1959/60 season saw the defending Premiers Ainslie take on the Minor Premiers Manuka-Yarralumla. For those not aware where these teams were located, the Ainslie side’s boundaries were located everything north and west of Haig Park where as Manuka’s boundaries were located from Manuka Oval west towards the suburb of Yarralumla. The Manuka-Yarralumla side included the original Manuka side as well as the lower grade side Yarralumla. The teams were amalgamated in 1953 after a redrawing of the residential boundaries of the cricket clubs.
The Manuka-Yarralumla side had led the competition for the majority of the season, securing the Minor Premiership with two rounds remaining of the 12 rounds competition. The Ainslie side had to win their last match of the season against Queanbeyan to decide which club would face off against Manuka-Yarralumla in the final of the Douglas Cup. Ainslie won the match quite convincing with Queanbeyan being bowled out for 59 in response to Ainslie’s 1st innings of 235.
Having these teams face off in the Final of the First Grade Competition was quite apt as these teams were the strongest teams in the competition with these two sides providing the majority of players to the ACT representative side that season. Other clubs to participate in the competition (other than Manuka-Yarralumla, Ainslie and Queanbeyan) were Kingston, Northbourne and Turner. The Turner side finished last that season and seriously struggled to compete that season. Kingston finished third in the competition following Queanbeyan’s collapse against Ainslie in the last round. Northbourne finished second last and were not as strong as they had been in the 1930s when they dominated the competition along with Hall.
Along with their ACT Representatives, both sides had some key imports in their sides that season. Manuka-Yarralumla scored a coup when former first-class cricketer Gamini Goonesena came to Canberra to serve as the third secretary of the Ceylon High Commission. A right handed batsman and leg break bowler, Goonesena moved to England after playing for Ceylon. He played for Nottinghamshire and Cambridge University. After playing in Canberra he moved to Sydney and played first grade there as well as playing for New South Wales in seven matches. In all he took 674 wickets in first-class cricket in 194 matches. Although debuting in just Round 10, he had taken 23 wickets at 7.50 in just three matches prior to the Final.
The Ainslie side had a strong import as well to match Goonesena. His name was Brian Jones but was known as Barney. A fast bowler, he had played 1st Grade cricket for Carlton in the VCA 1st Grade Competition as well as playing VFL Reserves for Carlton and the VFA for Coburg. He played the first round of the VCA Competition in 1959/60 but then was transferred to Canberra due to work and he threw his lot in with the Ainslie club. Prior to the Final he had scored 302 runs at 33.50 and taken 32 wickets at 8.20. He played with Carlton from 1955/56 to 1970/71, scoring 3800 runs and taking 379 wickets. He is now probably better known as father of former Australian International cricketer Dean Jones.
The Final was scheduled to be held over three days at Manuka Oval on April 2,3 and 9. The match was seen to be even as the sides had met twice during the season with each match being drawn. In the Round 3 match, rain washed out the second’s day play. On day one, Jones had dominated the match scoring 158 including seven fours and eight sixes. In Round 8, Manuka scored 195 and in reply Ainslie reached 8 for 163.
The match started on April 2 with the Governor-General, Viscount Dunrossil in attendance from the start. Ainslie won an important toss in terms of the match and sent the Manuka side in on a wet wicket. The Manuka-Yarralumla batsmen floundered in the wake of excellent and accurate swing bowling by Jones and Ian Lees who was the nephew of the ACT Hall of Fame inductee Lorne Lees. Manuka lost their first wicket at 2 and within no time the side was 4 wickets for 6 runs. Gus Vallance was next to go with the score at 9 caught by Brian James off Ian Lees. The next wicket fell at 16 was Colin Whitehead, which was a 7 run partnership with Goonesena for the innings which ended up the innings’ highest partnership. Manuka lost their last three wickets for no runs and the innings finished on the paltry total of 19 in just 11.4 eight ball overs. Jones had the figures of 4 for 13 while Lees had the remarkable figures of 6 for 6 off 5.4 overs.
