It’s been a long time since a CYMS captain has faced a dilemma like the one Ben Knaggs is currently dealing with.
The perennial cellar-dwellers moved into a share of top spot on the RSL-Whitney Cup ladder when edging out South Dubbo in an enthralling and low-scoring one-day clash at No. 1 Oval on Saturday.
It was a victory which highlighted the new-found depth within the club.
Sixteen-year-old Gilbert Chaseling showed maturity beyond his years when making a vital 14 not out late in the piece as CYMS reached the target of 147 with just two wickets in hand and four overs to spare.
Chaseling wasn’t originally in the side for the match but with Ben O’Donnell and Matt Ellis both unavailable and Nathan Hawke a late withdrawal, Knagss was forced into some changes shortly before play.
Chaseling took his opportunity, taking a wicket and guiding his side to the total, and Knaggs admitted it will be hard to drop the young all-rounder after such a performance.
“I think for the past couple of years CYMS has just been chucking people up in first grade because we couldn’t fill spots but this year we’re having trouble picking a side,” Knaggs said, referring to the competition for spots.
“But its’s really good and shows the depth of the club and the juniors coming through and that’s awesome.
“Performances like Gilbert’s today can show the juniors what to do.”
The match had seemed like it was going to be a convincing CYMS victory after a fine display of consistent and disciplined bowling.
After being sent into bat the Hornets were restricted to 2-64 at the 20-over halfway point and things were looking dire when Corey McDean (39) departed and the middle order offered little resistance.
At 8-105 it seemed things would be all over quickly but Lachlan Rayner (23) and the tail produced a display of rearguard action to help the Hornets post 147.
It still appeared that total wouldn’t pose too much of a threat to the Cougars powerful batting lineup but it was anything but.
Rayner and opening bowling partner Rajat Rai both struck, the former taking the key wickets of Brock Larance (29) and Ben Strachan (9) on his way to finishing with 3-19.
Skipper Mitch Bower (1-22) also got in on the act and CYMS was in real trouble when it was reduced to 6-74.
Stuart Naden, batting in the lower order due to illness, showed tremendous fight when making a vital 28 and while he fell late, an important 19 from Bailey Edmunds and Chaseling’s mature knock got the Cougars home.
“This was bloody awesome,” Knaggs said of the win.
“To be five for not many and to have the lower order dig in and come back and win that game, I thought it was a huge effort.”
Much had been made of Strachan’s stellar start to the season – a century and a five wicket haul in the opening two rounds – and while he did remove Bower with a peach of a delivery that jagged back a mile, his influence was limited.
“Strachany has really held us together and been a backbone but today showed the whole team as one can really put in a performance and win games, which is good to see,” Knaggs said, before again praising Chaseling.
“Gilbert came in and really performed well.
“He was a late-call up but I’m glad we put him in there. He got a wicket and got some very handy runs at the end, which we needed. He had a cool head and I think he’ll be a cricketer for us in the future, for sure.”
CYMS sit at the top of the ladder with RSL-Colts on 17 points while Newtown is a further two points back in third.
CYMS faces the Tigers and then Colts in what shapes as a massive next two rounds.
“The team is in a great spot,” Knaggs said.
“We hadn’t won many games in the last few years and had been struggling but it’s good to see the boys going out there, fighting in every game, bowling to a plan, and batting with a sensible head on their shoulders.”
While confidence is high in the CYMS camp, Souths remains at the foot of the ladder without a win to its name after three rounds.