SOFT ovals and slow outfields mean the start of cricket seasons are typically dominated by bowlers. And round one of the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association season was no exception. The average score across the five division one games which went ahead on Saturday was just 126 from a possible 45 overs. Woodford posted the highest total with 171 against Allansford, while Wesley CBC had the lowest, a meagre 88 against Dennington. But the statistics get more mind-boggling when you analyse the individual batting performances. Excluding batsmen who finished not out, a staggering 62 of 107 stroke makers (58 per cent) who took to the crease failed to make double figures. Eighteen of them made ducks. The low-scoring opening round means extra credit has to go to cricketers who were match-defining with the willow. Woodford captain John Houston carried his bat for a gutsy 71 not out against Allansford, Jayaweera Bandara posted an unbeaten 53 to lift Russells Creek out of a tricky situation against East Warrnambool YCW and Dennington skipper Dustin Drew made 53 as the Dogs posted a win.
GRASSMERE Cricket Association batsmen were no better at the crease. The four A grade matches had an average score of 120, with Wangoom and Purnim — who played out a dramatic tie — each posting 144 to be the highest scorers. Forty of the 77 batsmen (52 per cent) made under 10 and 13 made ducks. The top performance came from Purnim’s Aaron Peterson, who compiled 82. Wangoom’s Nick Sinclair (63) and Killarney’s Garry Vanstone (52 not out against Yambuk) also starred.
RUSSELLS Creek teenager Will Doran achieved a minor milestone when he helped the Creekers steamroll East Warrnambool YCW. The first-year senior cricketer took his maiden division one wickets with an impressive 5-13 at Mack Oval on Saturday. Doran played seven top grade matches last season while still eligible for the under 17s, but failed to take a wicket from 17 overs. But he hinted at what could be in store this season with one of the best bowling displays of his emerging career. Creekers captain Nathan Divall said Doran earned his wickets through consistency. “He’s one of the players we anticipate will play division one the majority of the season,” he said. “He put the ball in the right areas for long enough for the batsmen to make mistakes. That’s all you can ask from young bowlers. Consistency got him wickets.” Divall said Creek gave Doran a handful of division one games last season to “give him a feel of the higher grade of cricket”. “He did bowl a bit, but not a lot. This year he’s bigger and stronger and not playing juniors anymore. He’s raring to go,” he said. Doran’s five-wicket haul was the best of the opening round of the WDCA top grade. Nirranda’s Ben Ludeman, Nestles’ Peter Mitchell and Merrivale’s Will Chapples each took four wickets.
WOODFORD veteran Anthony Jackson says the best thing about his first hat-trick was having his son watch it from the sidelines. Jackson dismissed three Allansford batsmen in three balls at Allansford Recreation Reserve on Sunday to achieve the rare feat. The 38-year-old removed opener Gary Rowbottom caught behind for 70, the fifth wicket to fall in the Gators’ run chase. He then dismissed Matt Kelly, bowled, and Nick Mills, lbw, for ducks en route to 5-30 from nine overs — career-best figures. The triple strike helped Woodford successfully defend 190, with Allansford all out for 174 in 40.1 overs. Jackson said he was shocked and rapt at claiming a hat-trick. But he dismissed a suggestion the feat was something he would look back on in years to come. “As long as the club is competitive, that’s all you look for. I’d rather win a flag,” he said. “I played in the premiership a couple of years ago in division two. Then we got promoted to division one and I played in a losing grand final. You prefer to win a grand final again.” Jackson said his 11-year-old son Tom was watching the match at Allansford and took more joy out of the hat-trick than he did. “He was more excited than I was. He’s still talking about it,” he said. Jackson said his hat-trick meant he could take the family spotlight away from his son. Tom took five wickets across two innings in his debut under 17 match as a fill-in a couple of years ago, a haul which included a wicket with his first ball. “He used to say ‘have you taken five wickets?’ and I’d say ‘have you made a century?’,” Jackson said. “Now I’ve taken five wickets.”
THE season can only get better for East Warrnambool YCW batsman Nathanial O’Grady. O’Grady was hoping to find some early-season form when he opened the innings for East against Russells Creek in division two on Sunday. But he was back in the pavilion after just one ball, the first of the season, with an unfortunate diamond duck against his name. O’Grady was the non-striker when opening partner Sam McKimmie hit a delivery to cover and set off on a run. Creekers fielder Jacob Bushell got a hand to the ball and knocked it towards Jordan Wallace, who picked it up and threw down the stumps with a direct hit, with O’Grady short of his crease. It’s Just Not Cricket hopes McKimmie, East’s division two captain, will dig into his pockets to pay O’Grady’s club fine for making a duck. East made 102 batting first and Russells Creek passed the total five wickets down en route to 9-181.
