By Russell Bennett
The Wild Dogs of Warragul District emerged from the wilderness to record a win for the ages on Sunday against the powerhouse Traralgon and District in the opening round of the Gippsland Cricket League (GCL) for 2019/20.
Astonishingly, the WDCA outfit defended its seemingly ordinary 138-run total, obliterating Traralgon for just 57 in a shade over 21 overs in remarkable scenes on a rain-affected day.
In hindsight, it was a credit to the ground staff at Hallora that the contest could even be played, given the weather that hit the region the day prior. But ultimately the clash was only cut by seven overs in each innings.
And even though it was a shortened contest, it provided more than enough thrilling play to stay long in the memory banks of the WDCA faithful who were there to witness it all unfold.
It was clearly one of the biggest wins in recent memory on the big stage for the Wild Dogs, and has the potential to light one serious fire under their GCL campaign.
Traralgon quick Keenan Hughes provided the fireworks in the home side’s innings, seriously testing the batsmen with some old-fashioned short stuff before the WDCA scrounged its way to 138.
The feat was made even more remarkable given that, last season, the WDCA went winless in the GCL, while Traralgon were finalists. This time around the WDCA selectors were also left in the unenviable situation of having around 15 players declare themselves unavailable for play – after almost all of them played the day before for their home clubs.
But the team that took to the field proved that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight that counts, it really is the size of the fight in that determined, snarling canine.
One of the real highlights of the WDCA’s innings was Hughes’ individual battle with WDCA opener Jack Armour, with two of the Gippsland region’s finest youngsters going head-to-head with neither willing to give an inch.
Armour’s 40 was vital to his side’s cause, while skipper Fraser Duncan added 34 of his own.
Justin Little snared 4/26 for the visitors, while Hughes took 2/21 and Jamie King 3/20.
Traralgon’s calamitous reply started with a pair of run outs, before 2/24 soon became 6/48.
Hallora recruit Lauchlan Gregson was a huge headache for Traralgon to handle, but being skilled for just 57 would surely leave many within their camp scratching their heads.
The Wild Dogs’ remarkable win was clearly the talking point of the weekend, overshadowing the rain-hampered WDCA Division 1 action on Saturday.
Draws were shared across each of the four games – Buln Buln with 4/36 in reply to Western Park’s 9/172; Ellinbank with 8/170 in reply to Hallora’s 8/182; Garfield-Tynong with 9/117 in reply to Drouin’s 135; and Yarragon’s 5/100 in reply to Neerim District’s 9/148.