WARRNAMBOOL cricketers have tuned up for their Melbourne Country Week bid with a comprehensive triumph in the Cross-Border Cup against Mount Gambier.
Just three Warrnambool batsmen took to the crease as the Victorians claimed a nine-wicket win at Penola.
Woodford pair Hank Schlaghecke, 4-43, and Nick Butters, 4-15, helped rout the home side for just 99 to lay the foundation of the win.
Eel Jake McKinnon and Wesley-CBC’s Tom Bowman also snared wickets.
Nestles opener Cam Williams, who has endured an up-and-down season by his high standards, then belted 62 not out.
Merrivale’s Josh Stapleton, 20, and Port Fairy’s Aaron Williams, 13 not out, also spent valuable time in the middle as Warrnambool reached 1-101 from 15 overs.
Warrnambool coach Mick Rantall conceded his men were up against a Mount Gambier side ravaged by players missing through South Australian representative duties.
But he could not fault the performance in what will go down as an important confidence boost ahead of Melbourne Country Week, from February 18 to 22.
“Right from the word go our guys had the attitude that they showed at the Hamilton Twenty20 competition, the aggression in the field,” he said.
“There was one chance let down. It was absolutely hot, a dynamite chance. Otherwise we bowled and fielded very well.
“With the bat, Cam has got 62 not out, he batted very well.
“They were proper cricket shots. If they bowled it on his legs he hit it on the leg side. They bowled in the wrong areas to him.”
Rantall said he was rapt Warrnambool had “no passengers” in the annual representative fixture.
“Everybody that bowled, they bowled one side of the wicket. There might’ve been two legside wides,” he said.
“Cam’s glovework behind the stumps was exceptional. He kept up to the pace bowlers and he got a legside stumping.
“That’s the type of aggression we want to see at Country Week.
“We’ve got 17 in the squad. We have to get that back to 13 players to take and that’s going to be difficult because every single one has put their hand up wanting to go.”
Selectors hope to reduce the squad to 13 or 14 this week.