Duo celebrate with big plays
IT was a weekend which Jarrod Laycock and Sean Stuchbery could have only dreamt about.
On Friday night they were chosen in the Bundaberg Cricket Association (BCA) Invitational team to play the Australian Cricketers Association Masters all-star team in a Twenty20 match at Salter Oval on November 5 and in the Wide Bay open team for the Schaeffer Shield also at home this weekend.
On Saturday, they each produced match winning heavyweight knocks to spearhead their respective clubs Brothers and Across The Waves (ATW) to crucial away wins in round three of the Bundaberg-Fraser Coast (BFC) League over previously unbeaten Fraser Coast duo Past Grammars and Hervey Bay Bushrangers.
Brothers were in serious trouble at 5-56 in the 20th over, but No. 5 Laycock, who had started the season slowly and again started scratchily, came alive after taking 60 balls to crawl to 29.
From his next 38 balls, he plundered 113 with nine sixes and eight fours, and he remained unconquered at the end of their 40 overs, carrying his side to 8-228.
He then pulled on the keeping gloves and took two sharp catches and effected one stumping as the Fraser Coast premiers were bundled out for 127 inside 29 overs for the Brethren to also claim a bonus point.
The 25-year-old put much of his weight of around 120kg behind his shots in a display of power hitting.
It was his highest score in top grade and he said it was “definitely good to get form going” before the Schaeffer Shield and taking on an-all-star cast of former Australian Test stars.
“But my highest score ever was 182 back when I was a junior playing up in Division 4 – that was the last time I was allowed to play down there,” Laycock said.
Stuchbery also came to the fore in ATW's hour of need, with a masterly display of leg spin.
ATW were restricted to 7-180, and the Bushrangers were well on track at 3-87 before Stuchbery weaved a spell of deception and claimed 5-28 from eight overs to be the main destroyer in an implosion of 7-30.
Stuchbery, 29, who spent two years in England but had a full season off after returning home, but returned for a “few games'' last season, said it had been a “long time” since his last five-wicket haul in top grade.
“This was a crucial one though, but I could have been taken off after my second over, but Jonesy (captain-coach David Jones) stuck with me and thankfully it paid off,” Stuchbery said.
“That wicket was the same wicket they have used six weeks in a row and it was like mud rolled in and a leg spinner's heaven.”
The wins leave Brothers and ATW as the only unbeaten teams and with the two highest-placed teams to battle it out in the grand final on December 18, they now have the inside running to another grand final showdown.
“It's pretty good – everything I have tried apart from doing a deal with Jonesy, these are the three things I wanted and I have never trained as much in a whole season,” Stuchbery said.
“To play against the Masters Allstars will be just unreal and I can't say thank you enough to (BCA president) Les Bennett for picking me.
“The only reason why I am playing is Jonesy rung me on my way back from England at Dubai airport at Christmas and asked me to play and help the young blokes through.”
Laycock will be joined in the Invitational side by four team-mates — four-times Tallon Medallist for the BCA Best and Fairest, David Boge, who has the honour of captaining the side, Boyd Williams, master-blaster Adam Rayner, who is yet to play a game this season due to suspension, and young gun Steve Grogan.
Stuchbery is one of four ATW players in the side, along with Brendan and Trent Prossliner and rising star Callum Stitt.
Country/Wests, who had the BFC bye on the weekend, are represented by South Queensland Country incumbent Travis Henke and stalwart fast bowling workhorse Andrew Gear.
Norths stalwart Michael Ryan has also been rewarded for his long and outstanding service to Bundaberg Cricket with his inclusion in the side.
The Wide Bay team for the Schaeffer Shield includes Laycock, Stuchbery, Brendan Prossliner, five from Fraser Coast in Shane Muller, who is skipper, Brad Wex, Sam Chew, Ashley Renouf and Chris Hughes, and one each from Gympie (Andrew Batton) and South Burnett (evergreen Ashley Sippel).
One player is still to be added.