Final over heart stopper

Got him: Gippsland's unluckiest bowler Jackson Noonan celebrates a change in fortune for Trafalgar alongside captain Aydan Connolly. photographs liam durkin





HOW good are hard decks.

While there was no Premier A matches in Round 5 of the Latrobe Valley and District Cricket League, (owing to a by-law that says that grade must be played on turf), there was three matches completed in A Grade.

Of the three, one was especially significant, as Willow Grove of the modern era finally played their first match in A Grade.

It was the first time the Wolves had fielded an A Grade side since 1986 – 13,398 days to be precise (thanks to local history buff Mark Smith, always producing nuggets of gold like that).

Moreover, the Wolves’ match against Traralgon West was played at Rawson. The last time an A Grade match was played at Dunstan Oval was season 2001/02 when Rawson competed in A Grade.

Traralgon West elected to bat first upon winning the toss, and had a good spread of contributors in a total of 4/284.

Runs came from Salman Rasool, who top scored on 76, as well as Rob Wilkie (49), Ben Edebohls (40), Josh Monacella (39 not out) and Hayden Kimpton (34).

The short boundaries at Rawson meant runs flowed, and Willow Grove was forced to try and stem the bleeding.

Peter Grima had the distinction of taking the Wolves’ first wicket back in A Grade, and the veteran also executed a run out as well.

The chase was unsuccessful for Willow Grove, however, the side was well served by Nathan Weatherhead who made 37 and Josh Hammond with 29.

The Wolves were bowled out for 129, although on a positive they did get through 46.5 overs, which could provide a good platform to build on.

The Willow Grove line-up included Mirboo North premiership player Callum Polo, who along with Grima, should bring some good ideas to the table.

Off spinner Reece Falla was the pick of the bowlers for the Eagles, taking 2/20 from 10 overs.

Darcy Cooke also chimed in, claiming 3/26.

MIRBOO NORTH won a thriller against Centrals.

The match at the recently renamed Mercer-McKenzie Turf Wicket came down to the last over.

The Tigers decided to bowl first after winning the toss, and made full use of the new ball, reducing Centrals to 3/13.

From there, Lions skipper Tye Hourigan and Mark Rawson got to work stabilising the situation, and put on 95 for the fourth wicket.

Hourigan was the first to go, making 36, while Rawson continued on, getting to 69 before falling with the score on 144.

While he dearly would have loved a few more, Centrals officials will be hoping Rawson’s effort sets the tone for his season.

In recent years, his batting has offered a bit of a conundrum, with the hard-hitter often described by opponents as someone who ‘makes the best looking 30s you’ve ever seen’, before just going out against the run of play.

Sam Gray made a handy 27 not out toward the end, as Centrals got their total to 179.

Youngster Max Woodall bowled well for Mirboo North, taking 2/24.

The Tigers’ looked on track secure an easy victory, after Brett Pedlow and Zac Hollis put on 92 for the opening stand. The latter made 47 and the former 41.

However, the pair was dismissed only six runs beside each other, which halted momentum.

Corey Pollard saw the back of the two openers, while at the other end Hourigan took over.

The skipper grabbed the next two wickets, sending Mirboo North into panic as they fell from 2/98 to 4/117

A third scalp a little while later for Hourigan had the Tigers precariously placed at 5/161.

Mirboo North allrounder Will Cheatley had provided a calm head while all this was going in, making 28 off 22 balls, but when he fell the Tigers still needed 13 to win with four wickets in hand.

Hourigan kept pushing, and took another two poles to make it a five-for.

At 8/175 there was still a chance for the Lions, and when the game went to the final over, Mirboo North needed two to win.

Anton Thomas became the hero for Mirboo North, steering the winning runs and a huge sigh of relief for all wearing the yellow and black.

Hourigan got one for the mantle, ending with 5/32 and possibly three league votes – an always commendable effort for someone on the losing side.

In a match that featured a number of momentum changes, there was one constant by the end – they do always make things interesting at Mirboo North.

TRAFALGAR had a solid win against Jeeralang-Boolarra.

The Panthers batted first and compiled 165 from their allotted overs.

Asanka Ranthilakage scored 52 at the top, negotiating a tricky period when Jeeralang-Boolarra slumped to 2/14.

Once the white ball stopped swinging, the Panthers were able to knock the ball around and then open up toward the end.

Nila Thillekarathna made 38 and received good support from Ben McCormack, who made an enterprising 32.

A late flurry of wickets came for Trafalgar, as openers Jackson Noonan and Zack Brown bookended their spells by taking some poles.

Noonan snared 3/39 and Brown 2/21.

Young quick Owen McLeod-Agland was miserly, going for just seven runs in five overs.

Fellow youngster Olly Hennessy finally made his A Grade debut. It has been a whirlwind journey for Hennessy, who was picked to play in the first back in January, only to have to withdraw due to COVID, and then saw the first four weeks of this season abandoned.

With 166 to chase, Jeeralang-Boolarra would have felt reasonably confident given 130 at Trafalgar is generally a competitive score around this time of year.

Looking at equations in local cricket often brings into play a range of variables, such as the season, value for shots, or if there has been a swap meet on the ground the week before.

Applying what locals call the ‘Traf total’ to calculations, a par score differs greatly in November to February.

It is generally a different story at Traf after Christmas – the ball races across the outfield.

Left handers Liam White and Rhys Holdsworth put on 76 for the second wicket, putting the Ships into a good position.

White made 36 opening up, while Holdsworth made a game-high 75.

Trafalgar passed the required total in the 44th over, as skipper Aydan Connolly saw the side over the line with an unbeaten 24.

Tom Holley took 2/39 for Jeeralang-Boolarra.

PREMIER A games did not go ahead, as conditions left grounds unplayable.

Not wanting to waste sunny weather, a quick glance from the highway saw Morwell players hard at work training on Saturday morning.

The Tigers take on Raiders this Saturday. Churchill plays CATS and Latrobe hosts Moe.

Willow Grove is playing Centrals, Trafalgar is hosting Mirboo North and Jeeralang-Boolarra is home to Traralgon West.

Skipper: Jeeralang-Boolarra captain Ben Heath prepares to clip the ball through midwicket against Trafalgar.