Centrals cruise to outright





SAYING this jokingly, but does the Bureau of Meteorology ever get it right?

Players in the Latrobe Valley District Cricket League were bracing for a possible abandonment last Saturday, after the temperature was forecast to hit 38 degrees.

As it turned out, weather conditions barely got past mild, and all matches went ahead.

While you would no doubt have to be smarter than a country newspaper journalist to work at the BoM, the way in which the day panned out made something of a mockery of their predictions.

In A Grade, there was no great surprises as results came to hand, but that didn’t mean there was no shortage of talking points.

MIRBOO NORTH defeated Jeeralang-Boolarra.

The Panthers ventured up to Mirboo North on Day 2 at 3/21, needing a further 162 runs with seven wickets in the shed.

Things never really got going for the visitors, who were bowled out for 126.

From their Day 1 predicament, Jeeralang-Boolarra fell further behind in the game, as the Tigers’ bowlers struck at regular intervals.

The visitors added just three runs to their Day 1 score, before the first wicket fell.

From there, things unravelled even more.

Panthers captain Ben Heath was bowled by Dale Banks, leaving Jeeralang-Boolarra further in arrears at 5/38.

Heath appeared motionless and in a state of disbelief immediately after his dismissal, holding the sweep shot position for an extended period, contemplating just how on earth he had missed a ball he probably felt he had covered the whole way down.

The two other Bens, Duffy and McCormack, stayed in for a while, both seeing off more than 50 balls, before their exits essentially called curtains on any hopes Jeeralang-Boolarra might have had.

In fairness, McCormack was bowled by a perfectly-pitched off-break from Jed Alexander, which got through the tinniest of gaps to clip the top of leg stump.

If body language is anything to go by, McCormack graciously accepted his fate as he was walking off, most likely thinking “that was a pretty good ball”.

Sometime later, Duffy went out cutting a ball that was taken by wicket-keeper Dom Davis, giving young gun Max Woodall his third wicket.

Woodall followed up with a wicket straight after, meaning he was on a hat-trick.

The hat-trick ball was a play and miss, but Woodall needed not worry too much, as he completed his five-fa a short time later.

Banks secured victory for Mirboo North, getting the final wicket via a no-shot-offered lbw to see Jeeralang-Boolarra 57 runs short of where they needed to be.

The leg-spinner ended with 2/7, but it was Woodall who was the star-of-the-show. His final analysis read 5/41 off 22 overs with nine maidens.

Of those five, four were dismissals bowlers love to see, either bowled, lbw or knicked-off.

He delivered a rip-snorting delivery on Day 1, knocking middle stump out of the ground from around the wicket with a ball that angled in and swung away to a left hander.

CENTRALS were on the beers by 1pm.

Their opponents were as well, although the way in which the game ended meant all they were doing was drinking away their sorrows.

The Lions entered Day 2 with an outright firmly in sights against Traralgon West.

It did not take long for Centrals to achieve just that – only 24 overs in fact.

The Eagles were in all sorts of trouble at stumps on Day 1, falling to 4/21, still 48 runs short of making the Lions even bat again.

Things looked slightly okay at Apex Park for the visitors when they took the score to 4/50, but then the Lions pounced, and it was an almighty Eagle crash-landing.

Like Sia, Traralgon West fell to pieces, and were routed for just 63.

The Eagles’ scorecard resembled a phone number, as only a handful of players managed double-figures.

Centrals shared the love with the ball, with wickets distributed among four bowlers.

Joe Stuart took 3/9, making it eight wickets for the match, while Rob Webber finished with 3/22.

Corey Pollard took 2/7 and Marc Fenech 2/22 to help the cause.

The outright win was Centrals’ second consecutive by such a margin, and gave their percentage a considerable boost.

Top spot is potentially up for grabs when the Lions play Trafalgar this coming round.

IF you happened to spend last Saturday afternoon watching paint dry, that would probably have been more exciting than what unfolded at Trafalgar Recreation Reserve.

Trafalgar entered Day 2 against Willow Grove in a strong position, having the visitors 2/21 in pursuit of 289.

Deciding that task might have been beyond them, the Wolves set about batting out the day, and did a pretty good job of it.

Wilow Grove saw off close to 90 overs in total, 68 of which came on the second day.

For a side playing A Grade for the first time this season, to do that was every bit as good as a win.

While that might have been a positive for them, it certainly didn’t make for entertaining cricket.

Trafalgar ended up winning on first innings after bowling Willow Grove out for 146, but the way in which things panned out had some Trafalgar players labelling it “the most boring day of cricket ever played”.

Of the 86 overs bowled by the Ships, 38 were maidens.

Breaking it down even more, of the 526 balls Trafalgar bowled, 461 were dots (yes, I went back and counted them all).

That works out to 89 per cent of balls bowled by Trafalgar being either dots or wickets.

The Ships had men crowded around the bat as early as the 30th over, at which stage they had a short-leg, leg slip, silly mid off, silly mid on and a catching mid-wicket.

Entering the day, the Ships knew they would need to have Willow Grove bowled out by tea in order to set up an outright.

Trafalgar had the game pretty much where they wanted, as the Wolves were 8/74 at the main break.

Wanting to get the last two wickets as quickly as possible, the Ships clearly didn’t bet on Adam James and Liam Cumiskey putting on 58 for the ninth wicket.

The pair took the scoreboard out of the equation, and batted for the best part of a whole session after tea.

Their efforts not only denied Trafalgar the chance to bowl again, but also sent an ever-so-slight warning bell throughout the Ships’ camp.

Truthfully, as the partnership grew and time ticked away, there was an outside chance the Wolves were going to hold on for a draw.

James made 39, and managed to get some good shots away.

When he departed, there was 90 minutes left in the day, and a further 15 minutes was taken out by the time the last wicket fell.

Knowing the chances of getting 10 wickets in just over an hour were minimal at best, Trafalgar captain Aydan Connolly decided to call it.

Trafalgar’s bowlers got a decent workout, and had their figures well looked-after.

Rhys Holdsworth went past 200 A Grade wickets for Trafalgar, taking 3/18, while new-ball operators Zack Brown and Jackson Noonan took 2/27 and 2/41 respectively.

Given it felt like a five-day game, it was perhaps fitting the Ships wore their new two-day shirts. Trafalgar’s new shirts are somewhat reminiscent of what is seen in Test matches with numbers on the back.

On reflection, the Ships didn’t have too much cause for concern about not getting the outright.

To take 18 wickets in a day was always going to be a big ask, especially on a hard-deck. To win outright on a hard-deck you either need to bowl first or give yourself a day-and-a-half to bowl.

If anything, the day probably reiterated to Trafalgar that they don’t have an attack that is going to blast out opposition line-ups – so they need to remain patient and disciplined in the field.

For Willow Grove, last Saturday was another step in the right direction.

Understandably, those steps have been baby steps this season, but the Wolves appear to be a group that is under no illusions where they are at.

Speaking to a Willow Grove official on Saturday, he said they had been ticking off small-wins along the way, such as batting their full overs in a one-dayer, and now, batting a full day in a two-dayer.

The Wolves can give both those items a big tick, and could even give themselves bonus points when you consider they have (by their own admission) essentially been coaching themselves how to play A Grade.

Willow Grove should now be confident they can at least defend, which could help them drastically moving forward.

If football coaching is anything to go by, every coach seems to think team success stems from defence.

There is a saying: “Offence fills your grandstand, defence fills your trophy cabinet”.

I prefer this one though: “Batsman sell memberships, bowlers win premierships”.