IT WASN’T just their Cooma opposition that Kyabram Fire Brigade players overcame on the weekend to book a place in the Goulburn Murray Cricket Grand Final.
They had another battle on their hands – and it came in the form of gastro.
Word came through on early Saturday morning that star Fire Brigade batsman Paul Newman had been struck down by the illness overnight, and looked unlikely to play.
With Fire Brigade winning the toss and electing to bat, Jack Donnell moved to the top of the order to replace Newman – who still hadn’t arrived at the ground.
As the Fire Brigade innings moved along, it seemed increasingly unlikely that Newman would be able to bat.
However, after text messages back and forth with captain Daniel Kent, Newman decided he would come down to the ground and attempt to bat at number seven.
Newman arrived and parked his car on the opposite side of the ground. He got kitted up in his car and waited for the next wicket to fall, trying his best to not come in contact with any Fire Brigade players.
When Kent was dismissed about halfway through the Fire Brigade innings, Newman joined Mick Mattingly at the crease.
Looking sluggish and worse for wear, it seemed Newman might be in for a short cameo – how wrong that was.
The left hander combined with Mattingly for a partnership worth over 150 runs – in which Newman hit 106.
The pair didn’t engage between overs, with Mattingly not keen to miss the next day’s play.
It was an incredible innings. Newman repeatedly hit huge sixes over the channel next to the Northern Oval – and while players fetched the ball he got some rest by lying on the ground.
Once Newman reached 106, he retired, walking to his car and driving home.
While the players might have thought they had escaped the contagious nature of the bug, they were wrong.
Sam Kershaw couldn’t take the field on Sunday, the gastro hit him overnight.
And about 20 overs into Cooma’s innings, Henry Charlton was visibly sick while fielding at square leg.
Another fielder was forced to leave the ground when Cooma were nine wickets down.
With Fire Brigade set to face Rochester United in this week’s decider, they’ll be hoping it’s the last they see of the gastro.