The Bulls Masters visit to the Bundaberg Region came to a spectacular end with the T20 Match at Salter Oval on Saturday night.
Chinchilla born former Queensland player and Big Bash star Nathan Reardon smashed 105 from 40 balls to lead his team to a 48-run win over Bundaberg Invitational XI.
Batting first, and on the back of Reardon’s century, the Bulls Masters cruised to 6/187, and in return the home team replied with a hard-fought 9/139.
Reardon’s match-winning innings came to an end when he was caught in the deep by Brendan Grills off the bowling of Jarrod Laycock.
After being dismissed, Reardon said he felt comfortable from the first few balls he faced.
“It was just one of those nights when it came off the middle of the bat – it felt effortless,” Reardon said.
“Most bowlers (who bowl) under 110kmh I like the look of.
“I am still enjoying my cricket, and it is nice to get out there and have a bash.”
Reardon’s impressive strike rate of 262.5 was on the back of eight boundaries, and nine sixes.
Cameron Boyce was the next best for the Bulls with 37 runs from 31 balls and Andrew Symonds chimed in with a handy 23 off 16 balls to remain unbeaten at the end of the innings.
Mitch Waters was the standout for Bundaberg Invitational XI when he took the wickets of the top three Bulls batsmen to finish with the impressive figures of 3/10 from three overs.
Waters had the Bulls on the back foot at 2/11 when he sent Chris Simpson and Charlie Hemphrey packing in consecutive overs, before Reardon and Boyce steadied the innings.
Matthew Jackson was the only other multiple wicket taker for Bundaberg with the figures of 2/38. Jackson’s scalps were former Australian cricketing stars Ian Healy (0) and Andy Bichel (7).
Laycock was Bundaberg Invitational XI's best with the bat making 40 from 32 deliveries, and the big-hitting opener cleared the fence twice and smashed four boundaries.
Boyce dismissed Laycock with the help of Luke Feldman, and from the that point in the game Bundaberg Invitational XI faced a challenge from the experienced bowling attack.
Laycock said even though some of the opposition players were beyond their best it was still hard playing against the former greats of the game.
“It was tough out there, they might be getting old, but they still know where to put the ball to get you out,” Laycock said.
Bundaberg Invitational XI enjoyed an opening partnership of 44 before Bichel’s introduction with the ball.
That change from the Bulls Masters brought immediate results when the former Test paceman bowled Michael Loader (8) and Arden Lankowski (0) in consecutive deliveries.
Bichel finished the match with 3/18 from three overs while Boyce (2/28), Chris Simpson (2/26) and Nathan Hauritz (2/21) were the other multiple wicket takers.
For the Bundaberg Invitational XI, some of their young guns showed grit in the face of the Bulls onslaught.
Grills (19) and Jackson (16) held their own, while Mitch Parsons played some magnificent shots in being Bundaberg Invitational XI’s second highest scorer with 26 from 22 balls.
The Bulls Masters may have claimed revenge from the loss last year to Bundaberg Invitational XI by seven wickets, but the home team did nothing to disgrace itself against the top-quality opposition.
After the Bulls Masters T20 match, Reardon said there was more to the game then just cricket.
“The main thing behind the Bulls Masters is we are still competitive and we still like winning but the main thing is to get out in these regional areas and promote the game of cricket that we all love,” Reardon said.
“The way the Bulls Masters started was when a group of guys have realised that a lot of cricketers did come from regional areas and that was starting to dwindle, so we are trying to tour the regions.”
Reardon said after coming to the Bundaberg Region for three years it was easy to see how supportive the community was toward Bulls Masters and cricket in general.
“Without the support of the community here, and our major sponsors we can’t do what we do,” he said.
“Bundaberg has great facilities and they put on quality games, with quality teams every year, and that adds to it a little bit too, the fact that we are playing against a good standard of cricket and we have old fat guys running around sort of makes it a bit more appealing to the crowd too.”
Bulls Masters T20 Match great to watch
Bundaberg Cricket Association president Ian Grills said having the Bulls Masters play at Salter Oval was a coup for the whole region.
“It’s really great for the whole region to have the Bulls here, and a good fundraiser for Bundaberg over the last couple of years that we have been able to put it on,” he said.
“The funds that it has generated have helped Bundaberg Cricket do a lot of renovations and purchase new equipment.
“Just as Jimmy (Maher) said on the radio earlier these guys all start from grassroots and it’s great to bring it back to the region.
“We always get a good crowd roll up and the Bulls have come up with a very strong side this year.”
Ian said the Bundaberg Mayor's Invitational XI had a good chance of coming away with the win after a majority of the players had recently won the Goodchild Shield, but it just wasn’t the locals' night.
“The Goodchild Trophy is contested between South Burnett and the Wide Bay regions,” Ian said.
“Bundaberg went through undefeated, unfortunately it was washed out in the last game, but Bundaberg retained the trophy from that.”
Ian thanked the community for their backing of the sport in the Bundaberg Region.
“We have had great support and we want to thank the people of Bundaberg for coming out every year,” he said.
“The Bulls Masters love coming to Bundaberg and we hope to continue to do it in the future.”
Bundaberg Cricket Association’s Shaun Rose agreed saying the Bulls Masters Tour and the T20 match wouldn’t be possible without the support and dedication from the local community.
“It’s great for the kids, it’s great for Bundaberg Cricket, a lot of effort has gone in to this and it’s the result of a lot of hard work,” Shaun said.
Bundaberg Veteran Cricket’s Arthur Downie said they had held a sausage sizzle fundraiser at the local T20 games since the inception and it was a great way to help support the up-and-coming cricket player of the future.
“All the money we raise goes back to junior cricket in Bundaberg,” Arthur said.
“There are quite a few of the juniors we supported over the years out there tonight playing.
“They started as juniors, like Sammy Pearson who took the catch was a junior with us once, quite a few of them started out as juniors.”
Arthur said the Bulls Masters T20 Match was a great game of cricket to watch live as the guys cooking the snags had to duck from some of the near misses from the Bulls Master players hitting a few sixes in the first hour.
- Earlier report: Cricket fever as Bundaberg prepares for Bulls Masters