By Hayley Wildes and Russell Bennett
WARRAGUL & DISTRICT CRICKET ASSOCIATION
REVIEW – ROUND 14
With teams jostling for finals positioning on the last day of the home and away season, the top four remained the same and we now head into what is a mouth-watering finals campaign.
All games in round 14 were one-day clashes after play was abandoned last weekend due to the local bushfire emergency.
Western Park, who has been atop the ladder for the majority of the season, did enough against Yarragon.
The Panthers won the toss and sent Warriors into bat. It was a decision they quickly regretted as openers Joel Batson (22) and Sanjaya Gangodawila (73) put on 72 runs for the first wicket. Led by Nuwan Perera (2/33), Yarragon fought back and Western Park finished with a total of 5/193.
In reply, the Panthers were in the box seat, at 2/152, after a stirring 130-run partnership between Gayan De Silva (71) and skipper Gamini Kumara (71).
Needing just 42 runs to complete an unlikely win, Yarragon experienced an epic batting collapse to finish with 186 runs in 40 overs, falling eight runs short of victory. Jason Croft (3/36) was impressive for the Warriors.
In an absolute barnstormer at Buln Buln Recreation Reserve, Ellinbank looked home after posting a big total, but Buln Buln had other ideas.
The Bankers were sent into bat by the Lyrebirds and captain Ben Spicer (84) and Matthew Farthing (49) combined for a 128-run second wicket partnership. When Farthing was dismissed, Nick Fairbank (74 not out) came to the crease and continued to pile on the runs.
Partnering with Daniel Pandolfo (48 not out), the pair put on 111 runs to see the Bankers post an impressive total of 3/275.
Buln Buln was in deep trouble early, standing at 1/0 after opener Wilson Pollock (0) fell without troubling the scorers. To their credit, they dug deep as Jack Armour (80) and Jeff Walsh (115) put on a 168-run partnership for the second wicket.
While their partnership clearly produced plenty of runs, the speed in which they went about it – better than a run a ball – was of equal importance. Walsh’s century was a masterclass, smashing 10 fours and four sixes.
It was a case of the master [Walsh] and the apprentice [Armour] at work in a brilliant display for those who witnessed it.
When Armour was dismissed, the Lyrebirds still had plenty of work to do, standing at 2/168, needing over 100 runs for victory.
Walsh continued to fight it out and with valuable contributions from Daniel Hamilton (23), Bryce Monahan (17) and Max Kelly (13 not out), Buln Buln (8/276) reached the target with just two balls to spare.
Drouin defended its total of 7/208 against Hallora to book a finals ticket, while the Roos finished sixth; unable to recapture last season’s form that took them to the grand final.
The Hawks elected to bat first and opener Damon Healy (58) anchored the innings early as others – Jonathan Bell (8), Sam Wyatt (0) and Jake Harper (10) – fell cheaply.
At 4/114, skipper Trevor Gardiner (66) came to the crease and delivered a fine half century to guide his team to a total of 7/208. Aidan Phillips (3/40) was the pick of the Roos’ bowlers.
In reply, Hallora’s top order batsmen got off to promising starts but only Malinga Surappulige (44) was able to assert himself on the contest as four Drouin bowlers took multiple wickets. The Roos were eventually dismissed for 183 in 38 overs.
Neerim District finished the season on a high by defeating Jindivick and rising from seventh to fifth in the process.
The Stags elected to bat first and despite standing at 3/33, the work of Matthew Ward (75), Dane Fawcett (43) and Kody Wilson (57 not out) lifted them to a big total of 8/280 as they frustrated the Jindivick bowling attack.
In reply, the Jumping Jacks were never in the contest, despite Melbourne Cricket Club Victorian Premier firsts player Wilson McGillivray coming in at number three.
McGillivray was dismissed for a duck as he got caught in the firing line of Dane Fawcett (5/20), who produced a stunning opening spell to have Jindivick reeling at 5/23.
The Jumping Jacks never recovered, despite the best efforts of Steven Dillon (42), dismissed for just 118 runs in 30 overs.
We now turn our attention to the finals and if the extremely close home and away season is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat.
The semi-finals will see Western Park (first) and Drouin (fourth) go head-to-head at Western Park, while Buln Buln (second) and Ellinbank (third) will clash again – at Bellbird – after a thrilling Round 14 game.