THE batsman who became a Merrivale hero in the space of an afternoon wasn’t even supposed to play in the division one side.
Jeremy Burgess was the catalyst for one of the Tigers’ finest rescue missions when he blasted a century against Allansford at Uebergang Oval on Saturday.
An out-of-sorts Burgess strode to the crease with his side reeling at 6-40 early on day one of the two-day Hopkins conference match.
But the number eight crafted 127 to help lift the Tigers to 261 by stumps. They will defend the better-than-expected score this Saturday.
Burgess said the century was his first in division one and his highest score. He also has tons in division two and division three to his name.
Selectors had put him in the Tigers’ division two side because he will miss this weekend due to a charity walk from Warrnambool to Halls Gap.
But he earned a recall to the firsts — with devastating results — after Justin Lynch pulled out on Saturday morning, hours before the start of play.
“When I walked out at 6-40 I thought we were in a bit of trouble,” Burgess said yesterday. ‘‘I hadn’t been batting the best of late.
“I tried to feel confident we could get a good score on the board with Matthew Wilkinson at the crease as well, he had been in for a bit.
“We spoke and said if we could bat to tea, we could build an innings after that. I went in and batted for 12 or 15 overs before tea.”
Burgess and Wilkinson, who came in with the score 3-12 and made a defiant 55, put on 128 for the seventh wicket.
Burgess then added 59 with Tim Bryce, who made 25, to take the score beyond 200.
The Tigers’ last four partnerships were worth 221.
Burgess said he was dropped once, by Gators recruit Nick Maddison in gully shortly after tea when he was on “35 or 36”.
“It’s great from a personal side of things to be able to do something for the club. It’s put us in a very winnable position,” he said.
“I could’ve easily gone out there and only made a couple and left us at 7-50 and put pressure on the other guys coming in.”
Merrivale skipper Michael Walsh credited Burgess and Wilkinson for their heroics but lamented five of the top six batsmen failing to reach 20.
“I was frustrated and I explained that to the players,” he said
‘‘But on the flip side we walked out of that ground with 261 on the board.
“You’d normally be pretty happy with that score around Warrnambool but maybe 300-plus would’ve been nice at Allansford.”
In other Hopkins conference matches, three half-centuries underpinned Woodford’s 311 against Brierly-Christ Church at Brierly.
Kory Howlett made 85, Hamish Withers reached 74 and Nick Butters continued his rich vein of form with 53.
And East Warrnambool-YCW needs just 40 runs with five wickets in hand to complete a season double against Russells Creek.
The Broncos are 5-94 chasing 133 after a bowler-dominated day at Jetty Flat. Mick Townsend (22) and Vijay Ramesh (10) are unbeaten.