South West Cricket (SWC)will feature at the elite level of Melbourne Country Week for a third consecutive year.
A 46-run defeat to Murray Valley at Bayswater Oval yesterday meant SWC finished its 2014 campaign with one win and three losses.
Captain Travis Brown won the toss and bowled, limiting Murray Valley to 6-219. SWC could only make 7-173 in reply.
But the result of the Bairnsdale-Leongatha and District match 20 kilometres away meant SWC avoided demotion from provincial grade.
Leongatha and District, winless entering day four, failed to defend 9-227 in an eight-wicket defeat to Bairnsdale at Shepley Oval, Dandenong.
As a result, Leongatha and District finished on the bottom of the ladder and will be relegated to division two next year.
“We feel like we nearly don’t deserve to be there after the week we’ve had,” Brown said. “We’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us before we come back.
“We haven’t had a very successful week. I don’t think we performed with the bat all week, that was a weakness.
“We were only trying to chase 219 today and we couldn’t get it done. They (Murray Valley) bowled well but we need to work hard on our batting.”
Brown said SWC would put more emphasis on its preparation before heading to Melbourne next year.
“We don’t play on turf so I think we’ll get into a bit more training and get on turf a lot more before we come down,” he said.
The day had started much better for Brown and his men. They reduced Murray Valley to 4-97 off about 35 overs, with Clinton Baker striking twice.
But Luke Patel (64 off 96) and Ashley Quinn (59 off 41) swung momentum the notherners’ way with a 112-run stand in quick time.
Baker finished with 3-45 from 10 overs, Fraser Lucas took 2-35 from 10 overs. Jake Reed and Chris Dendle went wicketless but bowled well.
The target was within reach when SWC batsmen Josh Barr (53 off 101) and Steve Castle (28 off 51) took the reply to 2-96.
A mid-innings collapse — the third for the week —ensured the week finished on a low note. SWC lost 4-16 and never recovered.
“We were looking all right but as soon as we lost one wicket we started to lose a clump,” Brown said.
“It’s still a massive thing for our association to be playing in provincial at Country Week.”
Brown praised Ben Grinter for his efforts with the bat during the week. Grinter made 41 not out off 48 balls yesterday to finish the week with 133 runs, passing 40 three times.
The captain was also pleased with workhorse quick Clinton Baker, teen paceman Jake Reed and teen off-spinner Chris Dendle.