A MAN-OF-THE-MATCH performance from Jamie Winkler has powered Exies into this weekend’s GDCA grand final against the Yenda Jets.
Winkler starred with both bat and ball to help guide Exies past a plucky Leagues Club outfit in yesterday’s preliminary final at Exies No.1 Oval.
He smashed a game-high 50 in Exies’ first innings and was unbeaten on 43 in their second dig late on Sunday, but also grabbed two wickets in a vital 10-over spell that helped turn the game.
“He’s the player of the match, Jamie,” said Exies skipper Marc Tucker.
“He definitely stood up this week and did the job for us.
“It’s probably the best I’ve seen him bat since he started A-grade and he really helped us out with the ball too.”
Exies claimed the 45-run first innings victory thanks largely to Winkler’s efforts early on Saturday, when Tucker won the toss and elected to bat first.
After just one ball, that decision looked ready to come back to haunt him – opener Dom Brown was caught behind off the bowling of Leagues Club’s Paul Plummer, who was scintillating both days.
Plummer then bowled Tom Burge to leave Exies reeling at 2-4 but they soon settled, thanks to Winkler’s 92-run partnership with Phil Burge (43).
The pair was together at the crease for close to 40 overs, setting up Exies for their total of 172.
“That was the partnership we needed at the time,” Tucker said.
“Jamie and Phil saved the game for us, really.
“Phil was definitely due but he batted really well for the amount of overs he was in for.
“Jamie followed it up in the second innings and stuck around then for a while as well.
“Then we lost three or four for 30-odd after that but we stuck at it, and a score like 172 out there is probably worth 200 to 220-odd.
“It wasn’t too good of a start but we ended up getting past it and getting a few runs on the board.”
Exies also benefited from some rearguard action courtesy of the in-form Brenton Harrison (26 not out) and Chris Mansell (14), who combined to put the finishing touches on a commanding first day for their side.
Leagues Club finally got to bat the next morning and made a handy start through openers Ben Leach (31) and Alex McMaster (8) – only for Winkler to pop up and end their 42-run stand by trapping the former in front.
Winkler then claimed McMaster’s scalp to leave Leagues Club in trouble at 2-54, paving the way for Mansell (5-41) to tear apart the Panthers’ middle order.
He had to wait until his eighth over to get his first wicket but persistence paid off for Mansell, who bowled 10 straight overs in his second spell to reduce Leagues Club to 127 all out.
“We had a period of probably an hour before lunch where we took four or five wickets and that really helped us,” Tucker said.
“We got Jimmy Binks, Plummer and the two Mathesons – and they’re four of their best batsmen.
“They started off well and stuck at it but so did we and ended up on top.”
Ahead by 45 runs, Exies were sent into bat again as Leagues Club desperately looked for a way back into the game.
But again, the patience of Winkler – who came in at 2-12 and batted until stumps were called – was an obstacle the Panthers couldn’t overcome.
That’s despite another blistering spell from Plummer, whose first five overs in the second innings were all maidens.
“There was a lot of pressure out there,” Tucker said. “We said (before the innings) that if we were none down after 10 overs it’d be a good start and we managed that – and that put all that pressure back on them.
“We didn’t score too many runs but we didn’t have to.”
Tucker will now turn his attention to the Yenda Jets, who upset Exies in the major semi-final.
He isn’t likely to change a winning formula.
“I think we’ve just got to stick to our gameplan like we did this week,” he said.
“Everyone chipped in, whether it was catching the ball or talking in the field.
“If we can score anywhere between 170 and 220, that’s a bloody good score out there.
“We’ve just got to bat well again – we know we’re bowling well, so if we can bat like that again, we’ll be going well.
“We just wanted to get into the grand final – that’s what you play all year for, and everyone’s keen to go next week.”