Guess that’s why they call it the Blues: Carlton win decider

IT was always going to be tough to stop the juggernaut of Carlton given their recent form. That is exactly what Casey-South Melbourne was tasked with doing in the Victorian Men’s Premier Cricket grand final at Albert Ground on Saturday afternoon. It was an exciting matchup coming in, as these were the two strongest performing sides throughout the finals series.

With the ladder-leading St Kilda eliminated in the preliminary final round, there was the perfect opportunity for either side to claim the 2021/22 premiership. Despite some rain issues throughout the contest, it ended up being a ripping display of cricket from both sides, with a strong mix of batting and bowling excellence. Carlton was able to sneak home with a strong performance at the crease, chasing down the required total with a few overs in hand and finish the season as premiers.

Carlton (6/205) def. Casey-South Melbourne (9/200)

Carlton has claimed the 2021/22 premiership, defeating Casey-South Melbourne to the tune of four wickets at home on Saturday afternoon. It was a tense affair, with Carlton only able to get the job done in the 46th over, led by a terrific showing from batsman Thomas Smyth, who guided his side to victory with a steadying performance with bat in hand. There were some weather concerns, with rain stopping and starting throughout the day, but the match pushed on, and despite a promising first half from Casey-South Melbourne, the home side showed their class in the second innings and stormed home for a nice win.

Carlton ended up winning the toss, and given the condition of the pitch due to the weather, opted to send Casey-South Melbourne out to the crease first. Swans opener Luke Manders got his side off to a ripping start, racking up a half-century in a composed and vital performance, given the four batsmen around him could not manage a significant score themselves. When he was caught on 63, he had at least pushed his side to a decent score, despite a number of players in the batting order underperforming. By the time the rain interrupted play once again, the Swans had reached a total of 200 from their 49 overs, closing the innings and setting a bit of a task for the Blues.

Things did not get off to a great start from a Carlton perspective, with Mackenzie Harvey clean bowled by Jackson Fry for just five runs. Fellow opener Evan Gulbis began in better fashion, with 28 runs in quick succession, before Fry claimed his second wicket. Gulbis showed last week how dangerous he can be, so it was a crucial wicket for the Swans in the context of the match. However, Carlton had a number of strong contributors to come, with Smyth, Brayden Stepien and Connor Rutland all notching up 45 runs or more. These were crucial performances, with Fry claiming two more wickets in the middle of the order, both of which were for ducks. Smyth was magnificent as a vital part of the winning partnership, and when the Blues were finally able to hit the winning runs, he was awarded the John Scholes Medal for best afield, as his side held up the trophy and capped off an impressive season.

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