MARK Murphy confirmed his spot on the bus for Melbourne Country Week with a decisive century in the Cross Border Cup yesterday.
Murphy reached three figures for the first time as Warrnambool and District won the annual grudge match against Mount Gambier and District by 197 runs.
The Brierly-Christ Church opener gave one chance during his knock of 109, which laid the foundation of the host’s 294 from 49.1 overs at Jetty Flat.
Michael Threlfall (46) and Geoff Williams (42) also scored valuable runs to press their claims for WDCA selection for Melbourne from February 17 to 21.
Tim Young (5-52) and Josh Smith (3-22) were the only bowlers to make serious inroads, but both were also expensive.
MGDCA put up little resistance in reply, crashing to be all out for 97 in 32.4 overs. Only four batsmen reached double figures and none passed 25.
Allansford off-spinner Matt Brophy took 3-32 in what was another major positive for the WDCA given the lack of a frontline spinner in recent years.
WDCA captain Brett Eldridge said he could not have asked for more from the match, which he described as the ideal Melbourne Country Week preparation.
“We won and we played pretty well, which is great. It’s more so about how we played,” he said.
“A couple of guys we needed to have a look at, we got a good look at and we were really pleased.”
Eldridge said Murphy had secured his spot in the squad, although selectors would finalise the list on Wednesday night.
“Last year he was the 15th man. He came along but didn’t bat or bowl all week,” he said.
“He’s stepped up now and booked a seat on the bus. “He’s become one of those important players that we can hopefully use for the next 10 or 15 years.
“It’s great he knows how to play down in Melbourne and has that experience … he got an opportunity today and really made the most of it.”
Eldridge was also pleased with the efforts of Brophy, one of two spin options in line for selection.
“One of our weaknesses is in the past we’ve had no spin options. This year we’ve got Matt Brophy and Geoff Williams bowling spin,” he said.
“It’s undecided whether one or both of those guys will go to Melbourne but they both bowled really well.”
The only negative from the match was a duck to Nirranda batsman/wicket keeper Damon Delaney, who fell victim to an inspired piece of fielding.
Delaney who batted at second-drop fell to a one-handed catch on the run by fielder Alex Hentschke.
“He was at short fine leg, had to run at full pace and caught it one-handed. It was great athleticism from a big guy,” Eldridge said.
The win meant WDCA became the first side to claim back-to-back triumphs in the Cross Border Cup. The ledger stands at 3-2 after five years.
Eldridge said the expanded squad would train at Jetty Flat on Wednesday night from 6pm.