The 2005/06 season was a season which was dominated by four teams in the two day competition. North Canberra-Gungahlin were the Minor Premiers by a long way on the back of four outright victories at their home ground. Tuggeranong Valley finished second and had only lost one match in the two day competition. ANU finished third on the table just behind Tuggeranong while Weston Creek seemed strong on paper but finished fourth, winning a close match against Norths in the last round to make sure of their position in the semi finals.
The semi finals were a complete contrast, Weston Creek dominated their semi final against Norths while it was a close affair between Tuggeranong and ANU. Norths sent Weston Creek into bat in their semi final and despite having Creek 2 for 15 early, Creek had reached 5 for 313 by stumps on day one thanks to a 256 run partnership between Cade Brown and John Rogers. Creek finally declared their innings closed at 8 for 490 and had reduced Norths to 8 for 201 at stumps on Day 2. Creek picked up the final two wickets on Day 3 made their way to the Grand Final.
The ANU and Tuggeranong semi final was an entirely different affair. Batting first ANU were bowled out for 80 and reply at stumps Tuggeranong were 8 for 133 at stumps. On Day 2, Tuggeranong were bowled out for 146 and ANU were 8 for 233 at stumps. On Day 3, the ANU tail wagged with their second innings finishing at 265, leaving Tuggeranong 200 to win the match and progress to the Final. After being 3 for 39 early, Tuggeranong then struggled to 7 for 83 and the final seemed beyond them. Then Justin Haywood and Adam Ritchard combined for a 8th wicket partnership of 106 to bring the total to 189 and only 11 runs from victory with 2 wickets in hand. Both Haywood and Ritchard were dismissed on 189 wich left still 11 runs to win with just the single wicket in hand. Tuggeranong came within four of victory before Denver D’Cruz claimed Osborne lbw and they were through to the Final.
Both sides were at full strength for the Final with Creek having the strength in the batting while ANU were stronger in the bowling. ANU just need a first innings victory or a draw to claim their first Douglas Cup title since 1998/99 while Creek needed to win the match to claim the title. An added incentive was that if Creek won the title, they would be the first ACT side to win all three 1st Grade titles in the same season. They had beaten Eastlake in both the Twenty20 Cup and the Konica Limited Overs Cup earlier in the season.
ANU were a team in form, winning four of their last five matches in the Douglas Cup competition. Led by wicket-keeper Randall Starr who had a wealth of representative experience behind him and was in the form of his life. Their batting was led by Will Sheridan, the veteran Rob Regent and Jarrod Loughman. Their bowling attack was superb, led by the Victorian quick Emmett Bronca and Nathan Madsen. They also had quick Denver D’Cruz in support and the spin option of Daniel Pascoe who later went on to play first-class cricket for Oxford University.
Weston Creek’s depth was their batting. Led by the run machine Cade Brown and their veteran captain Sean Maxwell, they also had the youngster John Rogers and Wade Irvine supplemented by hard hitting opener Adam Rhynehart who had been bludgeoning attacks all season. Keeper Byron Field hit a century in the semi final and they had the all rounders in Dan Mowbray and Christian Hanna. The rest of the their attack centred around the young red headed quick Matty Bell and evergreen Luke Bulkeley. Their spinning option was the leg spinner Ryan Bulger who was their leading wicket taker for the season.
Winning the toss and sending ANU into bat, Creek hoped to exploit the conditions to try and dismiss ANU for a low score so their batting could dominate the match and try and finish the match early. The plan they hatched seemed to work with Dan Mowbray claiming the vital wicket of captain Randall Starr for just 4 in the second over of the match. By lunch Creek had taken five ANU wickets, including Sheridan for 15 and Regent for 13. It was the combination of Dan Mowbray and Christian Hanna who had taken two wickets each and reduced ANU to 5 for 64. After lunch the wicket had flattened out and the ANU batsmen started to regain control of the match. Jarrod Loughman and Achula Siriwardhane put on 116 for the sixth wicket and when Loughman was dismissed for 72, ANU were 6 for 180. The wily Christian Hanna had made the breakthrough and took another wicket 1 run later when he had Siriwardhane caught by captain Maxwell. Runs were vital as they always are in a final and the big quick Emmett Bronca assisted with this by making 36 off 57 balls late in the innings helping the side to a total of 226 with about an hours worth of play left in the day.
