By Chris Anderson
Two day cricket made its much anticipated return to the Yarra Valley last weekend, and the action produced some fine individual efforts and some tough, disciplined cricket.
In the competition’s premier grade, DJ Strachan Shield, Seville made a statement to the rest of the competition, proving their recent form wasn’t just a flash in the pan.
They chose the right time as it was Mount Evelyn who they caught short on day one.
The last time these two teams met, Mount Evelyn sauntered to 2/262 in their one day fixture preceding Christmas, so when the toss fell their way the Mounters gleefully elected to bat.
Seville has clearly done its homework since that day and completely changed its approach to bowling.
Identifying that the slower bowlers around the competition have had the most success this season, they have recently turned to an unlikely opening bowling duo of Marcus Smith and Liam Kay.
Smith offers some disciplined swing bowling where batsmen need to patiently navigate their way to scoring opportunities, while Kay is showing great development in his off-spin bowling, using his height and accuracy to test a batsman’s patience.
This new approach clearly rattled the competition’s front runners.
In their previous encounter, the Mount Evelyn batsmen feasted on the ball coming onto the bat using the patience to their advantage, whereas they battled to stick it out against some great bowling by this pair.
Kay patiently worked through Mount Evelyn’s formidable top order, bagging the first seven wickets of the contest.
The visiting batsmen tried to get themselves into the contest, but continually fell to impatience.
With some help of some good swing bowling from Mark Sandfort (2/19), Kay’s impressive figures of 7/44 led his team to dismiss Mount Evelyn for 113, clearly their worst performance with the bat this season and the first time the Mounters have been dismissed.
The job was only half done for the Blues, as they would have to see off a bitten Mount Evelyn attack if they were to close out a successful day.
Captain Leigh Aitkins and opening partner did their best to get their team off to a solid start seeing off the opening bowlers.
Sensing the game quickly slipping from their grasp, Mount Evelyn captain Kane Jones injected himself into the attack to wrestle some of the advantage off the home team.
He did with some success as he picked up the two openers, and with Chad Witherdin striking at the other end they were able to make inroads into the Seville line up.
When stumps were drawn, Seville sat at 3/32.
The advantage still sits well and truly in Seville’s camp, but with the three wickets falling and a notoriously fragile batting line up, give the Mounters an opportunity to pounce.
The first hour of day two will be all important.
If the Mounters capture early wickets, then it is certainly game on, but Seville will be well aware that they are just one decent partnership away from capturing a memorable, moral-boosting and much-deserved victory.
The other two games in the top flight saw a more even contest between bat and ball.
Wandin hosted Healesville in a game between two sides travelling in different directions this season.
Wandin has been impressive in its return to the top flight sitting comfortably in second place on the ladder, while Healesville has battled to ignite its season, despite remaining within striking distance of finals.
Wandin won the toss and duly elected to bat in fantastic conditions, and looked on top of the contest early.
With star batsman Bryce Edwards controlling proceedings, the Bulldogs put together some useful partnerships and, despite the loss of a couple of wickets, navigated themselves to 2/65 at the 28 over mark of the innings, and with Tim Thorne settling with Edwards, the pair looked poised for another match-changing partnership.
Much to their credit, Healesville remained unperturbed and battled on with the ball.
Dan Ebbels entered the fray as partnership breaker and did just that, removing Thorne, and when Jordan Poynton was reinjected into the attack to remove Edwards not too long after, the innings took a dramatic turn as the home team stumbled to 5/77.
Sensing the innings slipping, the Bulldogs’ bats tightened the reins to avoid a collapse.
Healesville was just as disciplined with its response led by a brilliant extended spell of bowling from Dale Senior (3/38).
The scoreboard continued to tick over, but so too did the wickets.
Rhett Smith provided some much-needed scoring impetus, as his brisk innings of 42 pushed the score towards a difficult chase when the whips were cracking late in the innings.
Eventually Wandin would be bowled out in sight of stumps for a reasonable score of 161, leaving this contest in an interesting position.
Healesville needs the win to keep its season alive.
The chase is certainly attainable, but the side will need an improvement in recent performances with the bat.
Defending a total of this size would certainly prove Wandin’s credentials.
Yarra Junction hosted Warburton-Millgrove in the final match of the round, and both teams would be reasonably comfortable where the game sits after day one.
Yarra Junction batted first and after last round’s dismal result with the bat against Mount Evelyn, the Eagles were out to quickly dispel the demons of this effort.
