Season-saving draw for the Sharks





THE penultimate round of the Latrobe Valley District Cricket League Premier A season was played over the weekend.

A Saturday/Sunday arrangement was scheduled, in what served as a precursor to what players will be exposed to come finals.

SHE was tough going at George Cain Oval.

Churchill and Moe both found batting conditions treacherous, but in the end, local knowledge won the day.

The Cobras prevailed by 39 runs on first innings, in a match that saw 20 wickets fall for only 169 runs.

Sensing the need to have 11 eyes seeing how the wicket played up close, the Lions elected to bowl after winning the toss.

Cobra openers Matt Harvey and Ric Velardi made a cautious approach, while Moe new ball bowlers Clinton Taylor and Royce Colgrave bowled unchanged for 14 overs.

The pair took the first four wickets between them to leave Churchill 4/28.

Wickets continued to fall, and before too long, the home side was 7/43.

Callum Grant turned into Ravi Jadeja, nabbing the key wicket of John Keighran lbw, following up by getting Kian Farnworth in the same fashion.

Joey Whykes withstood most deliveries that came his way, and was able to scratch out a fighting 45 to take the score into triple figures.

Whykes combined with Harry Van Rossum for a 39-run partnership for the eighth wicket, which in the context of the conditions, was probably worth twice as many.

Whykes became Grant’s third wicket, leaving him with figures of 3/17.

Colgrave was the other Moe bowler to strike three times, and ended with 3/22.

The Cobras were bowled out in 55.2 overs, meaning there was still plenty of time left in the day.

With the pitch well-worn by now, Churchill had plenty to work with, and they certainly capitalised.

Moe openers Riley Baldi and Noah Kane made a decent start in fairness, getting to 23 before the wicket of Baldi set off a dramatic collapse.

Kurt Holt had both openers in his pocket, which paved the way for Keighran to join the party.

The pair decimated the Lions, who lost 6/9 to be staring down the gun-barrel at stumps.

Returning the next day, the game was as good as gone, and at 6/32, Moe only added 33 runs, to be all out for 65.

Holt was the wrecker, taking 4/29 off 14 overs.

Keighran finished with 2/7 and Chris Williams 2/4.

Keighran also took two catches, in what possibly told the story of the day, as seven of the 10 wickets to fall were either bowled or lbw.

Churchill batted a further 24 overs in their second dig, getting to 4/69 before the match was called.

Grant continued to find purchase, adding a further three wickets to his tally.

OKAY, Latrobe clearly doesn’t want to get relegated to the pleb league.

As they say, the right thing to do isn’t always the most popular.

The Sharks certainly went down the unpopular path on Sunday, blocking out for a draw against Raiders.

Set 285 to win, Latrobe negotiated the best part of 90 overs to deny Raiders six points.

While the tactic might not have been a great endorsement for the game, it was smart play on the Sharks part once they realised their chances of winning were pretty well diminished.

Securing a draw and taking three points meant their season stayed alive for at least for another week – had they lost, it would have been all over.

Playing at Yinnar, the home side recovered from an indifferent start, that saw two of their top three fall for globes.

Ben Burrows dug in for a defiant 34, but it was skipper Liam Maynard that rescued the innings.

In what ended up being a weekend that saw the Liams spend plenty of time at the crease, this one scored a fine 132 not out.

He combined with Mick Higgins, putting on 197 for the fifth wicket.

Higgins fell for 92 toward the end of the day, prompting Maynard to declare.

Latrobe’s bowlers toiled hard. Tyron Gamage had some success, snaring two wickets.

The Sharks suffered two early losses in reply, and then set about defending as much as Sunday as it could.

Steven Freshwater was just the man for the job; he soaked up 96 balls, as usual big-hitting Zimbabwean Ronnie Chokununga had to contain himself.

Runs were certainly not the issue for Latrobe. When captain Benn Zomer was dismissed the score was 4/95, but from a Shark perspective, he was dismissed at the 47.4 over mark.

With 40 or so overs still left in the day, Anu Meenakshi set about defending as if his life depended on it.

The left hander showed immense concentration, spending more than 30 overs at the crease.

Unbelievably, he saw off 98 balls and scored five runs.

Yes, five runs off 98 balls.

For Meenakshi, who has an A Grade ton to his name, this stoic hand might be remembered just as much as that.

The nervous 90s might only last a handful of balls – needing to bat to save a game can last anywhere up to three hours.

Chokununga meanwhile, was also playing steadily, although he did get the odd boundary away.

The opener ended up batting through the innings, and was not out on 102 when umpire Tony Flinn called time.

Chokununga faced 263 balls and hit 12 fours in his knock.

Raiders could do no more. Harry McColl sent down 20 overs and took 2/22, Madura Perera sent down 24 and took 2/38.

MORWELL pretty well finished CATS’ season.

CATS are still mathematically alive, although it is looking like it will take a minor miracle for them to make finals now.

The Tigers decided to bowl first at Keegan St, and ended up shooting CATS out for under 100.

Youngster Connor Seymour did a fantastic job with the new ball, taking the first three wickets to fall.

He knocked over left hander Jamie Cochrane, before snaring Josh Moore for a third-ball duck.

Seymour then experienced the great thrill of seeing the back of former first class player Cal Stewart caught behind. Seymour drew Stuart forward, but he appeared to be in two-minds about whether or not to play the ball.

From there, Morwell off spinner Ross Whelpdale was able to come into the game.

Whelpdale took 4/30 off 18.4 overs with eight maidens, while the reaming wickets were shared among Brendan Brincat, Blake Mills and Mark Cukier.

With 97 the initial target, Morwell got there with relative ease, losing six wickets on the run home, going at a reasonable rate.

The Tigers’ depth has been a hallmark this season. Emphasising this depth was number eight Greg Harvey, who top-scored with 58, along with Brincat who made 33 batting at seven.

Captain Jordan Campbell played a steady hand of 44, while Brendan Mason made 26 in his first game as a Morwell A Grader.

The home side compiled 224.

Stewart and Vaughan Penrose took three wickets each for CATS.

CATS then played a pretty pointless second innings, seeing off 24 overs for a score of 0/75.

Josh Keyhoe got some runs under his belt, bumping the average up with 40 not out.