Excelsior elated with first Grace Shield title
Excelsior High lifted the urban area ISSA/GraceKennedy Shield cricket title for the first time in 53 years, after defeating Eltham High by 220 runs in the final at Melbourne Oval.
Guided by national Under-17 batsman, Raewin Senior, bowling his part-time left-arm spin, Excelsior bowled out Eltham for 90 in their second innings on yesterday's third and final day.
This was after Eltham were set a difficult victory target of 331 at the end of day two.
Eltham were bowled out for 96 in their first innings, while Excelsior made 228 and 178 in their respective innings.
"We are very elated to finally get this off our backs," stated an elated Kirkland Bailey, coach of Excelsior.
"It's been since 1963 that Excelsior last laid hands on this title and it feels good to finally take it home back to the family."
Needing to score a further 253 runs to pull off an upset win, Eltham, resuming on 58 for three, started badly by losing two wickets for the addition of two runs.
This left their captain and main batsman - national Under-19 representative Ramone Francis, who batted at number six - with the Herculean task of doing damage control. He was the seventh man out when he was stumped off the bowling of left-arm spinner Rushawn Riley for 27.
Riley supported Senior ended with three for 13.
"We planned how to get the victory last (Tuesday) night and it worked," Bailed explained.
"Once we kept it tight, they would not have the technical competence to handle our bowling.
"They have one extremely good player (Francis) and he would have to do everything for them."
Shawn Headlam, coach of Eltham, who were seeking their second title in three years and seventh overall, said he was expecting a tougher fight from his charges.
"It's a bit of a surprise how we folded," he said. "We were a bit confident coming into the final day, given that most of our key batsmen were yet to come.
"But no one wanted to stay around with the captain and in the end it cost us. It was poor cricket by us, over the three days."
He added: "We will just have to now turn our attention to recapturing the urban area Digicel Twenty20, as well as try and go on to win the all-island Twenty20."
Before Excelsior's triumph, the closest they had reached to the title since 1963 was in 1981 and 1996 when under the leadership of Courtney Walsh and Chris Gayle, respectively, they reached the final.