The ACT Rockets indoor cricket team were crowned Australia’s best after defeating Queensland by 23 runs in the final of the Men’s Opens Indoor Cricket National Championships.
The win marked the first ever Men’s Open title for the ACT, as they upset the highly-fancied Queenslanders on Saturday afternoon in Brisbane.
Bowling first, the Rockets kept Queensland to just 51 runs – the home side’s lowest total for the tournament.
The visitors got off to a shaky start with the bat, before Vinesh Bennett and Timmy Floros catapulted the side to a comprehensive victory.
Rockets skipper Matthew Floros was named Player of the Grand Final, and will join teammates Bennett, Luke Ryan, and Grant McDonald in the Cricket Australia High Performance camp ahead of next year’s Trans-Tasman series and World Cup.
Before the tournament began, Bennett acknowledged that while the side had been going through a rebuilding phase for a number of years, it was time to “walk the walk”.
“A few characteristics of champion teams are everyone rowing in the same direction, no one looking for an easy out. Everyone took the hard road, and that showed throughout the whole week.
“True to what we’ve been talking about prior to going away, we walked the walk.”
Queensland has won a staggering eleven national tournaments since 2000, but an early win over the reigning champions gave the Rockets the belief that they could end fifteen years of heartache.
“The confidence actually came early in the week when we beat Queensland on Day One.
“We turned up on Sunday with a full house down there at Strathpine to watch Queensland do what Queensland do, and they got a bit of a shock when we chased down their total of 62.
“To keep them to 62 was a great effort, but then also to chase it down and do it convincingly, it sent a real message, not only to our group, but also to the whole competition that we were here and we were a genuine contender.”
The win marks the second time Bennett has won a national title, having won a championship in his tenure at New South Wales, in stark contrast to the fortunes of teammate Luke Ryan.
“I’ve been a part of this team for six years now, and in the rounds this was the first time we’d ever beat [Queensland],” said Ryan.
“We all know our background, our history. We know how hard everybody has worked to get this, and this is just the culmination of that hard work.
Whilst Ryan waited six years for his first taste of victory over the Queenslanders, young gun Alexander Floros managed the feat in his first outing.
“There’s been a lot of people that have played for over ten years [without success], and for a first year to come in and take the title straight away, it’s a bit of an unreal feeling,” said Floros.
“We’ve been rebuilding since about 2009, and had a lot of younger guys come through, so for years to come we’re definitely going to be up there.”
Rockets star Brock Winkler said the side were full of confidence heading in to the decider, having beaten Queensland twice from three attempts so far in the tournament.
“We’d played them three times before that, and posted totals larger than 50 in each game.
“We knew that if we did the little things right that we’d done all week then we could get the job done.
“We may have had a slow start in the game, but we knew if we continued to do our things and play our game, play to our strengths, then we’d get the win.
“If we continue to do the things that we’ve done this week, then I have no doubt that we can carry on being successful for a long time if we keep this group together.”
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