FOR the first time in the competition's eight-year history, Le Hunte have been crowned Quality Wool Cup champions after a thrilling climax to the Twenty20 tournament's eighth instalment in Port Lincoln last week.
The Friday afternoon match at Centenary Oval turned into a virtual final as the only remaining undefeated teams Le Hunte and Great Flinders went head-to-head, with Le Hunte chasing down their opponent’s score of 108 in the second-last over to secure the spoils.
Jackson Petty (28 retired) and Darci Best (21 retired) were the heroes for Le Hunte in the chase, putting on a partnership of 66 for the second wicket, before Ezra Foster (18 not out) and Zack Bigg (12 not out) guided their team home.
Eight under 14 teams from across the Eyre Peninsula took part in this year’s competition, with matches played at Centenary Oval, Poole Oval and the Ravendale Complex in scorching conditions on Thursday before a welcome cool change greeted players on Friday.
Far West (three wins, six points) also performed strongly over the two days to finish third, while the enthusiasm and sportsmanship displayed by all teams stood out over the two days.
There were also a number of outstanding individual performances, with the leading batsman, bowler and fielder each being awarded a framed replica Australian test shirt signed by SA Redbacks and Adelaide Strikers captain Travis Head.
The batting award was won by Connor Madden (Lincoln Great Whites), who piled on 83 runs in his four trips to the crease at an average of 27.6.
Le Hunte's Toby Baker snared five wickets at 5.2 runs apiece to take out the bowling award, while Bryce Hammond's outstanding efforts in the field for Lincoln Tuna Kings saw him draw 11 votes from the coaches to receive the fielding award.
Quality Wool's Kane McKay said the commitment by all eight teams to "play the right way" was a feature of this year's tournament.
"I made a point of listening to the coaches address their teams and it was fantastic the way they were reinforcing to the kids it's not just about winning and losing, it's also about how you win and lose and making sure your gracious," he said.
"We're very proud of our relationship with EP Junior Cricket over the past eight years and it's exciting to think we'll be celebrating the Quality Wool Cup's 10th anniversary in a couple of years.”
EP Junior Cricket president Tom Kenny also made a point of applauding the sportsmanship displayed during the tournament and said the Quality Wool Cup would provide a perfect preparation for those players going on to represent Eyre Peninsula in the state under-14 Country Cup in the Barossa Valley this week.
Fixtures, results and statistics from the 2018 Quality Wool Cup are available on the Eyre Peninsula Cricket website.