VICTORIA were drawn to play Millpark in the first round of the Twenty20 Shield, in what turned out to be a captivating tie.
Millpark travelled to Lurgan Park as favourites, as they ply their trade in the Section above Victoria. However, the home side were confident of an upset.
Millpark won the toss and chose to bat first and showed their intent early on. The young Victoria openers prevented the batsmen from playing many expansive shots, as Andrew Gray and Craig Marshall, tied up the opening batsmen. Marshall made a double breakthrough in the 6th over, the score on 27.
Keith Dempster and David Golver began to up the run rate for the visitors, taking them to 66 after the 10th over before Garry McClune removed both batsmen in an over. The introduction of Jonny Irwin provided two wickets in two balls and Victoria were beginning to look very much on top with Millpark on 78-6 after 13 overs. Darren Vennard picked up a wicket in the following over and the Millpark scoring rate died away thanks largely in part to the excellent bowling of Jonny Irwin, who went for a miserly 11 runs off his four overs. Another wicket for Garry McClune followed and a run out courtesy of Matt Parks in the final over left Millpark at 106-9 at the close of the innings.
The Victoria bowlers performed brilliantly, especially Marshall, McClune and Irwin and were backed up well in the field by a lively Victoria performance.
Victoria were confident of chasing down the total and started brightly with Dave Reiman playing a couple of lovely shots through the covers during the first over. The batsmen began to get a bit bogged down by some tight bowling and Reiman was dismissed in the 7th over with the score on 22. The next three overs only yielded 4 runs as Victoria left themselves needing 81 off the remaining 10 overs. However, Robert Black and Darren Vennard had got the measure of the Millpark bowling and began to open up, and built momentum. Having scored healthily, the asking rate remained high at 8.5 an over from the remaining 6 overs. However, Vennard took a liking to the bowling of Glover, with 18 runs coming off the over, and the asking rate was down to 6.6. The batsmen kept pace with this and Black was finally dismissed in the 17th over for 24 and Darren Martin kept things tight, only conceding two runs from the over.
With 24 needed from 3 overs another big over brought the asking rate down to 11 off 12. Martin struck again and proceeded to bowl out a maiden leaving Victoria needing 11 from the final over. A valiant effort from the remaining batsmen saw Victoria come up an agonising four runs short.
Depsite falling short Victoria can take a lot from this game. They were able to at least match a Section 2 team in every department and looked superior for large parts of the game. Victoria must now build on this and ensure that they are playing Section 2 cricket next season. Millpark 106-9 C. Marshall 4-0-18-2; G. McClune 4-0-20-3; J. Irwin 4-0-11-2
Victoria 102-4; R. Black 24; D. Vennard 47.