By Russell Bennett
WARRAGUL & DISTRICT CRICKET ASSOCIATION
REVIEW – ROUND 5 (DAY TWO)
Just when it appeared from the outside that Ellinbank’s bubble may’ve been set to burst, it soared to impressive new heights.
Ben Spicer’s side conceded 316 runs on day one against a formidable Western Park side, only to come out on day two and chase it down in spectacular fashion for the loss of just seven wickets – proving, well and truly, that it’s the real deal.
Spicer, himself, recorded his second straight half-century for his new club and fell just four runs short of a debut century in Ellinbank colours.
New to the WDCA this season, he’s already impressed with the way in which he’s led by example and Saturday’s performance was another shining example of just that.
While he was bowled by Danny Sheehan for 96, Nick Fairbank converted on his own Round 4 half-century with a glistening ton from the middle order.
His and Spicer’s knocks were the key factors behind their side’s successful chase, particularly after the in-form Troy Lehman (3/83 from 20 overs) had the side seemingly stumbling at 2/47 at one stage.
The most impressive part of Fairbank’s innings, in particular, was that it was scored after tea – with Jeremy Gray removed just after the break for 43.
After Spicer’s dismissal, and a series of other key wickets that followed, much was left to Fairbank, the former coach.
And he came through in flying colours as Ellinbank clinched the points with just an over remaining in a thriller.
Young gun Liam O’Connor was the Warriors’ other multiple wicket-taker with 2/38
Buln Buln, meanwhile, secured a convincing win at Dowton Park over the hometown Yarragon.
After scoring 236 on day one, the Lyrebirds rolled through the Panthers for just 134 in their reply with star skipper Gamini Kumara (61) once again the standout with the willow in all-too-familiar fashion.
He simply didn’t have enough support as the likes of counterpart Bryce Monahan (5/45) struck, and struck often.
The Lyrebirds then batted out the remaining 22 overs of the clash, finishing on 5/114.
Elsewhere, Jindivick secured a potentially season-defining win at Drouin over the hometown Hawks.
Chasing 198, the Jumping Jacks resumed on 1/59 and Eddie McGillivray (70 not out) simply stole the show with a superb unbeaten half-century.
After some day one heroics from Morne O’Donoghue (50), McGillivray took over in the second stanza of the chase.
The visitors overcame some nervy moments following some key middle-order dismissals to ultimately reach 6/207 from 61 overs, with Simon Gardiner (3/71) and Brad Glover (2/26) the multiple wicket-takers for Drouin.
In the remaining clash of the round, Hallora (8/192) had already secured first innings points on day one against Neerim District (65, 128) but was unable to convert that into an outright result – despite their best efforts.
Sam Whibley backed up his 5/24 from the Stags’ first innings with 3/36 but the visitors did just enough to stave off outright defeat.
Warragul and District looks to keep on rolling in the GCL
Warragul and District will enter the next round of GCL action this weekend full of confidence after its impressive Round 2 result against Bairnsdale.
The WDCA secured a draw against the powerhouse side at Lucknow, proving it belongs against the big boys of the competition.
GCL coach Norm Berry said he and his group are looking forward to Sunday’s Round 3 battle against Leongatha and District at Hallora – hoping to capitalise on the positive momentum they’ve created.
“If we play our best cricket, we know we’re good enough to beat them,” he said of the WDCA’s opposing teams.
Berry said there was genuine buy-in from the players who’d put their hand up to represent the WDCA – which include some of the competition’s biggest, and most in-form, names.
He raved about the attitude that Ellinbank’s Ben Spicer, for example, has brought to the group after his performances at Country Week in recent seasons for the WGCA.
“I’ve said to all of the boys – everybody who’s in that side has either made runs or taken wickets, with the exception of (skipper) Fraser (Duncan) who probably hasn’t made a lot of runs at club level but his leadership on the field outweighs everything else, and when it counts he makes runs,” Berry said.
With the likes of Spicer, Duncan, Jack Armour, Troy Lehman, Malinga Surappulige, Troy Ferguson, Leigh Diston and Nuwan Perera in the group, there is some genuine WDCA star power on display.
Berry praised their enthusiasm – particularly that of the imports in the group.
“The guys who’ve come across like AK Tyrone and Nuwan Perera – they just love cricket,” he said.
“They can’t get enough of it, and it rubs off in the field on all the other guys too.”
And it’s crucial that the group continues with the wave of positive momentum it’s created earlier in the competition.
“These are quality leagues we’re up against,” Berry said, adding that – in some respects – the GCL competition this year is even more critical to the WDCA than country week, given the quality of their powerhouse opposition.
“The guys who show the right commitment during the year in GCL cricket, and are playing good cricket at the level, will get the first shot at Country Week, too.
“We’ve got the nucleus of a really powerful representative side.
“(But) for the league to keep backing it and getting right behind it – the results need to go our way as well.”