By Sam Watson
• A Grade, Division 1
AFTER landing some of the biggest recruits in the LDCA this offseason, the pressure was always going to be on Phillip Island to win the A1 premiership.
They were touted as flag favourites from the moment their recruits were announced, and they lived up to the hype all year, only losing one game, which was to Leongatha Town.
After a convincing semi-final win, they met Leongatha Town in the grand final, and they knew they’d be in for a fight to claim the premiership.
Town had the first little win, with captain Amila Ratnaike winning the toss and choosing to bat at Thompson Reserve in Inverloch.
Although they were scoring slow, openers Sahan Perera and Pandukabhaya Jayasinghe looked very comfortable out in the middle, and they put on a 79-run opening stand.
Shiran Rathnayake would eventually get both openers out, Jayasinghe for 32 and Perera for 51.
Ratnaike would soon find his way to the crease, and he temporarily turned the momentum of the game, making 35 off 32 balls.
But Phillip Island’s Simon Kirton soon had him caught out, and Town were quickly in a world of hurt.
Rathnayake broke through for another wicket and Kirton picked up two more, making both bowlers finishing with three from the innings.
After 50 overs Town finished at 8/167, and Phillip Island knew they had what it took to chase it down.
Lachie Cleeland kept a cool head opening the batting, and when his partner Eli Richards departed for 14, he was joined by Daniel Mock who all but sealed the victory.
They put on a 96-run partnership, getting the Sharks to 2/128, finishing with Mock caught on 55 off 61 balls.
But Cleeland kept going, making his half century and his new partner Rathnayake was keen to get amongst the celebrations early.
Rathnayake blasted 29* off 16 balls and Cleeland finished on 66*, getting Phillip Island an eight wicket win in the 40th over.
The Sharks were on top of the ladder all year in A1, and if they can keep their team together, they’ll be extremely tough to beat again in 2022/23.