smith and Joe Willman remained defiant at the crease to move their team into the season decider.

"Colts are entitled to have a big drink tonight as they've earned it," a relieved Meakins said.

"It was close but we made it.

"We're into the grand final just like we set out to do months ago."



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