South West Cricket in fight for survival at country week

SOUTH West Cricket (SWC) needs results to go its way to avoid relegation from Melbourne Country Week’s provincial grade.

A second defeat in two days, this time against Sale-Maffra Cricket Association (SMCA), dropped the top grade newcomer to seventh spot on the eight-team ladder.

SWC needs to win today against sixth-placed Murray Valley Cricket Association at Essendon’s Windy Hill to guarantee its provincial survival.

Should it lose, it must rely on winless Ballarat suffering another defeat at the hands of Mornington Peninsula Cricket Association at Caulfield Park.

SWC won the toss and batted on a near-perfect batting wicket at Dandenong’s Shepley Oval yesterday.

It started well enough, reaching 1-58 and 2-83.

But regular wickets thereafter left it 7-150, before Todd Lamont launched a rescue mission.

The Mortlake skipper hit three sixes in a hard-hitting 45 late in the innings to lift the team to 9-200. 

As has been the theme in previous weeks, top-order batsmen got starts but failed to capitalise. Josh Barr made 28, Ben Grinter reached 29 and Steve Castle fell for 30.

The modest score proved well short of par when SMCA kept wickets in hand throughout its well-timed run chase.

It reached the target in the 41st over and belted 107 runs off the final nine overs to pick up valuable bonus points.

Daniel Bedggood belted 72 off 76 balls, Josh Rurawhe hit 60 off 65 and Michael Jones made 50 off 61.

Few bowlers avoided the carnage, though Lamont was the pick with 2-37 off 10 overs.

“Unlike yesterday, where we bowled poorly first-up, I thought today we batted ourselves out of the game,” SWC captain Steve Castle said after the game. 

“We didn’t put enough runs on the board on a great wicket and a great ground.

“The bowling was nothing outrageous, we just kept getting ourselves out. Three of our top four batsmen again got to 30 and got out.

“As I said to the boys, at this level you’ve got to turn those starts into a lot bigger scores.”

Castle highlighted the performance of Lamont with both bat and ball.

“We were looking really shaky before Todd got in there,” he said.

He said the performance of the top order necessitated changes. Craig Sargeant, who dropped down the order yesterday, could return to the opener’s role.

“I would’ve thought if we won tomorrow and came away with two wins, it would be acceptable,” Castle said.

“It would be disappointing if we came away with one win. 

“Hopefully we can put our batting together tomorrow and give our bowlers something to defend or bowl well first and give our batsmen something they can chase.”

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