Although the two sides contesting the 2007/08 ACT 1st Grade Final didn’t finish in the top two spots after the preliminary rounds, both sides contained many players who went on to play First-Class, List A or Twenty20 Cricket. The Tuggeranong side contained future representative players Tom Thornton, Ashton May, Jason Floros and Jason Behrendorff while Western District contained Ryan Carters, Ben Oakley and Nathan Lyon.
Weston Creek were the Minor Premiers in 2007/08 but were upset by Western District in the Semi Final. Creek had led the match on the first innings but collapsed in their second innings to Andrew Appledorff (5-43) and Nathan Lyon (3-6) for 106. Wests then scored the required runs to get an unlikely outright victory. In the other semi final, Tuggeranong had an fairly easy victory on the first innings against Queanbeyan with Ashton May leading the way with an unbeaten 113.
The Manuka wicket was a typical Manuka wicket. A bit of life early and then after lunch it would flatten out and be a batmen’s paradise and the reverse, a bowler’s graveyard. Tuggeranong Valley’s captain, Dave Jeffrey, did the expected thing and won the toss and elected to bat. Left arm quick, Ben Oakley did the damage early for Wests dismissing both David Griffith and David Jeffrey to have Tuggeranong 2 for 39. This brought the semi final centurion Ashton May to the crease and together with opener Tom Thornton set about building a solid footing for the Tuggeranong side.
The pair put on 182 runs for the third wicket for Tuggeranong before May was dismissed just short of his second successive century for 90 caught by Ben Oakley off Nathan Lyon. John Evans was next dismissed, stumped off Andrew Jones and the momentum had started to swing again in the match back towards Wests with Tuggeranong 4 for 221. Jason Floros joined Tom Thornton and the pair put on 50 but then both players were dismissed shortly after one another. Shane Devoy was then run out just before stumps but Tuggeranong were still in a strong position of 7 for 291 at stumps.
Day two saw the Tuggeranong Valley tail wag. Keeper Sean Osborne and veteran quick Evan Kellar combined to put on what the side could think was a match winning partnership of 53. Kellar was then dismissed for 22 but Osborne helped by Behrendorff and Perera helped edge Tuggeranong to a total of 367 after Osborne was last out for 47. Tuggeranong would have thought that they were an odds on favourite to win the match. Only Weston Creek in 2006/07 with 458 and Northbourne in 1930/31 with 414 had scored a higher innings in a 1st Grade Final.
Western District started their innings and lost the early wicket of Taylor caught behind for 5 off Ash Perera. Brendan Lyon was next to fall with the score on 53 but seventeen year old Ryan Carters and Joe Cooke steadied the ship for Wests before stumps taking the score to 2 for 128 before time was called on the second day’s play. Carters was unbeaten on 45 and Cooke was on 37.
The final day, Monday, started with both sides sensing they both could go home with the Douglas Cup. Tuggeranong needed 8 wickets while Western Districts had a minimum of 96 overs to score the 240 runs they needed for victory.
Carters and Cooke had put on another 63 runs before Cooke was bowled by future Australian International bowler Jason Behrendorff for 68. The partnership between Carters and Behrendorff was 138 and put Wests in a strong position. Prolific Western District batsman Darren Richards joined Carters and the combination of youth and experience pushed Wests closer to victory. The pair put on 84 runs before Richards was dismissed one short of his half century.
Carters was the rock of the side but he was starting to run out of partners despite Wests being less than 100 runs from their target. Duane Hall joined Carters and they put on 55 before Hall was dismissed for 22 and Wests were 5 for 330, only 38 runs from victory. Oakley came and went caught by May off Perera for Perera’s third wicket of the innings.
Nathan Lyon joined Carters and the two ACT Under 19 players and future first-class players took the score to 359, just 9 runs from victory. Evan Kellar playing in his final match made the breakthrough, clean bowling Lyon for a vital 21, Carters still there on 139. Controversy then occurred when Perera believed that he had Jamie Anderson out caught behind for a duck with the score on 361. The umpired conferred and gave him out leaving Wests 8 for 361, Carters on 141. Captain Andrew Jones came to the crease and the next ball he was given out leg before wicket for a duck, giving Perera two wickets in two balls and his 5th wicket for the innings. This left Western District still six runs away from victory and Tuggeranong just a single wicket away.
Carters faced the next over from Evan Kellar and nicked the ball past keeper Osborne for three. Next number eleven batsman Andrew Appeldorff pushed a single to third man to get Carters back on strike. Then just before 6pm, showing the determination that guided him into the first-class arena, he pushed the ball towards gully where a misfield allowed Carters and Appeldorff to score the winning runs. Carters finished on 146 not out which was his initial first grade century and was awarded the Greg Irvine Medal for the Player of the Match in a close decision over his ACT Under 19 team mate Tom Thornton who on Day One made 141 to put Tuggeranong in a strong position.
The match brought down the careers of veteran players Evan Kellar and Andrew Jones but launched the careers of a number of players. The Tuggeranong side had Tom Thornton go on to play for South Australia, Jason Floros played for Queensland, Ashton May played for Tasmania and Jason Behrendorff continues to play for Western Australia and Australia in the T20 arena. Western District had Ryan Carters who went on to earn a rookie contract shortly after with Victoria and played first-class cricket with them and New South Wales as well as launching the cricket charity Batting for Change. They also had a young Manuka Oval apprentice groundsman named Nathan Lyon went on to play for South Australia before taking a wicket with his first ball in Test Cricket in 2011 and still being a main stay in the Australian Test side closing in on 400 Test Match wickets.