Niklaus returns to the top in grand style with West Warrnambool

ANDREW Niklaus made up for lost time when he capped his cricketing comeback with a division one premiership after more than a decade out of the game. 

The left-handed batsman gave up cricket in favour of football when he was about 22.

Yesterday, at 36, Niklaus was savouring the highlight of his cricket career after helping West Warrnambool claim an outright victory by nine wickets over Dennington at Reid Oval.

Niklaus said his good mate and West Warrnambool coach Dean Hurford was the main reason he had returned to the crease.

“He talked me into it,” he said.

After making the highest score of the match in the Panthers’ decisive first innings, Niklaus was glad he decided to extend his career beyond “100 overs in the backyard” over summer with his seven-year-old son Sam.

He played just two games before Christmas in division two and missed the club’s one-day flag. But a calf injury to Alex O’Connor in late January saw Niklaus promoted to division one for the third-last game of the season against Port Fairy. He made 47 batting at number five and managed to hold the spot as West went through the regular season with just one loss.

“I’ve loved it,” Niklaus said.

“To come back and play in a division one premiership is great.”

He said Hurford had set him the goal of playing in the top grade.

Niklaus said he was relieved to have secured the premiership, saying he thrived on the pressure of the first innings when he walked to the crease with his side teetering at 3-32 chasing Dennington’s 59. 

He made 46 off 120 balls and shared in a 65-run stand with Ben Threlfall for the fourth wicket that saw the Panthers end day one well ahead in the game.

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