Sutherland have broken their almost decade-long title drought with the Sharks crowned the NSW Premier Cricket Twenty20 Cup champions.
Sutherland downed local rivals St George in the Sydney Sixers conference final on Sunday morning at the Sydney Cricket Ground before backing up to defeat Sydney University in the final on Sunday night.
The Sharks, who had fallen at the preliminary final stage of last season’s competition, now advance to the inaugural National Premier T20 Championships in Adelaide in March as they attempt to be crowned national champions.
Led by former Australia Test captain Steve Smith Sutherland were dominant on Sunday, scoring comprehensive victories over Saints and the Students.
While the Sharks had a number of stand out individual performances, it was the calmness and control of Smith that saw Sutherland take home the only trophy that had eluded them as a club back to Glenn McGrath Oval.
Smith’s experience playing at the SCG for NSW and Australia proved vital. Not just with bat in hand but as Smith masterfully made the most of his side’s slow bowling with subtle field placements to restrict their opponents to mediocre totals.
Smith won the toss in the final and, as had successfully worked for Sutherland throughout the tournament, sent the Students in to bat.
Sydney Uni opener Hayden Kerr gave his side a strong start, smashing 40 from just 25 balls.
But an outstanding bowling performance from young leg spinner Daniel Fallins (3-22) and paceman Tom Pinson (2-12) saw Sutherland restrict Uni to just 122 as they were bowled out on the final ball of their innings.
Jake Wilson (1-28), Tom Doyle (2-38), Smith (1-19) and Daniel Rixon (1-2) were Sutherland’s other wicket takers.
Sharks openers Jarryd Biviano (12) and Peter Saroukos (15) took advantage of the power play to get Sutherland off to a rapid start in their run chase.
Smith looked well in control before he knicked a Ben Joy delivery through to Uni wicketkeeper Tim Cummins, falling for 19 to leave Sutherland 3-50.
Doyle went shortly after for 10 which saw Austin Waugh join Jamie Brown at the crease. The pair put on 43 to reaffirm Sutherland’s dominance as the pair edged their way towards victory.
Waugh was eventually dismissed for 15, bringing his NSW Metro under-19s teammate Aiden Barriol into the game as he smashed 14 from just six balls.
But it was Brown who was the hero with the bat, anchoring the innings as wickets fell around him to guide the Sharks to victory. The left-hander hit former Sharks spinner Devlin Malone for two giant sixes into the Ladies’ Stand as he finished 35 not out from as many balls.
Earlier on Sunday, Sutherland had restricted St George to 8-112 in the preliminary final again thanks to their slow bowling.
Kurtis Patterson (26) was a surprise inclusion for Saints, only for the NSW batsman to fall to Fallins with the help of an incredible Waugh catch.
Smith controlled the run chase, finishing 42 not out as Sutherland won by six wickets with two overs to spare.