MASTER BLASTER: Queensland vice-captain Ellie Johnston is the second highest run scorer at nationals.
MASTER BLASTER: Queensland vice-captain Ellie Johnston is the second highest run scorer at nationals.

Maroons get the Blundstone Blues

GALLANT Queensland went down in the final of the Australian Under-18 Women’s T20 Cricket Championships under lights at a chilly Blundstone Arena on Thursday night.

Playing at the home ground of the Hobart Hurricanes Big Bash league franchise, the Queenslanders were fired up to defend the trophy they claimed last year but met equally resolute resistance in the form of New South Wales Country.

Batting first, the Blues posted 117, all out in the final over with several balls to spare.

Given the Sunshine State had racked up the highest scores of any side during the competition, including 160-plus versus the CA Development XI, the chase seemed achievable. Despite using every ball of their 20 overs, the mighty maroons could only manage 9/109.

“We played really well,” understandably shattered vice-captain Ellie Johnston said.

“Some things just didn’t go our way.”

The national tournament’s second highest runs scorer and Ipswich Hornets Raymont Shield skipper said the Queenslanders were undone by a couple of brilliant pieces of fielding.

“They took their chances,” Johnston said.

“You either take them or you don’t. They took a couple of screamers. They were just unbelievable catches. I would say they were 80/20, so you would put them down 80 per cent of the time. We had a couple like that but we couldn’t hang onto them.”

Johnston said up to 10 members of the side would be eligible next year and the maroons would be hellbent on exacting revenge.

“I think we just lacked a bit of maturity in key moments,” she said.

“We are still a young side. There are nine or ten of us who can come back next year, so now that we have all played together we should be very competitive next year.”

Johnston said appearing at Tasmania’s premier cricket venue was an amazing experience.

“The facilities were astonishing,” she said.

“Getting ready in the Hobart Hurricanes’ change rooms was pretty cool. I’m glad we had that opportunity.”

Beaten but not demoralised, she said the loss only fuelled the group’s desire to clinch the one-day title, which began yesterday with Queensland taking on the CA XI.

“Everybody took it to heart that we didn’t bring it (the trophy) back,” she said.

“We are pumped to get out there and win some games. Hopefully, we can make the grand final and get another chance to show everyone what we can do.”

The three-strong Ipswich contingent has been among the state’s best. Johnston has led the way with the willow, while off-spinning cousin Ruth has been the pick of the bowlers, taking several pivotal scalps and generally being stingy. Keeper Kira Holmes has been solid with the bat, outstanding when used in the field and a valued source of support for teammates. After spending the first week in Hobart, the team travels to Launceston today ahead of games against NSW Metro, Tasmania and NT.