December 14, 2001

New South Wales crowned national under-19 champion

New South Wales is the national Under-19 champion for 2001-02, having outlasted Queensland to win a thrilling tournament final in Newcastle this afternoon. After a topsy-turvy two days of cricket, the Blues were forced to weather a brilliant late order revival from their opponents before ultimately sealing a 22-run victory.

All-rounder Daniel Christian, whose innings of 68 extricated the home team from trouble and lifted it to an eventual total of 242, was the hero of the victory and fittingly claimed the last wicket of the match.

Also instrumental in the Blues' march toward a first national title since 1998-99 was Brad Roworth (3/43), who followed a belligerent innings of 37 with guileful medium pace bowling that caused the young Bulls to lose their way in the middle stages of the chase.

The Blues' lower order had resumed at 8/210 at the Number 1 Sportsground this morning, and again provoked frustration for their opposing bowlers by eating up more than an hour of play today before surrendering a wicket. As it happened, another then fell just two deliveries later to finally put a seal on the innings.

But, by then, Christian and wicketkeeper-batsman James Allsopp (28) had hoisted the home team to a position so strong as to ensure that Queensland's quest to snare a third consecutive national title would be a difficult one through the afternoon.

Left arm paceman Chris Summers (2/9) was the successful bowler, trapping the plucky Christian in front of his stumps and then finding the outside edge of Allsopp's bat with only one further run added to the total. But the wickets came after around 70 minutes of play on the second day, limiting the time available to the visitors to chase down their target.

Aaron Maynard (42) and Greg Moller (35) swiftly pushed the Queenslanders into a sound position at 2/93 in the hour after lunch, and a missed slips catch off the latter's bat in the closing over of the morning session was beginning to look like a very costly miss.

But the New South Wales bowlers, ably led by Roworth, made a series of incisions in the afternoon session to decisively wrest back the initiative. Nathan Kruger (9) and captain Craig Philipson (8) had perished before lunch, and now teammates Maynard, Moller, Julian Nielsen (0), Murray Bragg (19) and Chris McCabe (16) all joined them in the pavilion prior to tea.

Maynard and Nielsen fell in the space of three Roworth deliveries; a disastrous run out claimed Moller; McCabe edged to Allsopp as Roworth came around the wicket; and then Bragg lost his middle stump to New South Wales captain Jarrad Burke.

The match started to turn again as Scott Brant (49) launched a blistering counter-attack that rivalled New South Wales' own late order recovery earlier in the match. With a 62-ball assault that featured seven well timed boundaries, the number ten batsman led a stand of 41 runs for the ninth wicket with Luke Davis (31) and another threatening liaison of 24 with Summers (3*) for the tenth.

But a mix up in running saw Davis lose his footing - and his wicket too - as he tried to scramble back to the striker's end to beat a throw from cover. And, with around 12 overs still potentially available, medium pacer Christian (1/7) then established his team's place in the annals of the championship when he beat an attacking shot from Brant with the first delivery of a new spell to artistically shatter the stumps.

Elsewhere in Newcastle, Tasmania and Victoria enjoyed great days to fill third and fourth placings respectively.

The Tasmanians earned their place in Section A next season when they scored a tough three wicket win in a low-scoring contest with Western Australia.

Victoria, meanwhile, relied on an innings of 99 from Adam Crosthwaite to amass a score of 6/252 in response to South Australia's total of 175 from yesterday.

And in the battle for seventh and eighth, the Northern Territory prevailed in a thrilling finish against the Australian Capital Territory. Needing 234 for victory, the Northern Territorians passed the target with a solitary wicket to spare.

The Championships reach their formal conclusion at an official dinner in Newcastle tonight, at which the Player of the Championship and the squad of 14 players chosen to represent Australia in next month's Youth World Cup in New Zealand will be named.