By Nick Creely
VICTORIAN PREMIER CRICKET
ROUND 14 (DAY ONE)
Luke Wells’ sheer impact as a leader of Casey-South Melbourne can never be underestimated.
He has provided a calm head and possesses a presence that has made his teammates walk taller, but the Sussex opening batsman’s impact with the bat has been extraordinary too. He’s a run machine who has taken the competition by storm.
On Saturday, in what is likely to be his final dig before he heads back home to link up with Sussex, the stylish left hander produced a memorable century in what has been a remarkable season. And it came against the in-form Essendon, in a match that is likely to determine whether his side will be seeing any finals action.
The Bombers made the Swans really work early, and promising opener Ryan Quirk departed without troubling the scorers, edging the ball to slip in a great piece of bowling by Matt Doric.
Wells and youngster Joel Mitchell (19) fought hard to withstand plenty of heat, with the latter looking particularly strong in defence, before an untimely chip back to the bowling of Connor Rutland brought about his downfall.
The skipper continued to play his way, however, quickly flashing the arms at anything short to send the ball crashing to the square boundaries on several occasion, and used superb placement and timing to pick apart the gaps off the quicks. Off the spin bowling of James Seymour, Wells refused to let him settle into a rhythm, using his feet to loft one down the ground.
Right before lunch, Wells raised the bat for a superb half-century with some classic strokeplay, with his Swans reaching the luncheon break on 2/80.
But it was after lunch that Wells truly took toll on the Bombers. The skipper upped the ante, and combined for a brilliant partnership with a fellow tall leftie in Michael Wallace to pile on the pain.
The pair swiftly got the home side to an imposing 3/191, with Wells surging to yet another century despite very nearly falling for 87 after a drop catch by the keeper that couldn’t quite be snaffled by first slip too, and made his way to 114 at tea, reaching the three figures with a glorious six down the ground, with Wallace providing superb support with 45 runs of his own.
After tea, the pair simply could do no wrong. Wells crossed 1000 runs for the season as he continued to showcase his aggressive side and cross 150 with over 20 overs left in the day, while Wallace also picked up more momentum to send a couple sailing over the ropes and near a second century of the season.
But just nine runs short of his triple figures, he was run-out in the cruellest fashion, with a straight drive coming off the fingers of the bowler and crashing into the stumps on the bowlers end with their partnership on 198.
With a licence to excite, Jordan Wyatt crashed them to the boundary to reach 21 off his first 16 balls, helping the home side surge past the 300 mark. And Wells simply kept going, spelling trouble for the visitors.
Wyatt’s remarkable cameo culminated with a breathtaking half-century off 30 balls, and he took 24 off just one over from Doric as he crashed three sixes to the boundary in epic fashion. He finished with a remarkable 74 off 38.
But Wells was just as spectacular, reaching 197 not out off 258 balls, but unselfishly declared on 4/396 to narrowly miss out on the double but still carry his bat, to allow the Swans a late dip with the ball.
The Bombers managed to survive the final two overs of the day, finishing 0/0 off two overs, with James Seymour and Aaron Ayre to continue next week.
And Dandenong weren’t spared from leaking serious runs in their Victorian Premier Clash with an underperforming Footscray side at Shepley Oval on Saturday.
The Dogs sent a telling reminder that they are, on their day, as dangerous as any side in the competition, sending the ball to all parts against a Panther side that welcomed back none other than James Pattinson to the fold.
With the fast bowler returning from the side strain that ended his Big Bash season with the Brisbane Heat, champion all-rounder James Nanopoulos playing his 200th first XI match, as well as the always special Pink Stumps Day, there was every reason to be confident after sending the Dogs in.
Pattinson took the new ball and bowled well in his first spell, bowling three overs, but the Dogs were looking comfortable on a superb batting pitch. He finished with 0/33 from 10 overs.
Matt Underwood (41) and Ash Armstrong (28) got the visitors off to a strong start, crashing 68 runs for the first wicket, before seamer Peter Cassidy (4/73) picked up a couple of wickets to peg the score back to 2/80.
But gun pair Dean Russ (91), and skipper Dylan Kight (98) launched – particularly in the second session – combining for a sublime 131-run partnership for the third wicket, sending the visitors past the 200-run mark with plenty of time left in the day.
Agoninsly, both fell just short of a century, with Kight in particular just two runs away from triple figures after Nanopoulos got through the gate of the star in a moment that helped shift momentum somewhat.
The Panthers rallied, particularly through Cassidy and Nanopoulos (4/73) to peg the scoring back, but the Dogs still surged their way to 9/350 at stumps.
MPCA – PROVINCIAL
ROUND 12 (DAY TWO)
Pearcedale seem all but certain of being relegated out of the MPCA’s top flight after an outright loss to an ominous Langwarrin at Lloyd Park.
After already conceding first-innings points on day one, the Panthers faced a tough challenge to being the day.
Starting on 4/100 – 21 runs ahead – the Kangaroos surged their way to 7/179 before declaring – giving themselves plenty of time to snare the 10 wickets required for the extra points.
The Panthers battled hard, but were ultimately rolled for 106, with Jake Roberts top scoring with 38. The Kangaroos then picked up the nine runs required to seal the deal within two overs.
VICTORIAN SUB-DISTRICT – NORTH/EAST
ROUND 12 (DAY ONE)
Endeavour Hills were undone by a superb spell of bowling from Brunswick star James Pearson at Syd Pargeter on Saturday.
The Eagles batted first after winning the toss, and could only amass 87 in just under 28 overs, with Pearson steaming through the home side with 7/41 off 14 overs.
The visitors quickly reached 3/151 before declaring just over an hour before stumps, with the Eagles battling their way to 3/35 at stumps.
And Noble Park pumped out 268 against Coburg, with Nilochana Perera continuing his fine season with 83.