MORTLAKE cricketer Clinton Baker (below) is quickly developing a reputation for starting the season in a rich vein of form. Baker was the standout performer in the Cats’ round one “practice match” against Boorcan. The Melbourne Country Week representative took a stunning 4-6 from 10 overs with the ball to help restrict Boorcan to 8-92 from 48 overs. He backed up with an accomplished 74 not out with the bat at first drop as Mortlake made 5-191. The solid display comes 12 months after Baker made 39 and took 4-24 on debut for the Cats after crossing from Bookaar. But his work with bat and ball on Saturday was ultimately in vain. Cricketers’ runs and wickets from the Mortlake-Boorcan match will not count towards end-of-season awards because the rest of the round was a washout. South West Cricket officials declared the match a draw and the sides received six points each. Rain, waterlogged ovals and underwater pitches meant the Pomborneit-Bookaar, Terang-Camperdown and Noorat-Heytesbury contests also finished in draws. Boorcan was arguably the big winner from the weekend, taking points from a match it was comprehensively outclassed in. But Cobden would also be smiling — it sits on top of the ladder after collecting 12 points for having the bye. Division two and three, which play one-day matches, will start their seasons this weekend.
WDCA junior cricketers have joined their senior counterparts in chasing glory throughout summer. The WDCA under 17 season kicked off last Saturday morning with two-day matches in round one. Port Fairy’s Joe Medew-Ewen compiled 51 to help the Pirates to 9-203 on day one against Brierly-Christ Church in the under 17s. Dennington opener Nick King made 54 as the Dogs posted 8-158 against Koroit. Three-wicket hauls came from Koroit’s Nathan Waterson, Woodford’s Jack Clifford, Brierly-Christ Church’s Adam Lee and Allansford pair Matthew Price and Jacob Threlfall. The under 15s kicked off last night, while the under 13s, a grade which features a handful of Grassmere clubs, starts tomorrow. South West Cricket’s under 16 north and south grades are also under way, while Grassmere’s under 15 competition starts on October 26.
THE Western Waves’ Twenty20 festival of cricket has undergone a format change to make the tournament more competitive. Organisers have removed the under 21 competition in favour of two open-age grades — division one and division two. The move is intended to eliminate lopsided matches between large and small associations. Organiser Lloyd Ilett, of Hamilton, said he was optimistic the changes would be successful. Ilett said the larger associations were likely to send under 21 sides to contest division two. “You’ll find Warrnambool, Horsham, Hamilton, South West will still send their under 21 teams,” he said. “Some of the associations may like to include one or two overage players and that’s perfectly fine. It would be a shame to see the youngsters miss out in favour of, for want of a better word, flag hunting.” Ilett said the two-division structure would make the tournament more appealing to the likes of the Casterton District and West Wimmera associations. “Instead of being stuck up in the division one competition, where they are thrown to the wolves, they will play their full senior side in that second division,” he said. Ilett said organisers were close to allocating teams in each division, with nominations closing on October 31. But Casterton and Hamilton will open the tournament with an evening match on November 30, and matches will continue on December 1 and 2.
THE Western Waves’ representative season will start on November 4 when the under 21 side takes on South East Country Sharks. Waves officials are in the process of finalising the side for the clash, which will be on turf at Terang cricket ground. The Waves enter the four-round knockout tournament as the defending under 21 premier. The Cameron Williams-led side thrashed Barwon Rockets by 127 runs at Warrion to clinch the title last season.
WDCA, GCA and SWC clubs are urged to correctly enter their scores into the MyCricket website after matches. Correctly-entered data helps The Standard publish accurate scorecards in Monday editions, ensuring readers are in the know about the sport. We respectfully ask clubs to have their scorecards up by noon on Sundays for matches played on Saturdays. Clubs should enter scores from Sunday matches as soon as possible after their completion. Clubs wanting their teams published in Friday editions need to enter them into MyCricket by 8pm on Thursdays at the latest.
The It’s Just Not Cricket column will run every Thursday throughout the cricket season and will feature news and information from south-west Victorian associations. If you have a story, tip, function or achievement your club wants published, email The Standard sports team: Greg Best — firstname.lastname@example.org; Justine McCullagh-Beasy — email@example.com; Aidan Fawkes — firstname.lastname@example.org