Ainslie went into bat and their innings did no better to start with, losing their first three wickets for just 9 runs, all to fast bowler Bill Heath who had come from Leeton during the season. Brian James and Barney Jones helped Ainslie out trouble by scoring 16 and 28 not out respectively. Following the dismissal of James caught behind with the score on 44. The Ainslie batsman appealed against the light but it was dismissed by the umpires. Three more wickets fell with the score on 48 and then stumps were called with the total at 7 for 53.
Heath had taken all 7 wickets so far and was on track to take all ten. Strang was then dismissed for 7 by Heath and the score was then on 58. Ron Irlam took the ninth wicket and Hopkins was run out and the innings was completed with the total on 65. The innings had only lasted another 20 minutes on the second morning. They took a lead of 46 on the first innings which seemed vital although the wicket was becoming more docile.
Manuka-Yarralumla began their second innings in a more confident manner and Flynn and Robertson put on 38 for the first wicket before Robertson played forward to a slower ball and was caught and bowled by Lees. With the score on 56, Flynn was caught at backward square leg off Jones with the score on 56. Flynn had made 27, at that stage the second highest score of the match. Whitehead and Evans encountered a persistent attack of Jones and Kevin McCarty who reduced the run rate and tried to regain the ascendency. Whitehead, who in 1960 was a member of the Australian Basketball team which tried to qualify for the 1960 Rome Olympics, was then the next to fall with the score on 83 caught be Lees off McCarty. Evans, the wicket-keeper was next to fall eight runs later for 91, also off McCarty. Evans dismissal caused a mini collapse with Manuka falling to 7 for 99 and Ainslie seemed almost certain for victory. Heath and Goonesena saw Manuka through to stumps and their score was 6 for 116 with a lead of just 70 runs.
The final day’s play started with Ainslie still the favourite to win the match and with Prime Minister Robert Menzies in attendance. Heath was out early bowled by Jones with only one run added to the total. Seven runs later the eighth wicket fell when Clark was bowled by Ian Lees. Seven runs later, Goonesena was bowled middle stump for 30 by Lees, the highest score for the match. Irlam was last out without adding the score and the innings ended at 131 off 46.3 overs. Jones had figures of 5 for 51 and Lees had 3 for 26. Jones took 9 wickets for the match. Ainslie were set 86 runs to win the match outright and go back to back as the holders of the Douglas Cup.
The Ainslie innings started badly when Heath dismissed Webb caught in close with the score on nought. McCarty and new batsman Preston took risky singles and gradually built up the innings, edging their way towards victory. Preston was given a life, dropped by Vallance in the slips. Goonesena came into the attack and despite conceding eight runs in his first over, changed the course of the innings in his next over. In successive deliveries Goonesena bowled Preston and then the key wicket of Jones stumped. This left Ainslie at 4 for 31, still 56 runs away from victory. Key Ainslie batsmen Brian James and Allan Hawke were at the wicket and they struggled to rest the advantage away from Manuka.
With the score on 41, James was dismissed for 6, bowled by Goonesena. One run later, Goonesena struck again, having Hawke stumped by Evans for 10. Nelson and Ian Lees were at the wicket and despite the best efforts of Goonesena, the pair put on 23 putting Ainslie only 21 runs away from victory with 4 wickets still in hand. The match had swung back towards Ainslie.
Goonesena made the breakthrough leaving Nelson stranded yards down the pitch, having him stumped for 12. Five balls later, Strang was bowled by Goonesena without adding the score and the match swung again. Bill Heath came back into the match the next over when the Ainslie wicket-keeper Kevin Gibb was bowled. The score at tea was 9 for 66, Ainslie still 20 runs from victory. Lees and Hopkins edged the score closer and closer and they were only 10 runs from victory when Goonesena claimed his seventh wicket for the innings by clean bowling Lees for 18.
After being dismissed on Day 1 for just 19, Manuka-Yarralumla had pulled off the impossible, winning the match by just 9 runs.
Manuka-Yarralumla 19 (BK Jones 4-13, IJD Lees 6-6) & 131 (G Goonesena 30, K Flynn 27, BK Jones 5-51, IJD Lees 3-26, KV McCarty 2-32) defeated outright Ainslie 65 (BK Jones 28no, W Heath 8-31) and 76 (G Goonesena 7-28, W Heath 3-28) by 9 runs at Manuka Oval on April 2,3,9, 1960.