NESTLES star Cam Williams rewarded selectors’ faith with a match-winning century in Warrnambool and District Cricket Association’s (WDCA) opening day win at Melbourne Country Week yesterday.
The 20-year-old wicket-keeper/batsman made 100 off 118 balls, including 14 boundaries, in the WDCA’s thrilling division two victory over Traralgon at Oakleigh.
Opening the innings against a side that was demoted from provincial grade last year, Williams watched four of his teammates depart with just 72 on the board. But he dug in and crafted an innings that set up the WDCA’s 9-202.
The WDCA looked set for a much bigger score but after Williams was dismissed in the 40th over at 5-151, Traralgon stormed back into the match through paceman Adam Brady, who claimed 7-25 off 10 overs, including a hat-trick that ripped the lower order apart.
Traralgon’s innings mirrored the WDCA’s, in early trouble, before recovering in the middle part, only to collapse, losing 3-3 in six balls to be all out for 194 with nine balls remaining.
Williams, who stood behind the stumps in searing temperatures after his knock, was looking to put his feet up last night.
“I’m a little bit buggered,” he said. “To help get the boys over the line is what it’s all about. We are here to win and if it means me making the runs than that’s fine, as long as we get the wins for the team.”
Williams, joint cricketer of the year last season, said he was keen to get among the runs, having made just 148 from 10 division one matches this season at an average of just 13.45.
“It was relief,” he said of the emotion when he brought up the ton, his first in Australia.
“After the season I’ve had, it was half frustration, finally, finally I’ve done something. I’ve pretty much made the same amount of runs in one innings as I have in 10 matches.”
Williams said he had been patient. “Playing the best bowlers from each league you have to play your natural game and put away their bad balls. They bowled to my strengths and tried to bounce me out and I kept hooking.”
Williams played down his role, saying fellow opener Dustin Drew (2), skipper Brett Eldridge (10) and last season’s joint cricketer of the year Ben Dobson (0) were the three best batsmen in the side and while all failed, he had to respond.
“You have to say to yourself you are here to do a job and step up.”
Eldridge was delighted to get the points — a result his side hasn’t achieved in its opening game at Country Week for three years.
“I think the most pleasing thing was it was a big team effort,” he said. “No one took more than two wickets and Cam was fantastic with the bat. It’s a fantastic start to the week.”
He heaped praise on his Nestles teammate Williams.
“It wasn’t an innings you have associated with Cam in the past where he has been a whirlwind,” he said. “Today he was patient, picked the right balls and it was probably a level up from what we’ve seen from in the past. It was more mature.”
Nirranda skipper Jason Mungean made a valuable, hard-hitting 30 late in the innings to boost the score beyond 200.
After reducing Traralgon to 4-45 and 5-53, the polished Brad Knowles (74) held the innings together before Eldridge broke through his defences with a yorker that sparked the dramatic collapse of 3-3 in six balls. Nirranda’s Damon Delaney sealed the win with a direct hit run-out at the non-striker’s end from mid-on.
Eldridge said his side had room for improvement entering today’s match against Yarra Valley in Footscray.