Trio Chasing A Fitting Final Farewell
22 March 2017  

A trio of First Grade legends are expected to say goodbye to Premier Cricket this weekend, with the Grand Final the perfect platform to farewell stalwarts Michael Swart, James Boyland and Alex Malcolm.

Joondalup duo Boyland and Swart simply cannot give anymore to the Centurions lineup. After a combined 400 First Grade matches, 29 five-wicket hauls and 16 centuries, the stalwarts will likely give club cricket away, with plenty of flags and individual honours between them.

Equally, Malcolm will exit Subiaco Floreat with a similar legacy, a batsman able to stand up when it counted. The top-order player, who will head to Melbourne at season’s end, has hammered more than 5000 First Grade runs and claimed three premierships, with an ambition for a fourth.

Joondalup captain Swart, 34, cannot speak highly enough of his teammate, with his captain-coach role made remarkably easier courtesy of having the bowling experience and talent of Boyland at his disposal.

"Five hundred wickets, you can’t just replace that overnight,” Swart says. "He has been a legend of our club and the best club cricketer I have played with.

"What makes him so good is he knows when it is a big occasion, he knows when to step up. Every time the pressure is on, he is the man I throw the ball to.

"Losing someone of that caliber would be a huge loss for the club.”

Former WA and Netherlands batsman Swart believes winning this weekend would be the perfect way to exit First Grade cricket, remembering the difficult times to begin his career and the focus he now has for success.

"Going out in a final would be the icing on the cake for myself and Jimmy,” he explains.

"A lot of years ago we started there and used to get thrashed, it wasn’t a nice feeling. To go out winning one would be a special way to go for both of us.”

Leaving Joondalup will be a challenging experience for both Boyland and Swart, with majority of their lives spent at Iluka Sports Complex, playing cricket and making friends for life.

"That club is my life, there is no other way to say it,” Swart reflects.

"We train twice a week, play there on weekends, socialize with mates and best friends; we go there most nights of the week.

"It isn’t a club to me, it is a home and when it does finish it will be quite hard to leave the place.”

While retirement isn’t Malcolm’s main motivation, his move to Melbourne will see him finish up at Subiaco Floreat, with coach Dermot Reeve reflecting on the impact the veteran has had on all players at the club.

"He is such a good player and such a good bloke,” Reeve says. "Obviously he will be incredibly tough to replace next season.”

Reeve believes Malcolm has brought a sense of professionalism and knowledge not seen before at Floreat Park Oval, with his interaction with players and coaches a skill that will be missed.

"He is really important for us, as important as anybody,” Reeve says.

"What he brings to the side on game day with his ability, but also what he does at training with the younger players.

"He is always willing to have a chat and talk to anyone about batting. He is a terrific clubman.”

Finding an individual to replace Malcolm will prove difficult, with his underlying determination and talent nearly impossible to replicate.

"It will be difficult for anybody to come in and produce the runs at the top of the order,” Reeve says.

"Alex has produced season in and season out, so it will leave a hole in the side.

"Certainly it gives an opportunity for someone else, but it will be challenging shoes to fill.”

Play commences in the Alcohol.Think Again Premier Cricket Grand Final from 10.30am on Saturday at the WACA Ground.

-Elliot Raiter