In fading light, the ANU bowlers were full fire and the strong Weston Creek side were reduced to 3 wickets for just 5 runs. Daniel Mowbay, John Rogers and Cade Brown were all dismissed for ducks and the strong batting side lost three wickets for 1 run. Field and Rhynehart steadied the ship until just before stumps, Field was judged lbw off Siriwardhane and Rhynehart was given out caught behind off Madsen. Both wickets fell with the score at 38 which remained the stumps score.
Behind the eight ball, Creek made a semi recovery with youngster Wade Irvine and nightwatchman Luke Bulkeley but Irvine fell caught behind with the score on 57 and Bulkeley out for a gallant 12 with the score on 61. At 7 for 61, the final looked all but gone for Creek and when Christian Hanna was dismissed for 23 off 42 balls, the score was 8 for 92 with only the captain Sean Maxwell and tail enders Ryan Bulger and Matthew Bell remaining. This is when the fightback started with Maxwell and Bulger showing more resolve than the entire top order combined. The pair took the total from 8 for 92 to 9 for 184. Bulger had made a career best 46 off 88 balls and the partnership doubled the Creek total. Maxwell and Bell combined for a 15 run last wicket partnership which proved to be vital before Maxwell was dismissed for 55 off a mammoth 148 balls. Weston Creek was dismissed for 199, just 27 runs behind ANU on the first innings.
All ANU had to do was to bat out the rest of the match and the title was theirs. By stumps despite the loss of an early wicket, ANU reached 4 for 92, leading by 119 runs with still six wickets in hand on what was becoming a very flat Manuka wicket. Veteran ANU batsman Rob Regent was the mainstay of their innings, holding the innings together while wickets fell at the other end and taking up valuable time. He and Jed Sawkins had taken the overnight score from 4 for 92 to 5 for 134 when Sawkins was caught by Rogers off Irvine. Loughman was dismissed 20 runs later also by the same combination of Rogers and Irvine, then Siriwardhane fell with the score on 169 and Creek was back in the hunt. Unfortunately for Creek, the ANU tail wagged and chewed up valuable time as well as scoring runs at the same time. Bronca followed up his first innings batting, scoring 23 off 34 balls while Regent held up the other end. Regent was finally dismissed with the score on 201. He had made 83 off 247 deliveries. The last wicket between D’Cruz and Madsen but on 21 valuable runs before Matty Bell finished off the innings by clean bowling D’Cruz. ANU was all out for 222 leaving Weston Creek an unlikely 250 off 41 overs to claim the treble.
Before the start of the day’s play Sean Maxwell saw his team’s chances as “twenty to one” and the side had 41 overs to prove him wrong. Creek had to score at just over 6 an over in a match that no team had scored at more than 3 an over. Opening the batting, Adam Rhynehart got the side off to the perfect start by bashing 46 runs off 29 balls. He was first dismissed with the score on 64 but the side had a sniff of a chance. Cade Brown joined Mowbray and the score moved to 89 before Mowbray was run out. John Rogers came to the crease and the pair put on 75 runs before Daniel Pascoe had Rogers caught and bowled. This sparked a mini collapse with both Field and Irvine falling victim to Pascoe. Ryan Bulger was elevated in the batting order and quick work by keeper Starr saw Bulger run out for just one. This put the ANU side in the driver’s seat with only four wickets needed with Creek needing a further 55 runs for victory. The two most experienced players in the Creek side was just what the doctor ordered and the pair looked immovable no matter what the students threw at them. With just 11 deliveries remaining in the match and the darkness approaching, Sean Maxwell hit the winning runs setting off wild celebrations among the Creek players and supporters. Maxwell hit an unbeaten 30 off just 20 deliveries while Brown made 94 off 90 balls and was named the inaugural Greg Irvine Medallist for the Player of the Match. It was an unlikely victory after the side was rattled in their first innings to be 3 for 5.