Victoria end title drought
Victoria ended a streak of four domestic one-day final losses by beating Tasmania at the MCG by 84 runs under the Duckworth/Lewis method to lift the Ryobi Cup. Victoria recovered somewhat from a shaky start to post 194 and then proceeded to knock over the Tigers for 109, with Dirk Nannes and Mark Cleary picking up three wickets apiece.
The start of the match was delayed by half an hour because of a wet outfield and with the pitch retaining some moisture, Tasmanian captain George Bailey had no hesitation in sending the hosts in. His move seemed to have worked as the Tigers struck early to remove danger man Matthew Wade before rain delayed the match again for 45 minutes.
Victoria resumed with Brad Hodge (61 off 69 balls) in vintage form, crushing three boundaries in quick succession after the delay, but Brendan Drew (3 for 36) got the key wicket of Aaron Finch, and then dismissed Michael Hill as well as the Bushrangers limped to 3 for 75 off their first 20 overs with Brad Hodge and Andrew McDonald the not out men at the break.
The Tigers were keen to get off to a flyer in response, but Man-of-the-Match Dirk Nannes (3 for 29) struck twice early to remove openers Mark Cosgrove and Jonathan Wells. Peter Siddle was introduced to keep the pressure on but he had the opposite effect, with Bailey cracking three boundaries off his first over.
Bailey looked to be in fine touch until a moment of madness changed the course of the match when he was on 27, as he top-edged a pull shot off a length ball from McDonald. From there, Tasmania collapsed with Travis Birt (run out), Rhett Lockyear and James Faulkner all falling cheaply before the end of stage one to leave the visitors tottering on 6 for 73.
Hodge and McDonald resumed for the Bushrangers on a mission, taking 46 runs off the first four overs after lunch. Despite the wicket of Hodge, the hosts continued to score freely as they aimed to bat Tasmania out of the match, but suffered a batting collapse of their own, losing 5 for 25 to be all out for 194, giving Tasmania some hope of victory.
That hope was short lived though, as Nannes and Mark Cleary (3 for 32) finished the Tigers off in the 32nd over, with only Ed Cowan (32 off 68) offering any resistance.
The Ryobi Cup win marks the Bushrangers first Domestic One-Day Cup win since the 1998-99 season.
Andrew Fuss is a freelance writer based in Adelaide