March 26, 2002

Bulls hailed as champions again

Queensland has clinched its third successive first-class title and its fifth crown in the space of eight years after it emphatically set the seal on a 235-run victory over Tasmania in the 2001-02 Pura Cup Final here at the 'Gabba ground in Brisbane today.

The win, which arrived at 1:24pm on a fittingly warm and sunny day in the Queensland capital, completed another thoroughly accomplished performance from the Bulls.

Tasmania had resumed the day at a second innings score of 4/190 as it confronted the enormous challenge of scoring 530 for its maiden first-class crown. And, when Michael Di Venuto (65) and Scott Kremerskothen (41) each fell to catches square of the wicket on the off side in the space of three Andrew Symonds (4/45) deliveries, the visitors' number was all but up.

Ultimately, the Tigers lost four wickets in the first session and then another two inside the first hour after lunch to be bowled out for 294.

Former one-day international player Symonds added four wickets to his two in the first innings, as well as scores of 91 and 32 with the bat, to ensure that he was chosen ahead of Tasmanian paceman Shane Jurgensen as player of the match.

With spirited attacking batting in the face of almost inevitable defeat, Di Venuto and Kremerskothen had extended an excellent fifth wicket partnership to a mark of 111 before the former was magnificently caught by Lee Carseldine low to the ground at backward point.

Apparently disconcerted by the loss of his partner, Kremerskothen then fell at the beginning of the next over from the Vulture Street End when he miscued a drive and lobbed the ball to substitute fieldsman Matthew Anderson at one of two gullies.

It was the beginning of the end.

Damien Wright (27*) battled gamely for 108 stern minutes and Sean Clingeleffer (12) held court at the crease for three quarters of an hour.

But the Bulls were always on course for the victory that was delivered when an edged drive from Jurgensen (8) conjured a catch at third slip for a suitably jubilant Carseldine.

International call-ups and a succession of injuries have contrived to make life difficult for Queensland this season and ensured that the completion of a hat-trick of successive title wins was always likely to represent a daunting assignment. But, over four and a half days when it mattered most, their batting was disciplined, their bowling persistent, and their fielding simply outstanding.

Though aligned against a Tasmanian team that played with trademark spirit, the Bulls dominated in almost all facets of the game.

Low crowds for the Final over recent years suggest that some members of the Brisbane public may have started to take Queensland triumphs for granted. Mercifully, one of the greatest squads in the history of Australian interstate cricket has not.