For three-quarters of the Tatura Cricket Club, the cricket post-season begins in earnest this weekend.
Three of Tatura’s four sides have done enough to qualify for Cricket Shepparton finals, a massive achievement for the club after it added a team to its ranks ahead of the current campaign.
After four successive wooden spoons, Tatura’s Haisman Shield squad will taste post-season action starting Saturday.
A late afternoon batting collapse at the weekend where the home side lost its last nine wickets for 38 runs on Howley Oval earned Kyabram a home semi-final, but it did not end Tatura’s season, with results falling the side’s way for it to remain sixth and head to the finals.
Chasing the Redbacks’ 246 from the previous week, it made a positive start and looked in control at many stages.
Opener Michael Archer batted with intent and had nine fours in his 50 from 55 balls, attacking as partner Caiden Pratt defended from the other end.
Archer was caught at 1-72, but the Tatura dominance continued as Tom Miller (30) and Pratt (38) moved the side to 1-117.
Jackson McLay bowled Miller and had new batsman Tim Kelly caught behind for five to make it 3-125, and when Pratt was caught shortly after it seemed the batting collapse was in full swing.
And what followed was the last six wickets falling for 16 runs as Curtis Ryan tore through the tail, Tatura eventually bowled out for 155.
Ryan finished with match-winning figures of 6-54.
After being in such a commanding position, Kelly was puzzled at how his side had fallen so short.
‘‘It was a great start. At 0-70 and 1-120 it looked like we were in a really good position,’’ he said.
‘‘And we thought our deep batting line-up was capable of getting the job done, but we just didn’t execute.
‘‘Our decision-making was fine, we just couldn’t execute and they bowled a very disciplined line and length and set a good field.
‘‘The balls were there to be hit, some half-volleys that should have gone for four, but that’s not what we did and we’ll need to be better next week.’’
The late collapse overshadowed the quality play at the top of the order.
‘‘Arch and Pratty have done that for us a few times. Their last two partnerships have been 100 and 80-odd and they’ve both developed to be quality players,’’ Kelly said.
‘‘We’re really happy with our openers and the top three as a whole, they’re in great form and very reliable moving forward.’’
Tatura’s sixth place means a daunting semi-final against Numurkah, a team it has struggled with this season.
‘‘Numurkah is a strong team, they’ve beaten us twice convincingly,’’ Kelly said.
‘‘Their spinners and slower bowlers have been the ones to tie us down, so we’ll look to play them a lot better.’’
●Tatura’s Clyde Young Shield team faces a trip to Undera Recreation Reserve on the weekend after finishing fourth on the table.
Heath Fidock (5-23) and Terry Olney (2-52) ensured Tatura’s total of 6-305 was never threatened, bowling Central Park-St Brendan’s out for 165.
Both times Tatura has been scheduled to face the Lions this season weather has intervened, so the sides will go into the finals clash with nothing to draw on from the current campaign.
●A 170-run victory has catapulted Tatura’s Jim McGregor Shield side into the top six.
After setting an imposing 277 last week at Tatura Park, the home side never let Central Park-St Brendan’s off the leash.
The Tigers were dismissed for 107 in 58.3 overs, with Harry Singh (4-15) and Gary Dealy (3-26) doing most of the damage.
Tatura faces minor premier Pine Lodge at Lemnos this weekend.
●Tatura fell to an outright defeat in the final round of its S.J. Perry Shield season, but fought hard in an attempt to make Undera bat again.
Troy Beecroft (44) and Harry Murdoch (42) did the bulk of the scoring in the total of 115, which was just 12 runs short of forcing the game into a fourth innings.
While the season has ended for the squad, the overall campaign was a promising one, showcasing the future of the club with a number of juniors using the grade to acclimatise to senior cricket.