After surviving the roller-coaster that was the Goulburn Valley Bush Bash League final, the SRP Mud Dogs wrote their names into the history books as inaugural winners of the competition.
While their chase against Hurley's Hotel Hounds at Deakin Reserve should have been straightforward, the Dogs never looked overly comfortable — and looked in all sorts of trouble when they lost 3-1 to stumble to 9-96.
Still needing seven runs to win, No. 11 batsman Liam Smith stepped up with a crucial flick off his pads for three runs, with star batsman Joel Brett helping steer the side to the one-wicket win.
Coach Rohan Larkin said it was a thrilling match to be a part of.
“What did we lose, 4-10 or something? But that's cricket, isn't it?" he said.
“You're up and down, all of a sudden you're cruising, and then they were holding the whip handle. But Liam Smith actually won us a game in a similar situation over in Kyabram a couple of weeks ago, and he played that same shot, a whip off his legs.
“For the organisers, I suppose they wanted a nice close game, which it was. It was a fantastic crowd and our boys really enjoyed it.”
Brett was named man of the match for his brilliant 46 not out off 38 balls, a sensational knock that included two fours and three sixes to provide the backbone of the chase.
“He just batted beautifully. He doesn't look fussed. Even when he's playing out at Northerners in tight situations he's just cool, calm and collected,” Larkin said.
“The way he controlled his innings today was fantastic. He put the foot down when he needed to and took ones when it was required.”
While the chase did not prove as simple as it could have, Larkin remained thrilled with his bowling unit's performance, holding a side that includes huge weapons like Tom Donnell, Kyle Mueller, Jedd Wright and David Newman to 6-102 from 20 overs.
“I think both teams bowled really well and fielded really well,” he said.
“That was a real positive from both teams, although I think both teams’ batting probably didn't assess the situation very well. There was a point for us when we only needed four or five an over, and blokes are still trying to hit over the top.
“Hopefully we learn from those situations, but we snuck through in the end.”
Reflecting on the success of the inaugural GVBBL season, Larkin said the enthusiasm the players had attacked it with said everything.
“The most pleasing thing is the enjoyment the players got out of it,” he said.
“This is the elite of local cricket, they're all playing against one another and they've really thrived on the competition.”