Captain Kevin Bomford ensured their efforts would start on the right track as he got the scoreboard rolling in typical fashion.
He lost some early partners along the way, particularly to the hand of former teammate Stuart Thompson (2/31), but he found an able ally in Andy Cowan early doors.
Regular wickets through the middle of the innings and the untimely departure of Bomford for an excellent innings of 71 put the innings on a tightrope between a successful day and a desperate missed opportunity.
It was left to the Eagles’ lower order to respond and that they did in spades.
Firstly Nick Bark (29), who is fast becoming one of the most improved bats in the competition, reignited the innings, while the unflappable Terry Ottrey (36 not out) ensured the innings would go the distance.
When stumps were drawn, the Eagles had eked the score out to 9/195, a tough challenge for the visitors to chase.
The Burras’ bowling was an even performance, led by their experienced spinners in Adam Humphrey (2/18) and Can Darwall (2/67) complementing the efforts of Thompson.
The result of this game will have enormous ramifications on both teams season.
With both stumbling in recent weeks and unable to maintain form, a win would provide a much needed moral boost and a gap on their opponents in the standings.
If Warburton-Millgrove were to chase this total, it would be a significant achievement for a relatively inexperienced batting line up and prove they still have something to offer this season.
Victory for Yarra Junction would be on the back of an even performance with both bat and ball, and firmly put their collective hats back in the ring.
DJ STRACHAN SHIELD
Healesville v Wandin 10/161 (R. Smith 42, B. Edwards 35, D. Senior 3/38, J. McKenna 2/10, J. Poynton 2/27)
Seville 3/32 (L. Aitkins 14, L. McGookin 12, K. Jones 2/5) v Mount Evelyn 10/113 (D. Fraser 27, K. Jones 23, B. Jones 20, L. Kay 7/44, M. Sandfort 2/19)
Yarra Junction 9/195 (K. Bomford 71, T. Ottrey 36*, N. Bark 29, A. Cowan 23, A. Humphrey 2/18, S. Thompson 2/31, C. Darwall 2/67) v Warburton-Millgrove
RA FINGER TROPHY
Wandin 10/282 (S. Fawdry 71, B. Keeling 51, M. Sinnott 41, A. Jakubowicz 3/52, T. Tweedie 2/25, R. English 2/48) v Healesville
Yarra Junction 6/245 (T. Gaskett 68, T. Hawkins 41, R. Turner 33, P. Broussard 2/21, C. Ferguson 2/51) v Woori Yallock
Mount Evelyn 10/225 (P. Miutescu 50, D. Fraser 49, D. Westaway 41, M. Beri 7/46) v Seville
Coldstream 10/190 (D. Whelan 36, L. Doughty 35, R. Prouse 4/64, G. Sweetten 2/10) v Gruyere District
Marysville 3/112 (C. Piggott 40*, T. Gleeson 29, A. Matthews 29, J. Pobke 2/29) d Hoddles Creek 8/109 (J. Poble 46, C. Piggott 4/22, R. Hodgins 2/15)
Launching Place d Yarra Glen (forfeit)
Wandin d Woori Yallock (forfeit)
Wandin 10/228 (C. Foden 53, B. McKenzie 52, P. Laws 51*, J. McIntosh 3/16, L. Rowe 2/21) d Hoddles Creek 9/142 (J. McIntosh 50*, L. Rowe 21, P. Laws 3/2, E. Dawson 3/10)
Powelltown 9/179 (G. McRorie 54*, K. Dunne 42, E. Crowley 5/28) v Warburton-Millgrove 7/185 (D. Geary 51*, G. Nicholandos 31, P. Dunne 2/15, B. Norman 2/44)
Healesville (D-grade) (C. Anderson 37*, A. Boyle 30, N. Glante 3/21) d Wandin (C-grade) 9/101 (D. Hummer 34, Dec. Hummer 30, B. Louw 2/6, J. Drummond 2/12, M. Wallace 2/16)
Healesville 6/75 (C. Nyko 18*, M. Wallace 11, T. Cope 4/10) d Yarra Junction/Launching Place 33 (J. Handasyde 2/0, C. Anderson 2/2, M. Wallace 2/5, E. Nikcevich 2/6)
Warburton-Millgrove 3/86 (D. Walker 20*, N. Powell 1/25) d Coldstream/Mount Evelyn 28 (D. Potter 12*, R. Thompson 1/2)