WDCA remain undefeated at Melbourne Country Week

WARRNAMBOOL and District Cricket Association (WDCA) will consider taking two spinners into today’s Melbourne Country Week match as it looks to extend an unbeaten start.

An improved bowling and fielding performance yesterday helped WDCA secure its second division two win in two days. 

WDCA (8-230) dismissed Mornington Peninsula for 176 in 39.5 overs and then scored crucial bonus points, racing to 4-99 off 10 overs. 

The extra points lifted WDCA to the top of the division two standings with 33.67 points, 0.43 ahead of fellow undefeated sides Traralgon (33.24) and Ballarat (32.24), which clash today.

Skipper Brett Eldridge was delighted with his team’s performance, which he said set up the campaign heading into today’s match against winless Yarra Valley and tomorrow’s against Ballarat.

“Morale is up,” he said.

Eldridge foreshadowed two spinners for today’s match at Bill Lawry Oval, Northcote — the venue for last year’s division two grand final heartbreak.

He said that while the pitch had been low and slow there last year, a new curator had reportedly improved the surface.

But he said his Nestles teammate Geoff Williams was in line to make his debut with his left-arm orthodox spinners.

“We need to start exploring options like two spinners,” Eldridge said. “Both sides we have played have played two spinners and they have been hard to get away.”

He said off-spinner Matt Brophy (1-15 off four overs) had again bowled well yesterday and, along with Jake McKinnon (3-27 off six overs) and Ben Boyd (2-18 off 7.5 overs), had reeled in Mornington’s fast start. “He has been fantastic,” Eldridge said of Brophy.

“It’s the best he’s bowled two days in a row down here.”

Mornington Peninsula was scoring at almost seven runs an over, racing to 1-74 off 11 overs in pursuit of 231. But wickets slowed the momentum and from 2-103 off 20 overs, Mornington Peninsula lost 8-73.

Eldridge said the bouncy wickets had made it hard for opening bowlers, with batsmen able to use the pace.

“We bowled a lot better and we fielded a lot better. They had one guy who got away from us,” Eldridge said.

He said the result was tighter than it looked.

“It was a really tough game for the second day in a row,” he said. “Ben Boyd was really good with the ball, Jake McKinnon and Matt Brophy through the middle overs. 

“It’s really pleasing we chased down a score on Monday and defended a score on Tuesday. But we still have plenty of room to improve.”

Earlier, opening batsmen Dustin Drew (55 off 82 balls) and Karl Turner (48 off 60 balls) gave WDCA a good start, putting on 69 inside 16 overs.

When Drew was the third man out, WDCA was in a strong position at 3-138 in the 32nd over. Despite a well-made 45 from number four Josh Stapleton off 57 balls, it failed to capitalise, losing 5-42 to be 8-191 with five overs remaining. 

But an unbeaten 39-run stand between Brophy (20 not out) and Jason Mungean (19 not out) lifted the total to 230.

Eldridge thought the score was par on a pitch he described as being a touch sticky.

“It wasn’t a great score but we weren’t underwhelmed by it,” he said.

He was pleased Drew, Turner and Stapleton had made significant contributions.

“Everyone in the top four has pretty much got a score and you want those guys performing,” he said.

Hamilton and District Cricket Association’s representative side (6-198) bounced back from Monday’s loss to Warrnambool, running down Benalla’s (116).

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