Down in blazing glory
CENTRAL Highlands' under-21 representative cricketers pulled off a first in living memory for coach Troy Paradies, defeating a highly-fancied Gladstone outfit.
"I've been around this side for a while, and as far back as I can remember they have never beaten Gladstone," Paradies said.
But it didn't all go the way of the young Highlanders who were playing their first and final game on the representative calendar after two forfeits earlier this season.
With four wickets down and just 38 runs on the board at the weekend, the outlook appeared bleak for CH under equally gloomy skies.
Cue Emerald Brothers' all-rounder Cameron Keene who wasted little time smashing his way through 11 boundaries and five sixes for CH, before one skied shot too many saw him caught on the rope for 96.
Similarly strong contributions from team-mates Blake Wells (60 not out), Tom Minter (20) and Justin Stark (15 not out), left the Highlands with a respectable 256-run total by the final over.
It was a score which had CH coach Paradies hopeful but still wary of what was to come.
"They (Gladstone) had to go at nearly five runs an over," Paradies said.
"I was confident that if we bowled in the right spot and then kept the pressure on, we would be in with a shot," he said.
Not content with a near century in the first innings, Keene returned with the ball, taking three early wickets during his nine-over bowling spell to finish with very healthy figures of 3/40 - among the best of the day.
Brothers team-mate Joey Pratt was also a key player in keeping the runs to a minimum, with his 1/14 from five overs bowled.
The match was stopped in the 42nd over with persistent rain making play near on impossible, and the Highlands won on countback.
"It (the rain) takes the advantage away for both teams," Paradies said.
"Players slip over, the ball is wet… one Gladstone player lost the bat out of his hand."
But with some fresh wind in its sails, Paradies said the Central Highlands side could build on its latest win for future seasons.
"I think it's shown that we can be competitive, we can compete at that level and we're not the easy beats from the Highlands everyone expects us to be," he said.
"We have the talent and the players out there to play good cricket."
The open-grade representative clash between Central Highlands and Gladstone at the Emerald Showgrounds was a washout.