Taylors Lakes roars into finals

Taylors Lakes
Altona batsman Greg Sheehan watches Taylors Lakes bowler Mark McLachlan leap for the ball. (Mark Wilson)

By Lance Jenkinson

Taylors Lakes has gate-crashed the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association finals party.

The Lions were on their knees a month ago after a mid-season slump, but three consecutive wins to finish the home-and-away campaign proved enough to snatch sixth spot.

Lions captain Jarrod Wakeling said the experience of playing do-or-die every round for the past three rounds is the ideal preparation for a finals tilt.

“We’re feeling pretty good at the moment,” he said.

“It was stacked against us four weeks ago.

“We had to win every game and have a bit of luck go our way.

“When you win those hard fought games when things get tough, there’s a lot of pressure on and you find a way to get over the line, I think that’s what finals cricket is about.”

Taylors Lakes had to do it the hard way in the final round.

The Lions ventured to Altona to cause what most would feel like an upset.

Set 143 for victory, the Lions timed their run to perfection, winning eight down with two overs to spare.

PHOTO GALLERY: Altona vs Taylors Lakes

It was not the only part of the equation that needed to occur for Taylors Lakes to reach the finals.

Only when news filtered in that Melton had lost could the Lions erupt in celebration.

The Lions successful chase was underpinned by English import Aamir Raza. Raza top-scored with 48 batting at No. 6.

His form with the bat has been impressive in the new year with scores of 46 and 48 not out in his previous two digs.

A leg spinning all-rounder, Raza was also influential with the ball, taking 2-26 earlier in the day to cap a player of the match performance.

“He had to miss eight weeks of cricket because of a broken bone in his foot,” Wakeling said.

“He’s bowling really well and he’s making runs since he’s come back. “He’s an import, he loves his cricket, he knows his strengths, he knows his weaknesses.”

Wakeling played an important role with 23 not out late in the chase, while Mick Brne was the pick of the top order with 27.

On the bowling front, Taylors Lakes’ teenage sensation Aidan Brasher caused headaches for the Altona batsmen with 4-20 off 7.3 overs.

The young opening bowler will be trusted with the new ball in the Lions first final.

“He’s had the new ball all year, so he’ll certainly have it next week,”Wakeling said.

Wakeling chipped in with 2-29 and Luke Denny claimed 1-18.

While the first week of the finals will pit two in-form sides in Williamstown and Taylors Lakes together in combat, both riding three-game winning streaks, Wakeling was quick to adopt the underdog tag, even though he knows his side has the potential to cause a boilover.

“When they played us earlier in the year, they absolutely flogged us,” Wakeling said.

“That’s probably a good thing for us because they didn’t see us in our good times and I don’t think they’ve got a lot of homework to take into next week’s game because we were that bad.”