It’s hard to keep up with all these Stratford flags

The Redbacks added another premiership to the collection recently, taking out the Gippsland Cricket League Kookaburra Cup.

In what was an odd premiership victory, Stratford played for the trophy nearly three years after qualifying for it.

With the Kookaburra Cup an annual contest between the top-two premiership winning sides across the six Gippsland regions (Sale-Maffra, Bairnsdale, Latrobe Valley, Leongatha, Traralgon, Warragul) from the previous season, and with COVID postponing the 2021/22 instalment, the Redbacks were finally able to take to the field to play a match that was certainly some time in the making.

Stratford qualified for the 2021/22 Kookaburra Cup after winning the SMCA premiership in 2020/21.

Calculations for the Kookaburra Cup are based on form and percentage from the season in which a side wins the premiership in their respective association.

A 10-win, four-loss record in 2020/21 was enough to see the Redbacks earn the right to play Bairnsdale Cricket Association club Wy Yung.

Taking to Stratford Recreation Reserve on Friday, February 10, the Redbacks elected to bowl first upon winning the toss in the twenty20 fixture.

Adding to the oddness of the occasion, only six of Stratford’s premiership 12 from the 2020/21 Grand Final played in the Kookaburra Cup.

Wy Yung got away to a decent start, and had 50 on the board by the seventh over.

However, once fielding restrictions lifted, the Redbacks were able to control the tempo of the match.

Stratford took boundary options away from Wy Yung, and with men patrolling the fence, happily let their opponents take singles either down the ground or square.

Wy Yung only hit one boundary (a six in the last over) after the seventh over.

Wy Yung opener Daniel Gledhill top-scored with 41 off 43 balls, in a total that read 8/106 at compulsory close.

Stratford bowlers all chimed in with wickets. Seb Pendergast nabbed 2/17 from his four overs, while Jack Rietschel took 2/20 from just as many.

In reply, a 66-run stand for the second wicket between Lachlan Channing and Rietschel put the Redbacks on the cusp of victory.

Stratford went at a similar tempo to Wy Yung, however the main difference was the Redback turned more ones into twos.

The home side also managed to get a ‘big over’ away, with Rietschel taking 12 runs off the 12th. From there, they were essentially able to play the game out with minimal risk and coast over the line in the 18th over for an eight wicket win.

Channing remained not out on 42 from 44 balls, and Rietschel 41 off 30.

In previous years, the winner of the Kookaburra Cup earnt the right to represent Gippsland in the Cricket Victoria Regional Big Bash, although this competition has not run since the 2019/20 season.

There was another Kookaburra Cup played two weeks later, on Sunday, February 26.

This time, it was for the current season.

Warragul District club Ellinbank won the title after beating Traralgon District club Ex Students.

In what was a fair anti-climax, the Sharks were only in the final because Leongatha District club Phillip Island pulled out.

Phillip Island had originally been the second-ranked team on qualifying calculations, while Ellinbank was first.

As it turned out, Ex Students jumped from third and into the decider following Phillip Island’s exit.

Somewhat ironically, the final was played on a hard deck, on which Ellinbank closed at 8/152 from their allotted overs.

The Sharks didn’t offer much in terms of a reply, and were bowled out for 64 in less than 15 overs.

Back to the Redback’s, the Kookaburra Cup ticked off another premiership for the team wearing red and white in recent years.

With local SMCA finals starting this week, Stratford will be looking to add to the list.

It’s not a bad list either just quietly.

Back-to-back SMCA A Grade flags (2020/21, 2021/22);

Kookaburra Cup 2021/22;

Gippsland T20 Smash 2021/22, and;

Fischer Cup 2022/23.