Club culture, teen talent, ‘Mr P’ lift Hornets into final
LOYAL Ipswich Hornets women's coach Tony Potbury is reminded how young his side is every time he sees them arrive.
"It's a bit surprising when you turn up at training and all the girls are rolling in with cars that have got L-plates on,'' he said.
With the exception of tireless ring leader Leanne Bichel, the Hornets side includes a number of players aged in their teens.
However, that youthful enthusiasm is one of the reasons the Hornets Second Grade side has advanced to this weekend's Jodie Fields Shield competition grand final.
Stacked with all-rounders, the young team battled gamely to beat Sunshine Coast in a nerve-racking final over at Walker Oval on Sunday.
The club's second graders remained calm and positive to secure victory with four balls to spare.
"I always knew Sunny Coast were going to be hard to beat because they are a strong club,'' Potbury said.
"I didn't think it would come down to that though. No way in the world.''
The Hornets achieved a wonderful victory reaching 5/142. They had restricted the visitors to 9/141 in the morning session.
However, in the cautious and controlled run chase, the Hornets still needed 31 runs with six overs to go.
That was reduced to 12 runs off the final two overs and a boundary to claim victory in the final six balls.
Hornets batters Macy Hauser (39) and Felicity Koch (24 not out) guided the team home after an earlier vital 23 run settling effort from first drop Trinity Doyle.
The Hornets second graders play University away in a Saturday grand final, rather than usual Sunday 40 over format.
UQ (117) qualified after beating South Brisbane (102) in the other second grade semi-final.
Called "Mr P'' by his players, Potbury praised his side for their commitment and club spirit.
"They get on real well,'' he said.
"The culture at the whole club is what we thrive on. You've got to have a good culture.
"No one is really better than the rest.
"The ones and twos all train together. They are just one big happy family.''
The Ipswich Hornets first graders were bundled out of their semi-final on Sunday, going down to competition leaders Gold Coast at Robina.
After the Hornets compiled 7/164 from their 50 overs, the home side coasted to victory in the 38th over.
At the Amberley field, Potbury was a happy coach having worked closely with a group of rising female cricketers.
As players like Ellie Johnston gain Queensland Fire selection, Potbury plays a vital role maintaining the production line of talent.
"We sort of bring young ones in and we get them going,'' he said. "And then with the older ones in the side we've had for a while, through injury and Ellie going up to higher levels, we've had to pull girls up and back and around.
"But that's what we are here for - the twos are there to feed the ones (the Hornets side playing in the Katherine Raymont Shield premier grade competition).
"We've got some really good talented young girls coming through.''
The team's all-round talent was highlighted in the bowling efforts of Hauser (2/16 off eight overs), Doyle (2/17 off eight) and Koch (2/28 off seven).
Sarah Walker snared 2/28 off her six overs.
Wicketkeeper/opener Jamie-Lee Strang is another classy player.
"She's probably very unlucky that she's got a quality a keeper in front of her like Kira Holmes. Otherwise she'd probably be playing in the firsts,'' Potbury said.
In his youth-laden side, Potbury welcomed back 18-year-old Imogene Fisk-Walsh mid-season.
She's a former player of the year.
Potbury is no stranger to finals cricket, having coached a number of club and school teams to success.
That includes with the Hornets men, three Healy Cup victories in a row and in Ipswich schoolboy Treloar Shield cricket.
"My team was the first under-16 team at Centrals to win an under-16 premiership when I was coaching at Centrals,'' he said. "And not long after that, I moved over to the Hornets.''
Potbury is helped by club stalwarts Leanne and Wayne Bichel and Australian Cricket Association mentor Jodie White (nee Dannatt). She played in the first World Cup for the Australian team.
For the week ahead, his focus is solely on the Hornets women as they work to add a grand final triumph to the club's historic under-16 Lord Taverner's competition feat last year.
STATE OF PLAY
Queensland Premier Grade women's semi finals
1st Grade at Robina: 1-Gold Coast 6/165 (37.4) - Olivia Winter 1/27 (8), Ruth Johnston 1/19 (8), Keely Freiberg 2/19 (6), Olivia Bennett 1/28 (3) defeated 4-Ipswich Hornets 7/164 (50) - Hannah Freiberg 24 (81), Kira Holmes 13 (30), Ruth Johnston 22 (22), Olivia Winter 14 (43), Ella Harvey 21* (36).
2nd Grade at Walker Oval: 2 - Ipswich Hornets 5/142 (39.2) - Trinity Doyle 23 (69), Macy Hauser 39 (81), Felicity Koch 24* (48) defeated 3-Sunshine Coast Scorchers 9/141 (40) - Macy Hauser 2/16 (8), Trinity Doyle 2/17 (8), Felicity Koch 2/28 (7), Sarah Walker 2/28 (6).