WITH a bit more luck, the Macquarie Coast Stingers could have been headed for the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Instead, they’ll have to try again next season after they finished their Regional Big Bash campaign at the bottom of the Sixers Conference, Port Macquarie pool.
Coach Dave Burley admitted 10 balls in each game was all that separated them from three wins from three starts – they finished with three defeats.
“T20 is a funny game,” Burley admitted.
It took a heroic last-over effort from Northern Rivers wicketkeeper Jayden Hoare to get his side home as they chased down 183 on the last ball of the innings.
“Their keeper scored 55 not out and hit a few massive sixes,” Burley said.
“He opened for them last year.”
Eventual winners Coffs Coast Chargers scored a respectable 9-153 in the Stingers second match of the carnival before the hosts lost their last three wickets for four runs to be bowled out for 142 in reply.
The turning point came early in the chase following a mix-up between Chris Cole and Callan McKiernan that saw McKiernan run out.
He had raced to 34 and the Stingers were cruising.
“We were all out for 142 in reply and still had two more overs left,” Burley said.
“But that’s cricket.”
With nothing more than pride to play for, the Stingers scored an imposing 202 in their final match of the carnival before Northern Inland Bolters chased the target down in 18 overs.
At the time, the Bolters were still a chance of progressing to the SCG if they had have scored the runs inside 15 overs and Northern Rivers beat Coffs Harbour.
“I heard their coach say they wanted to score the runs in 15 overs which I didn’t think was going to happen,” Burley said.
Despite the disappointment of not progressing any further, the coach was impressed with most of his side.
“We were 10 balls off winning each match; the players performed really well, everyone makes mistakes, it’s just what you learn from it,” he said.
The coach saved special mention for Wauchope spinner Bailey Smith, Rovers wicketkeeper Jackson Korn and United’s Ryan Yates.
“Jackson impressed with his batting; he hit 19 off the last over in the first game,” Burley said.
“He hit their quick for two sixes over mid-wicket before he ramped him over his head for four and Bailey bowled really well and he just hits the ball so cleanly.”
Burley was also pleased to see Callan McKiernan’s return to cricket.
“It was good to see him back after two knee reconstructions; he scored 11 in the first game and looked really good,” he said.
“He hit 34 in the second game until the run out and then 27 in the last game.”