Ellinbank sets the tone

Sam Van Der Zalm, Dale Weller, Jake Harper and Paul Timewell stayed ready in the slips cordon for Drouin. 186787 Pictures: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Russell Bennett

WDCA DIVISION 1

REVIEW – ROUND 4 (DAY ONE)

Ellinbank is particularly well-poised after the first day’s play of its WDCA Division 1 clash with Jindivick at Kydd-Park Reserve.

The top-of-the-table side boasts the competition’s two leading run-scorers so far in Troy Ferguson (22) and Matt Farthing (33) and they both made starts on Saturday that had the Eagles well placed from the outset.

With Ferguson’s dismissal at 1/37, skipper Ben Spicer strode to the wicket and had a telling impact – recording his first half-century for the club since making the switch from West Gippsland Cricket Association Premier division powerhouse, and reigning champion, Kooweerup.

But despite his eventual dismissal for 56 by another former premiership winner at Kooweerup, spinner Dananja Madushanka, the visitors were still able to launch from the platform already set.

Nick Fairbank (54) also added his own half-century from the middle-order, while Sean Masterson added 40 and Nathan Pulham (20) in their first innings for the season. Jeremy Gray (19) also made an important start.

Madushanka took 4/64 from his 21 overs, while Craig Boswell (3/50) and skipper Steve Dillon (2/37) were the other multiple wicket-takers for the Jumping Jacks.

But the day belonged to Ellinbank, who will enter day two this Saturday with a real head of steam.

The Lyrebirds, meanwhile, are also well-placed after the opening day’s play of their clash with the Kangaroos at Hallora.

Batting first, Buln Buln was once again led from the front by impressive keeper-batsman Jack Armour (86) who has well and truly hit the ground running to start the 2018/19 campaign.

He played the steady hand on Saturday as the wickets fell around him, with his side at one stage 6/76 after a string of misfires through the middle order.

But Armour, along with the likes of Max Kelly (46) and some lower-order cameos from skipper Bryce Monahan (12) and Ricky McKerrow (16), kept the scoreboard ticking over – with the visitors ultimately dismissed for 208 in the 80th over.

James Williams was the star of the day with the ball for Hallora, finishing with 7/51 from 24 overs, but the day will be remembered for the poise and concentration shown by Armour in his 211-ball knock.

Drouin’s clash with Western Park, meanwhile, is poised on a knife’s edge after the Warriors posted 9/167 from their 80 overs on day one.

Missing player-coach Sam Batson (shoulder), the visitors relied on an all-around contribution with the willow with seven players reaching double figures – led by keeper-batsman Zane Harper’s 32.

Their ability to string partnerships – albeit not massive ones – together was crucial, given at one stage they were seemingly teetering on the brink at six, and then seven down for just 118.

Dale Weller was the leading wicket-taker for the Hawks, showing his stamina in snaring 3/66 from 29 overs.

In the remaining Division 1 game of the round, Yarragon was dismissed for a somewhat modest 141 in the 67th over against the home side Neerim District.

But the Stags will have a few early questions to answer this week, resuming on 1/20 after 10 overs with Panthers legend Gamini Kumara snaring the initial breakthrough for his side late on day one – trapping Ash Lockett in front leg-before without scoring.

Yarragon skipper Kumara set the tone earlier in the day with his crucial half-century from the middle order. His 58 was the only score over 20 for the visitors who struggled to keep out the likes of Dane Fawcett (4/27 from a shade over 14 overs), Ben Lockett (3/40), and Kody Wilson (2/20).

Nathan Bayne (14) and Matt Kelliher (1) will resume this week.

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