Western Park starts strongly

Western Park star all-rounder Sam Batson. 218022 Pictures: RUSSELL BENNETT


It’s fair to say that, with the abundance of quality in the Western Park and Drouin line-ups in the opening weekend of the season, it was always going to make for a fascinating contest in the opening round of the Covid Cup.

Both sides are expected to be right up there not only in the Covid Cup this season but in the more traditional season that will follow, and Saturday’s opening round clash proved just that.

But it was Western Park, led superbly as usual by Sam Batson, that got the job done in the end.

The Hawks were in a fantastic position after winning the toss and batting first, however, with star Casey-South Melbourne batsman Jordan Wyatt (30) and Josh Maric (46) putting on 65 for the first wicket despite a ripping first spell by the skipper.

But after Batson (1/9) managed to prize the key wicket of Wyatt, Maric and skipper Cam McPhan (32) kept the momentum flowing with another handy partnership to lift the score above 100.

While the Hawks clawed their way to 1/114 with a hefty score looming large, the home side fought back, with Joel Batson (3/18) turning in a superb spell to turn the game on its head and leave the visitors 6/141 off their 40 overs – a competitive, but potentially underpar total.

Despite having another Premier Cricket star in quick Nathan Lambden on its side for the Hawks, the home side’s class shone through, reaching the target with five wickets and 5.3 overs left in the shed, with Sam Batson (51 not out) steadying the ship and ensuring his side would start the season with a strong victory. Dandenong keeper Jacques Augustin (15) and Jack Armour (15) also impressed in their first showings for the club.

Yarragon and Buln Buln, meanwhile, did battle, with the Panthers registering an incredibly impressive victory at Dowton Park.

The Lyrebirds won the toss and elected to bat, but couldn’t muster up any momentum, rolled for 95 in 37.3 overs, unable to recover from a slow start to launch late.

It was an even bowling performance for the Panthers, with DDCA star Amal Athulathmudali (3/14) prominent, while Lachlan Dobson’s (2/20) new-ball spell was vitally important to the result.

Despite losing an early wicket in the chase, the Panthers were largely untroubled, with Athulathmudali (38 not out) the star once again as the side raced to a six-wicket win.

Ellinbank and Hallora’s clash was abandoned.

In round two this Saturday, Buln Buln hosts Ellinbank, Drouin welcomes Yarragon, while Western Park meets Hallora.

Western Park 7/143 (S McMillan 48, J Barnes 36, D Glover 3/29, J Perry 3/29) d Drouin 101 (D Glover 40, J Barnes 3//4, K Baker 3/16); Longwarry 8/154 (B Perry 81*, A Fawcett 3/34) d Neerim District 9/152 (N Bayne 52, R George 33, K Wilson 30); Hallora 5/97 (A Phillips 30) d Warragul 94 (M Wakefield 42, J Vela 3/15, C Sharpe 3/23)

Iona 2/163 (G Rankin 99, L Gilbert 37*) d Warragul 7/162 (S Fricke 40, S Accardi 3/40); Jindivick 6/93 (S Viotto 37, J Gleeson 3/13) d Neerim District 89 (D Sheehan 33, H Moore 3/23); Ellinbank 6/152 (J Gray 53*, S Pratt 34, F Kennedy 4/23) d Western Park 8/150 (M Roberts 61)

Western Park 7/135 (M Fleming 36*, C Smith 30) d Warragul 102 (A Singh 35, S Laffy 4/8, C McCluskey 3/15); Drouin 139 (A Bajwa 33) d Jindivick 7/113 (J Jefferey 33, X Van Langenberg 31)