SOUTH West Cricket (SWC) has taken its first step towards securing a third consecutive apperance at the elite level of Melbourne Country Week.
A defiant performance from stand-in captain Todd Lamont was the foundation of the three-wicket win against Leongatha and District Cricket Association yesterday.
SWC, having won the toss and bowled at Kew Cricket Ground, limited its rival to 8-180 after removing the first six batsmen for just 59. Lamont led the way with 4-16 from 10 overs, while his Mortlake teammate Clinton Baker grabbed 2-29 opening the attack.
There were nervous moments in the run chase, most notably when Wil Pomorin departed for two with the score 5-80.
But man-of-the-match Lamont and Ben Grinter steadied the ship with a 78-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
Lamont finished with 47, while Grinter made 43. Earlier, Josh Barr (39) and David Murphy (28) put on 51 for the third wicket and were also important.
SWC needed 14 runs for victory when Grinter departed but got over the line thanks to Fraser Lucas (23) and Baker (26 not out).
The pair then pushed the score to 8-216 to claim valuable bonus points — crucial in the fight to avoid relegation given the capitulation on day one.
Lamont, standing in as captain for Travis Brown, said he was pleased the side could bounce back from a seven-wicket humbling against Geelong on Monday.
He said the decision to bowl first while the side was fresh proved decisive, given the pitch became a “road” after 25 overs.
“We got six wickets early and once the pitch flattened out we put the field back and the bowlers did their job, just bowled outside off,” he said.
“We had a 7-2 field all the way through the 50 overs. Then with the batting we got off to a good start, played through the line.
“Spud (Murphy) and Barrey (Barr) had a good partnership . . . they saw the ball and hit the ball, put the front foot down. That’s what you’ve got to do here.
“We got into a bit of trouble but myself and Ben got into a reasonable partnership and got us back on track.”
Lamont admitted to “relief” when SWC reached the target.
He said he was pleased to lead from the front, but not simply because he was captain.
“Whether I was captain or not, it wouldn’t have changed my approach,” he said.
‘‘It’s always nice to lead from the front.”
Team manager Keith Baker, a regular onlooker at Melbourne Country Week, was also rapt with the victory, which he described as “fantastic”.
“Each time we lost a wicket it was ‘geez, more pressure’. It’s great to get a win down here in division one. It’s fantastic,” he said.
Baker said Lamont and Grinter “batted beautifully” to lift the side out of a precarious position midway through the innings.
“Todd hit some nice sixes and Benny Grinter worked the runs very nicely, just turning over the strike. We needed that in the middle,” he said.
SWC plays Bairnsdale, the side it beat in the division two grand final two years ago, at Central Reserve in Glen Waverley today.