At last it's Centrals' turn to celebrate
CENTRAL Districts are celebrating a historic achievement after ending Laidley's grand final dynasty.
The new club formed from Western Suburbs and Warwick Road Sports for the 1990/91 season triumphed in just under two days at Baxter Oval.
Needing 45 runs in the final session, Centrals' captain Ben O'Connell guided the team home being 22 not out at the end.
With SEQ representative teammate Luke Barrett keen to get the job done, O'Connell made a desperate dive into his crease for the third run to seal victory.
"I think we were always going three on the ball any chance we got,'' O'Connell said.
"We knew that they would throw everything at us to try and knock us over.''
Despite many years playing club cricket and being chosen in Queensland Country sides, O'Connell had yet to win a First Grade grand final.
He savoured his first Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association title, cuddling his young kids as the team formed a celebratory huddle.
The left-handed batsman and handy spin bowler was quick to praise his teammates after a number of terrific contributions on a seamer's wicket.
"Everyone put their hand up,'' he said.
"Luke got the house down in the first innings then Blake in the second innings as well, and then everyone else chipped in and did their part.
"It was a good all-round effort today.''
Barrett snared 5/31 off 12 to set up the win before left-handed quick Raper was the destroyer yesterday with five important scalps. They included Laidley opener Jason Cubit who topscored with 33 in the first innings.
Centrals received first use of the wicket on Saturday after winning the toss.
Play was delayed for 30 minutes after the week of rain.
After dismissing Laidley for 105, Centrals were 4/78 off 30 overs at stumps on the first day.
However, the game with four days available quickly came to an early conclusion after Centrals dismissed Laidley for just 69 in their second innings.
Centrals today made a nervous start in their search for victory, being 3/19 after losing opener Jason O'Sullivan for a duck in the first over.
However, experienced campaigners O'Connell and Barrett steadied the innings. Centrals finished 3/45 to trigger jubilant scenes at Ipswich's home of cricket.
Laidley stalwart Craig Jesberg was among the first to congratulate the Centrals players as they formed a victory circle on Baxter Oval.
He had played an important role in Laidley's domination in recent years, including winning all three grades last season.
O'Connell said Centrals' breakthrough victory was also pleasing after 100 overs lost to rain denied them a chance to win last year's grand final.
"With the reduced game and the weather playing a bit of a key (last year), it had minimal impact this game,'' he said.
"But we knew we had to bowl Laidley out twice and get the 20 wickets.
"Regardless of the toss, we had to bowl well and get those 10 wickets first of all and then get something competitive on the board.''
As the wickets tumbled, O'Connell said Centrals backed themselves to win.
"Having that done inside two days is just a phenomenal effort by everyone,'' he said.
"The spinners didn't really get much use of the wicket but it was really a seamer's wicket so guys that put in the effort with the ball, stood the seam up and did a little bit, they got reward.
"You could see that from the Laidley innings as well. Mick Sippel in the first innings got four-for I think.''
Being Centrals' first top grade title provided a huge thrill for many loyal supporters and especially officials behind the scenes.
"It was a big thing for the club from 1991 being the amalgamation of the other clubs,'' he said.
West Moreton Anglican College school teacher O'Connell was planning a quiet celebration.
However, he said the team would return to Ivor Marsden complex next Saturday to cheer on the Centrals' Third Grade team leading their best of three grand final series 1-0 against Northsiders.
Another keen spectator was former international cricketer and Laidley product Andy Bichel who watched some of the finals at Ivor Marsden Memorial Sports Centre yesterday afternoon.
State of play
Centrals chased down the 45 runs needed late this afternoon to beat Laidley outright in the First Grade grand final.
Fassifern are on the verge of winning the Second Grade grand final, needing just 10 runs when play resumes on Saturday.
In Third Grade, Centrals lead the best-of-three series 1-0 after beating Northsiders on Saturday.
Eastern Taipans and Fassifern are locked at one win each with the championship decider to be played on Saturday.