Another heartbreak as WDCA loses third Melbourne Country Week decider in four years

WARRNAMBOOL and District Cricket Association will remain in division two at Melbourne Country Week for a fifth consecutive year after suffering another grand final loss yesterday.

Hank Schlaghecke bowls for WDCA in its Melbourne Country Week division two grand final loss to Traralgon. Picture: Wayne Hawkins

Hank Schlaghecke bowls for WDCA in its Melbourne Country Week division two grand final loss to Traralgon. Picture: Wayne Hawkins

For the third time in four years, the WDCA was beaten in the decider, dismissed for 164 chasing Traralgon’s 9-235 at Albert Cricket Ground.

WDCA skipper Brett Eldridge was stoic, making an unbeaten 96. Only a lack of partners prevented him from scoring his second ton of the week as his side was bowled out in 46.1 overs.

His effort came after his predecessor Ben Boyd capped a stellar week with the ball, taking 5-32 off 10 overs in yet another impressive performance that gave Warrnambool a chance of victory.

Eldridge was downcast despite his personal contribution.

“It doesn’t mean a helluva lot,” a disappointed Eldridge said of his knock.

“We were just outplayed today. We were just that little bit off all week as far as our bowling and fielding. We probably didn’t sustain pressure long enough and probably left too much to do with the bat.

“We’ve got a good young side. You want to win and you want to achieve your goals and do everything for the association.”

He said the loss hurt.

“It’s a different feeling to last year. Last year it felt like the one that got away and this year we were just outplayed.

“We strive to be the best in the comp but we are not. We are up there. You just need to keep improving little areas.”

He said the WDCA had missed some opportunities in the field which would have reduced Traralgon’s total.

He vowed the team would bounce back, urging his players to return to domestic cricket as leaders and continue developing their games for another tilt at glory next year.

“There are no excuses as far as conditions. They just outplayed us when it really mattered. We couldn’t get a partnership going at the top and you are not going to win games of cricket without them.”

Warrnambool needed a quick start to the chase yesterday but it didn’t happen when opener Dustin Drew (6) was controversially given out caught despite the ball coming off his shoulder in the third over. Two overs later English import Karl Turner was dismissed for eight making it 2-16.

Warrnambool struggled for a partnership as it slumped to 7-70 in the 25th over before Eldridge, batting at number three, found an ally in Matt Brophy. The pair combined for a 60-run eighth-wicket stand before Brophy was dismissed for 11 off 29 balls, ending the resistance.

Earlier, Traralgon won the toss and batted on a good pitch. Despite losing an early wicket, Traralgon was able to build several big partnerships. Opener Greg Munro and Robert Webber put on 72 for the second wicket before the WDCA, through Boyd, hit back.

Boyd had Munro caught behind as his side grabbed 3-16 to have the game evenly poised at 4-99 in the 26th over. But Lee Stockdale (45) and classy skipper Brad Knowles (61) turned the momentum in their side’s favour with a 90-run stand for the fifth wicket.

When Knowles was out at 5-189 in the 43rd over, the WDCA was hanging in. But a series of free-flowing partnerships saw the total reach 235 despite Boyd taking wickets in consecutive balls to finish the innings.

Knowles was named player of the final for his 61 and 4-26 off nine overs.