By Nick Creely
Prahran has clinched its first Premier Cricket premiership in almost four decades, holding off Dandenong in a high-quality grand final on Saturday at the CitiPower Centre.
Just 24 runs separated the two powerhouse clubs on Saturday afternoon in what was an outstanding game of cricket played in front of a healthy crowd, but a stellar batting performance from Damon Egan set the scene for the True Blues.
The top-order star has been a revelation for the True Blues this season, crunching two tons during the regular season before playing an absolute blinder on Saturday.
Entering the ground at 1/41 after 10 overs, after a strong period of pressure from the Panthers inspired by spinner Suraj Randiv (2/38), Egan completely changed the course of the first innings, playing with immense freedom but also understanding the occasion and building his game off strong defence.
After the loss of James Billington sending the True Blues to 2/58, Egan – combined with skipper Jake Hancock (73 not out) played absolutely brilliantly to put on a 164-run partnership to control proceedings.
Egan crunched 107 from 118 balls, sending 12 fours to the rope and a maximum to go with it in a class performance that lifted the True Blues to 5/261 – an ominous total in a grand final.
But these Panthers gave it their all.
Tom Donnell’s group is not one to just lie down, and even after the early loss of champion opener Brett Forsyth, the Panthers were pushing for victory.
Donnell – combining with Josh Slater (36) for a 98-run stand – got the Panthers to 1/105, before the skipper fell for a classy 59 off 81 balls.
The skipper’s dismissal started the chain of events for the True Blues, with spinner James Boyce (4/40) turning in a game-changing spell, with the Panthers losing 4/32 to fall to 6/137.
Lincoln Edwards – promoted to the side for the grand final – battled valiantly to punch out 34, Pete Cassidy (31 not out) once again batted superbly, while Jacques Augustin (23) and Suraj Randiv (23 not out) kept fighting however the Panthers were restricted to 8/237 from its 50 overs.