By Romy Stephens
Two exciting young cricket stars, Ollie Moran and Zac Grech, helped the Victorian under-15 boys pull off a remarkable win in the National Indoor Cricket Championships on 13 July.
Coming up against indoor powerhouse Queensland, 15-year-old Moran and 14-year-old Grech from the south-eastern suburbs were prolific in leading the Vics to a narrow one-run grand final victory in front of a packed home crowd at Casey Stadium.
The duo’s match-winning batting partnership was hugely influential in the win, while each of the boys took a wicket bowling. Moran also displayed some incredible wicket keeping, including a breathtaking stumping off teammate Prathan Raje.
In what was a thrilling contest all day, it was only fitting that Grech was batting and able to see out the last two balls of the match and Moran was named player of the grand final. The game was described by seasoned commentator Gary Lowe as the “one of the best games of indoor cricket you’ll ever see!”
“Last year my team lost the grand final by a run…we were determined to win it,” Grech said.
“I enjoy the experience of playing under pressure.”
The boys – who are also close mates – have a history of exceptional performances and firing in the big games. Moran top scored in the Vic Metro Allen Shield grand final in 2018 and assisted in a crucial run out, helping the team win the title.
Last year, Grech was named player of the grand final and player of the tournament at the Under 13s Indoor Nationals, earning selection for Australia at the world series in New Zealand. In a standout performance at the series, he was Australia’s leading wicket-taker and made more runs than any player at the tournament across all age groups.
In 2017, Moran took a 5/16 off 12 overs for Hampton Central Cricket Club in a senior semi-final against Vic Cavaliers. And in February this year, Grech made 101 (off 58 balls) opening the innings in his Under 15 Twenty20 Challenge Cup grand final for Toorak-Prahran against Malvern.
Both boys have scored centuries in the World Schools Cricket Challenge. Moran made 103 not out in 2017 against Rowville Secondary College and Grech hit 101 not out against Bangladesh SS in 2018. Grech also made 100 opening in his first senior game in 2017 at the age of 12 and 122 not out as an 11-year-old in 2016.
They have also had the honour of playing with and against indoor cricket legends Justin Perkins (the boys’ Vic U15 coach) and former Casey-South Melbourne star and current BBL spinner Clive Rose – who won a Ryder Medal in Victorian Premier Cricket – in the National Indoor Cricket League (NICL) for the Central Bayside Seahawks.
Grech’s dad, Paul, said he was incredibly proud of the boys who came up against a formidable Queensland outfit.
“I was crying, it was pretty nerve-wracking that last ten minutes,” he said.
“Zac’s a bottom ager coming up against some big, quick, menacing sort of kids. It’s under 15, but I think every kid in the QLD side was six foot tall. They were intimidating.
“Proud for sure, (and) rapt that the result fell Victoria’s way.”
The National Championships was Grech and Moran’s first representative cricket experience together and it was a memorable tournament for the pair. The Vic team won an incredible 10 games in a row on their way to the title. Local Casey/Berwick boys, captain Aingharan Athiththan and vice-captain Mahdee Islam, with coach Justin Perkins and Geoff Latham, were brilliant as they guided the team all week.
The win against Queensland at a packed Casey Stadium rates as Moran and Grech’s biggest win in their cricketing journey to date and was a celebration of mateship right down to the very last ball.