Maher exorcises demons in Pura Cup final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Maher exorcises demons in Pura Cup final

28/03/2006 06:13:28 PM Comments (0)

A jubilant Jimmy Maher struggled to keep his emotions in check after he exorcised his finals demons by leading Queensland to its sixth Pura Cup/Sheffield Shield title.

For the first time as skipper, Maher, 32, could finally say he had held aloft a trophy from an Australian domestic competition after failing in his previous five attempts.

The pain that lingered from those defeats was quickly forgotten as the Bulls romped to an emphatic innings and 354 run triumph over arch-rivals Victoria at the Gabba.

Maher slammed down the first beer in what is sure to be a lengthy week of celebrations and declared after the match: "Those losses make victory that much sweeter."

He would know.

Two years ago, Maher and Queensland were handed a crushing innings defeat by the Bushrangers at the MCG when they decided to bat the Bulls out of the game.

Victoria scored 710 over the better part of three days as they made the most of an insipidly flat wicket after being sent in by Maher.

Tuesday's victory was sweet revenge after Queensland had earlier posted a record-breaking first innings total of 6(dec)-900 that lasted 242 overs and kept Victoria in the field for more than 16 hours.

Four players - Maher (223), Shane Watson (201no), Clinton Perren (173) and Martin Love (169) - made tons.

"We'll never forget that day in Melbourne," Maher said.

"We copped it left, right and centre ... We were cooked. That day in Melbourne I said I knew what it felt like to be a real bull because all we did was look at grass.

"They ran into a Queensland side (this time) that was hungrier than you've ever seen. The last side that was this hungry was in 1994-95 and we'd never won it then."

Victoria was finally put out of its misery by Andy Bichel at 1.57pm (AEST) when it was bowled out in its second innings for 202.

The carnage was registered as the Bushrangers' worst ever defeat in the state's proud 115-year history in Australian first class cricket.

"It definitely hurts," said Victorian skipper Cameron White.

Maher's double century earned the former Australian one-day opener man-of-the-match honours despite a late surge by promising fast bowler Mitchell Johnson.

Johnson became a one man wrecking ball during Victoria's second innings and took 6-51 to finish with 10 wickets for the match.

Leg-spinner Daniel Doran claimed 3-33 as the Bushrangers' batsmen floundered on a pitch that started to play tricks.

Maher was again forced to defend his stand of not declaring earlier after the Bulls became just the first team in 80 years to reach 900 runs in an innings in Australia.

"Any one who's had a go at us is uneducated," he said.

"Surely they can't think we were that stupid (to not want to win the match outright).

"We still set ourselves 116, 115 overs to bowl (after the declaration) and I had Ashley Noffke, who lost four kilos in three days - couldn't get out of bed, Shane Watson had done his calf, did they want me to go out and give them 100 runs on a platter?

"We set out to play this game like a normal Pura Cup match. The only difference was we got 900 in 240 overs."

The Innisfail product dedicated his innings and the victory - the biggest in a Pura Cup/Sheffield Shield final - to the victims of Cyclone Larry, the severe storm that last week savaged far north Queensland.

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