MERRIVALE batsman Josh Stapleton was dropped on a duck before smashing his way into the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association record books.
Stapleton made a blazing 180 as the Tigers routed Nirranda by nine wickets in their round two match at Nirranda Recreation Reserve.
The score is the highest division one total by a Merrivale batsman in history, passing Todd McLean’s 178 against Nirranda on October 27, 2007.
It is also believed to be a record for a WDCA top-grade one-day match, although official statistics are hard to come by.
Nirranda, which upset Nestles in last weekend’s season opener, was all out for 89 in 38.3 overs batting first.
Merrivale lost opener Michael “Nugget” Walsh for a duck but finished on 4-265 from its 45 overs, thanks almost single-handedly to Stapleton.
The 21-year-old came to the crease after Walsh departed in the fifth over, with Merrivale 1-4.
He steered the Tigers to 2-248 before being the third man to fall, caught and bowled by James Dalton (2-28 off nine overs) with nine balls remaining.
Along the way, he shared in a 209-run partnership with opener Richard McKellar (32).
Stapleton described the batting display as “one of those days”.
He said the bulk of his runs came either down the ground or over mid-wicket.
“Nugget said play your natural game,” he said.
“When I came in (Jason) Mungean was bowling, he’s injured and he was bowling off a couple of steps.
“I thought I’d have a bit of a hit at him and the other lad at the other end.
“They’re not an overly quick attack so I thought I’d have a hit, and I kept hitting.”
Stapleton gave the Knights three chances, including a tough one down the ground before he got off the mark.
The second didn’t arrive until he had reached 150, and the third came two overs before his remarkable knock finally came to an end.
Stapleton, whose previous best division one score was 53, said he was thankful of the opportunities his captains Walsh and Justin Lynch had given him.
Lynch handed him his first top-grade match at age 15, while Walsh has been a mentor since taking over the captaincy.
“That was the most pleasing thing for me, repaying the faith,” he said.
“They’ve put a lot of trust in me.
“I’ve batted up the order since I first started.
“It was good to repay that faith and get a few runs under the belt.”
Walsh said the knock was impressive to watch.
He said the Tigers’ first priority was to get the win after rolling Nirranda cheaply.
After that, Stapleton had “a bit of a licence to play a few shots”.
“He’s got a good eye,” Walsh said.
“We’ve been at him for a while now, he’s got plenty of ability. Hopefully he can have a breakout year now.”
Stapleton’s display overshadowed the efforts of the Tigers’ bowlers earlier in the afternoon.
James Fary took 3-10 from seven, Jeremy Burgess snared 3-17 from six and Simon Fleming took 3-7 from 2.3 to clean up the tail.
Nirranda batsman Damon Delaney made 29 to hold his own with the willow.