Three innings in one day at Apex

LIAM DURKIN

CRICKET

 

LVDCL A GRADE

 

By LIAM DURKIN

 

EQUATIONS seem straightforward as teams prepare to enter Day 2 of the Latrobe Valley District Cricket League in A Grade.

 

A couple of games appear set-up for outrights, while another looks set to be a relatively competitive spectacle.

 

PICKING a winner between Mirboo North and Jeeralang-Boolarra is something you can’t do with a great degree of certainty.

 

As it stands, the Panthers need 162 runs with seven wickets in hand.

 

When written like that, the scales may be tipped in Jeeralang-Boolarra’s favour, but at club level, where the drop in quality of the batting order can be quite dramatic, and the pressure to chase intensified, the odds could be with the Tigers.

 

Mirboo North elected to bat first on Day 1 at home, and ended with 183 on the board.

 

A 78-run opening stand between Dale Banks and Brett Pedlow laid a solid foundation. Pedlow scored an innings-high 69, while Banks contributed 26. Banks, primarily in the side as a leg spinner, has shown his versatility in recent weeks, going out to open the batting.

 

The Panthers got into the game after the first breakthrough, and took wickets at semi-regular intervals from there.

 

Ben Heath was the destroyer, taking 6/33 off 17.5 overs with seven maidens.

 

His confidence should be up when he goes into bat this Saturday, and his output could have a huge bearing on the result.

 

Declan Gregor also bowled well for Jeeralang-Boolarra, and took 2/37 off 16.

 

Having bowled without luck against Trafalgar in the previous game, Gregor’s return acted as some justice.

 

The Panthers had 14 overs to get through before stumps.

 

Unfortunately for them, they lost three more wickets than they would have wanted. Liam Smith, Navod Edirisinghe and Kanishja Ranthilakage could be doing a lot of sitting around this week.

 

Theoretically, Jeeralang-Boolarra should get the required runs if they bat the 85 or so overs on Day 2, but for skipper Heath, getting this message through to the line-up might be his biggest challenge.

 

While the Panthers have no shortage of players that can get hold of a few, many are either four or nothing, which should present the Tigers with plenty of wicket-taking opportunities.

 

Mirboo North captain Jed Alexander comes in this week, and is expected to bowl a good quantity of overs.

 

CENTRALS is on track to secure an outright.

 

The Lions have already won on first innings, and Traralgon West is already batting again.

 

The Eagles need to score 48 runs without losing six wickets just to make Centrals bat again.

 

After winning the toss at Apex Park, Centrals injected the Eagles, who were quickly in all sorts of strife at 4/7.

 

Marc Fenech and Rob Webber had the ball bending around corners, and took two wickets each on the opening onslaught.

 

From there, pace-off was called for, and spinner Joe Stuart came to life, taking five of the last six wickets to fall.

 

The Englishman has enjoyed a great fortnight, taking a seven-fa and now a five-fa.

 

You will generally find it takes most internationals until after Christmas to get use to Australian conditions. It would appear Stuart has now found his feet.

 

Eagle’s veteran Brenton Howe played a stoic hand of 45 off 95 balls, which included a six, which made up a good portion of Traralgon West’s total of 73.

 

If conditions were in favour of the bowlers, Centrals certainly made a mockery of them.

 

The Lions smashed 142 in 31.5 overs before declaring.

 

Traralgon West opened with spin turning in opposite directions, giving Rhys Falla and Adam Thow the new ball to try and turn a few into and away from the right-hander respectively.

 

Ethan Foley clubbed an unbeaten 70, while Webber and Tye Hourigan made 38 and 32.

 

The start to the Eagles’ second innings was almost a carbon copy of their first, as they sank to 4/16.

 

Once again, Webber and Fenech combined for a couple of new-ball wickets each, and will be looking to add to their collection on Day 2.

 

Traralgon West is in all sorts of trouble at 4/21, and in great danger of losing by an innings.

 

When things go wrong, they go horrendously wrong.

 

TRAFALGAR put up a good score against Willow Grove.

 

The Ships were asked to have a hit, and set about making the most of the opportunity to bat on their hard deck with plenty of runs on offer.

 

Left-handers Liam White and Rhys Holdsworth put on 92 for the second wicket, with the former scoring 27.

 

Trafalgar captain Aydan Connolly joined his predecessor, and took the side into tea in a strong position at 2/173.

 

Holdsworth scored a virtually chanceless century before tea, in what was his 10th for the Ships, putting him equal-fourth on the club record.

 

In a nice touch, he was able to bring up the milestone in front of four generations of family.

 

Connolly departed for 26, before sending the message to the rest of the order to start swinging.

 

Holdsworth continued on, going past 150 to eventually post 154 – his highest score at Trafalgar Recreation Reserve.

 

Jackson Noonan played an attacking hand of 28 off 20 balls, sending five balls to the fence.

 

The Ships declared at 9/288, making the call at the last drinks break so they didn’t lose any time.

 

Former Trafalgar player David Bremner played his first game for Willow Grove, and took 2/28, along with Josh Hammond (2/11), Liam Cumiskey (2/40) and Darcy Walsh (2/54).

 

Leg-spinner Walsh again impressed, and at just 14-years-of-age, there is plenty of upside for the youngster. Given leg spin is the hardest craft to master, Walsh could well be bamboozling opponents in a few years’ time. Don’t forget, Warnie went for 150 on debut.

 

The Wolves had 19 overs to negotiate before stumps, and are 2/21 heading into Day 2.

 

Trafalgar’s time in the field was highlighted by Oliver Hennessy taking his first A Grade wicket, after delivering a ball that came back in to take off stump.

 

Things would have certainly been different for Hennessy had he not got his hands up to stop a return catch in the nets at training during the week. The ball was literally millimetres from smashing all his front teeth out and sending his braces flying. (How would his poor mother have gone after that).

 

Back to the game, the Ships will look to make early inroads this Saturday, and have an immediate job at hand before thinking too far ahead.

 

While some might look at the scorecard and say the Ships have an outright in the making, getting 18 wickets in a day is a tough task in anyone’s language.

 

Last Saturday presented a few opportunities to reflect, in what was, amazingly, for many longstanding Trafalgar players, the first time they had ever played against Willow Grove.

 

It may come as a surprise to learn that Trafalgar and Willow Grove entered discussions just a little over 10 years ago about potentially joining forces.

 

The plan was to have the best players from either club play for Trafalgar in A Grade, and social players play for Willow Grove in C Grade.

 

While that never quite came through, to now have two teams from a small and relatively small town competing in A Grade, you would have to say is a good thing.

 

The Wolves didn’t look totally out of their depth on Saturday, and in fairness to them, caught everything that came their way.

 

Making the step up from B Grade however requires more than just skill level. For instance, most A Grade players are taught to keep an eye on the captain after every ball, but on a few occasions, Willow Grove skipper Pete Grima was seen signalling to players to move positions slightly, only for him to then need to call out, thus defeating the purpose of a subtle field change.

 

Little things like that probably don’t matter too much in B Grade, but in A Grade, they can be the difference between getting a wicket or not.

 

That being said, Willow Grove players looked to be fostering a fun environment in the field – and that is not the worst approach to have.

 

Richmond won three flags just by having fun.