By Chris Anderson
The Yarra Valley Cricket competition had a new look at the top end following some forced changes.
With Yarra Glen’s unfortunate situation with players, Wandin stepped up to the top grade, DJ Strachan Shield, for the first time in nearly a decade.
Although much attention was on the Bulldogs and their return to the top flight, it was Mount Evelyn who sent a warning signal to their peers.
Playing at the tranquil Gary Martin Oval, the Mounters won the toss and elected to bat against their grand final foe from previous seasons, Warburton-Millgrove.
Warburton-Millgrove’s strength this season will lie in their miserly bowling.
Early in this contest, Mount Evelyn found it difficult to find scoring opportunities as young star Bailey Humphrey and Stuart Thompson executed an accurate opening spell, followed by Cam Darwall and Adam Humphrey who kept the brakes on with their tight, slow bowling.
When John O’Donnell was dismissed in the 15th over, the home side were wobbling at 3/34.
Sensing his team were in a contest, captain Kane Jones took it upon himself to blast his team out of trouble and into a position of authority.
This had to start with a significant partnership, and Gareth Fraser (29) held his end, rotating the strike and keeping the scoreboard ticking while Jones added the fireworks.
The pair put together a brisk century partnership at quicker than a run a ball.
Jones rode his luck with his aerial routes to the boundaries, but he hit the ball with such ferocity that the fielders just couldn’t hang onto the chances.
Jones’ innings was closed at 118, and with the help of the hard-hitting Chad Witherdin (33 not out) the total blew out to 8/227 at the end of the 40 overs.
Thompson (3/79) and Adam Humphrey (2/54) were the wicket takers for the Burras, but they were helpless to stop the onslaught.
With a significant total to chase down, the visitors were always going to find the going tough.
The opening pairing of Finn Saurine and Shane Abblitt showed plenty of grit through the opening overs, but a lack of scoring saw the required run rate blow out quickly.
Jones capped a memorable day as he ripped through the middle order with 4/3, leaving the rest of the contest a formality for the Mounters.
The Burras’ young stars showed plenty of grit and technique late in the innings to stretch things out, but the damage had been done and eventually the home side eked out the last wickets to record a 119-run victory.
Yarra Junction established themselves in the chasing pack as they outlasted Healesville in a see-sawing affair.
Yarra Junction opened the contest with the bat, and despite the early wicket of Kocher, they were able to get themselves into the contest courtesy of a useful partnership between Matt Mallick and Kevin Bomford.
Dan Ebbels (2/42) and Tom Daley (2/39) then quickly reduced the visitors to 5/53 to have Healesville in the ascendency.
Nick Bark joined the fray and despite his status as a bowler first, batsman second, he has contributed valuable knocks along the way, none more so than his innings in this game.
With his team teetering, Bark’s experience came to the fore as he guided them out of trouble and into a strong position by the end of the innings.
Wily veteran Glen Thompson was his first ally in arresting control of the innings, while a partnership with Terry Ottrey allowed the innings to flourish to a conclusion of 7/162.
It was Bark’s innings, though, as he patiently waded his way through the mess, then allowed his innings to grow as scoring became a priority.
He stood out to be unbeaten on 63 at the close.
Healesville’s innings followed a similar path to Yarra Junction’s in the early part, as openers Michael Jackson and Ben Mackey made a solid start, followed by a glut of wickets that reduced the home team to 5/55.
Caleb Hrabe (2/24) was the chief wicket taker as the innings started to head south.
Ash Hamer’s cavalier approach with the bat had the scoreboard ticking over quickly, and had he managed to stay at the wicket longer, perhaps the Bloods would’ve run away with the victory.
Lachlan Dempster ruined the parade for Hamer with his innings on 41, and that signalled the end of the resistance.
The lower order couldn’t cope with the miserly accuracy of Terry Ottrey (3/19) and the innings was wrapped up for 118, 44 runs short of the target and inside 33 overs.
Wandin found things tough in their return to the top flight against Seville.
Seville’s strength is in their bowling and, true to form, they didn’t give the Wandin batsmen any room to move in a clinical display with the ball, despite extras leading the scorers.
Wandin did battle bravely, but regular wickets stifled their ability to ramp up the scoring, and despite batting out their overs, their total looked light-on at 112.
Light-on it proved to be.
Three early wickets had the home team in the contest, but with such a low total it only takes one significant partnership to arrest the momentum.
Blues captain Leigh Aitkins led the charge with an unbeaten half-century, ably supported by Tom Page.
Seville recorded a comfortable seven-wicket victory with 13 overs still left to play.
The win gets Seville’s season up and running, keeping them in touch with the pack jostling for finals positions.
Next week will be the first round of two-day cricket and it will be interesting to see how the players adjust to the format change.
Seville will travel to Warburton-Millgrove with plenty on the line.
