“The best game I’ve ever played in”, was how Queanbeyan captain Blake Dean summed up his side’s incredible six-run victory in last Sunday’s John Gallop Cup one-day grand final at Manuka Oval.
It’s a big call from a player involved in each of Queanbeyan’s record setting four premiership campaigns in 2011/12.
But there’s no doubt there was something particularly special about the club’s most recent triumph.
Having set Tuggeranong just 136 to win, Queanbeyan produced an inspired bowling display to roll the South Canberra club for just 130 with five overs to spare.
And Dean - who left Queanbeyan to join Tuggeranong in 2012 only to return to the Bluebags this season - was clearly emotional as the final Vikings wicket fell, acknowledging he was “nearly in tears” after overcoming his former teammates.
“Hands down that’s the best game I’ve ever played in,” Dean said. “Even though it wasn’t the best wicket out there, it was so tight and both teams just played outstanding cricket.
“I played for them last year so I know how much that must have hurt as well. It was a bit of a strange place to be [personally]…but just an unbelievable game. It nearly deserved a tie to be honest but obviously we got over the line at the end.
Dean was full of praise for his troops following the come-from-behind victory while also paying tribute to Tuggeranong’s bowling attack that effectively neutralised Queanbeyan’s powerful batting order.
“Tuggeranong fielded and bowled the house down…it was a master class,” Dean said.
“It took absolute guts for our boys to get up but we believed the whole way and came out and bowled outstanding.
“Obviously they were on top [after the first innings] but the thing about Bluebaggers is we always stick together. We’ve played a lot of cricket as a group and we never let our heads drop, we always keep our heads up and that’s how it goes.”
The victory marks Queanbeyan’s return to the top of the Cricket ACT standings after a disappointing 2012/13 season that saw the club go without a first-grade trophy for the first time since 2009.