By Anthony Sequeira
After six months, cricket returned to the Yarra Valley on Saturday for Round 1 action.
As in seasons past, play was set to be a to and fro between sides as players looked to shake off the rust and put their best foot forward to start the season.
In the DJ Strachan Shield, new boys Gruyere set out to show they can take it up with the best as they took on Healesville at home.
Gruyere’s evergreen M.Tilney (2/30) heaped pressure on Healesville’s order early.
Healesville captain Ash Hamer (73) set about scoring a brisk half-century, combining with J.Poynton (47) for a century stand before cameos from G.Poynton and D.Ebbels added the finishing touches to the innings to take the total to a formidable 245.
Chasing a total above 200 was always going to be a challenge for Gruyere.
Despite regular wickets through the innings, Gruyere always looked a chance. But in the end, Healesville was able to manage Gruyere’s scoring rate to restrict their total to 7/195 and take the game by 50 runs.
Wandin’s year got off to a good start with a strong collective batting effort seeing it claim victory against Yarra Junction.
A strong partnership between S.Falkingham (57) and J.Bromiley (57) and some good late hitting from B.Edwards (24) saw Wandin finish on 6/235.
Yarra Junction’s Number 4 M.Malik was brutal on the loose ball but he lacked any noteworthy support as the lower order fell to the bowling of E.Alderman (4/30).
When he was the last man out for 85 there was still 6 overs left in the Yarra Junction innings and although the Eagles were still 60 runs short of their target, one would think an even batting display with multiple contributors would have taken them very close to a victory.
In both RAFT Blue and Gold, runs were the order of the day as games were won off the back of a series of big individual innings.
Coldstream’s D.Sharp (132) struck a stunning century against a hapless Healesville attack, sharing a double century opening partnership with young gun M.Pezzimenti (88).
The only positive for Healesville was A.Pearce (4/24) as he collected late wickets.
Yarra Junction hosted Wandin at Yarra Junction oval in another game where the side batting first dominated the contest.
Yarra Junction struck a strong total of 6/218 featuring half-centuries to R.Turner (71*) and A.Vandervlugt (58*).
At Wickhams reserve, Launching Place took on Warburton in a game that the young talent in the Yarra Valley on display.
Launching Place found the going tough early and further losses late in the innings saw the side eventually scrape together 151.
The Burras began their chase rapidly and in the end, reeled in the score with more than 10 overs to spare.
In the final match of the round, Marysville travelled to Woori Yallock to take on the Tigers at home.
Marysville batted a disappointing 118 while a brutal display of power hitting from Woori Yallock’s H.Smith (66*) and J.Young (39*) chased down the score with half the overs still in hand and seven wickets in the shed.
Next week sees the first round of T20 action in the Yarra Valley with double-header matches scheduled to start at 1pm and 3.20pm at both Yarra Junction and Healesville.