Warburton-Millgrove will be stung by the loss Mount Evelyn and would like to regain their status as the main challengers to the Mounters’ reign.
Healesville will travel to Mount Evelyn in a tough match up.
Healesville has had glimpses over the opening stretch of one-dayers to kick off the season, but they will need to find some consistency if they are to outlast the white-hot Mount Evelyn unit.
Finally, Yarra Junction will host Wandin and the Eagles will be keen to establish their credentials with a clinical display against the ‘new kids on the block’.
Wandin, on the other hand, will continue to find their feet in the top grade, and it will be their performance rather than the result that their leaders will be looking at.
DJ STRACHAN SHIELD
Yarra Junction 7/162 (N. Bark 63*, K. Bomford 21, T. Dalley 2/39, D. Ebbels 2/42) d Healesville 10/118 (A. Hamer 41, B. Mackey 22, T. Ottrey 3/19, B. Nightingale 2/23, C. Hrabe 2/24)
Mount Evelyn 8/227 (K. Jones 118, C. Witherdin 33*, G. Fraser 29, S. Thompson 3/79, A. Humphrey 2/54) d Warburton-Millgrove 10/108 (P. Huynh 23, K. Jones 4/3, P. Heaphy 2/12, T. Williams 2/23)
Seville 3/113 d Wandin 10/112
RA FINGER TROPHY
Seville 2/141 (L. McGookin 56*, D. Gale 55*) d Coldstream 8/137 (D. Vaux 29, P. Harris 28, L. Kay 5/46, C. Laycock 2/27)
Gruyere District 7/233 (M. Hodgetts 114, M. Tilney 45, P. Williams 3/16, R. Wilson 1/26) d Mount Evelyn 10/121 (B. Jones 47, S. Baker 16, C. Pendrey 3/11, M. Tilney 2/10)
Healesville 5/156 (R. Nolan 42, J. Baxter 27, R. English 25, H. Relf 2/43) d Yarra Junction 9/150 (R. Matthews 48, R. Turner 23, R. Foley 21, R. English 3/25, B. Wallace 2/25)
Woori Yallock 3/179 d Warburton-Millgrove 10/125
Woori Yallock 4/163 (A. Whitworth 102*, M. White 20, R. Vassalo 2/17, M. Bluett 2/23) d Gruyere 6/142 (M. Bluett 44, R. Vassalo 31*, B. Shaman 1/4, N. Felton 1/7)
Marysville 3/151 (L. Ronalds 48*, R. Hodgins 36*, J. Elliott 2/25, L. Chandler 1/36) d Wandin 8/144 (R. Smith 62, D. Trembath 44, R. Hodgins 3/9, L. Ronalds 2/22)
Seville 2/140 (S. Sculthorpe 43*, H. Byrne 38, D. Knight 30*) d Yarra Glen 10/129 (C. Foster 64, S. Beath 17, M. Wynd 4/10, J. Foster 2/7)
Launching Place 8/152 (S. Parker 47, J. Birnie 34, P. Jones 2/28, L. Hoorn 2/30) d Hoddles Creek 8/143 (L. Rowe 32, G. Derix 31, C. Sharman 4/31)
Yarra Junction 2/54 (P. Osborne 38*, P. Nolan 1/18, J. Drummond 1/22) d Healesville 8/47 (M. Wallace 18, T. Pilten 3/6)
Launching Place 2/86 (D. VanEijk 44*, A. Raj 2/15) d Mount Evelyn 9/81 (S. Bridger 30, M. Young 3/9, S. Heatherill 2/8)
Powelltown 9/218 (T. Robinson 56*, K. Dunne 55*, C. Tanner 5/35) d Seville 9/150 (C. Tanner 56*, S. Sanders 4/18, M. Clue 2/13)
Healesville Red 2/168 (T. Handasyde 36*, T. Biddiscome 25*, B. Anderson 19*, C. Patterson 1/21) d Yarra Junction/Gruyere 6/58 (C. Patterson 12*, A. Beers 7, S. Drummond 2/4, L. Robinson 1/3, J. Dossor 1/4, B. Anderson 1/8, L. Frazzetto 1/9)
Hoddles Creek 6/123 (M. Poulton 25, T. McLaghlan 14, D. Benson 14*, W. Pearce 14*, B. Rallis 2/9, E. Demopolous 1/8, J. Ferris 1/13, E. Prentice 1/19) d Healesville White 7/78 (B. Rallis 24*, Z. Prentice 14*, G. Lyons 2/1, T. Clarke 2/9, F. McLachlan 1/2, T. McLaghlan 1/11)
Launching Place 5/131 (X. Dunne 21*, L. Parker 17, D. Shambrook 2/17) d Yarra Glen Black 74 (L. Senti 13, A. Kuth 3/2, E. Amore 2/8)