WDCA gallery: Teenager writes himself into record books with ton

WEST Warrnambool teenager Ben Threlfall was back at the crease yesterday, less than 18 hours after writing himself into the record books with an impressive maiden division one century on Saturday.

At 16 years old, the opening batsman became the youngest century-maker in the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association’s top grade for more than 50 years when he blunted Port Fairy’s attack with a stunning 112 off 201 balls, including eight boundaries.

He shared a 142-run fourth-wicket partnership with veteran Leigh Johnson (71 off 109 balls, including four boundaries) as the Panthers took control of the match, setting Port Fairy 267 for victory when play resumes on Saturday.

Threlfall’s knock in just his fifth division one match since making his debut in round two was the talking point after Saturday, but he kept tongues wagging yesterday, backing up with an unbeaten 75 before retiring in an under 17 game, also against Port Fairy, at Davidson Oval.

Long-time Warrnambool cricket authorities Ian ‘Lefty’ Wright and Col Hurford could not remember someone so young making a ton in the top grade for decades, with Wright suggesting Nestles batsman David Anderson was “about 15” when he made an A grade ton in the mid 1950s before going on to play for Victoria. 

Hurford believed Harry Herbert might have been as young as 14 a few years earlier when he achieved the feat.

Threlfall has the rare distinction of making a century before having a 50 to his name. 

His highest division one score before Saturday was 26, a total he had finished on twice this season, including an unbeaten knock on debut.

Threlfall was unaware of the historical significance of his innings, but delighted to have an impact in senior cricket.

“It was great,” he said.

“It was really exciting.”

Threlfall said he started the season hoping to force his way into the reigning premier’s best side.

“I was batting down the order a bit and made a few runs and then I got put up to open and made a few runs,” he said.

“My brother (Michael) was opening and he couldn’t play so I got pushed up.”

His older brother has since been batting at number three and the pair shared a 45-run stand for the second wicket on Saturday.

Threlfall said he was dropped once and a “couple of other decisions” went his way during his stay at the crease.

“I just wanted to stay there as long as I could,” he said. 

“Once I got in and going I thought I might have been a chance to make a few. 

“I never thought I was going to make a hundred. 

“I’ve had a couple of starts (this season) but I haven’t gone on with it.

“I was pretty slow early.

“It was a bit hard early getting runs. 

“When Leigh Johnson came in we batted pretty well. 

“It was great to bat with him.”

The pair were together when Threlfall played a cover drive through the infield to bring up his ton.

“I didn’t know, I thought I was getting close,” he said.

“The boys started clapping and then they were standing up and clapping.”

The Panthers needed someone to play a big innings on Saturday with captain Ben Dobson unavailable and Threlfall and Johnson stepped up.

Johnson said Threlfall was impressive. 

“He plays nice and straight and waits for the loose ball,” he said.

“He’s a pretty level-headed kid. 

“We were effectively a batsman short (without Dobson) and he did a great job.”

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