By Nick Creely
Not even an epic century from the great Matthew Chasemore could see Berwick to a victory against reigning premiers Buckley Ridges in a run-soaked DDCA Turf 1 affair at Arch Brown Reserve.
The left-handed dynamo is known as a player that always lifts when his side needs it most, and the storied star provided yet another reminder of his class with the blade.
After the Bucks were lifted to an imposing 338 after a whirlwind 97 from overseas recruit Jerome Jones, the visitors were greeted by a dogged Chasemore in his side’s first real test of the season on day two.
The former Premier Cricket star and DDCA great looked solid in the early exchanges, but unfortunately for the Bears, damaging duo Jerome Jones and Daniel Watson caused havoc with the new ball to leave the home side 2/38.
The impressive Connor Bowden (2/60) managed to snare the wicket of star all-rounder Ruwantha Kellepotha just as he threatened to get going, but Chasemore just kept batting, holding firm at the top-of-the-order to keep the scoreboard ticking along nicely.
Chasemore – alongside Matthew Robertson (45) – got the home side back on track, notching up a 78-run stand before the wily Greg Todd (3/48) sparked another mini collapse, snicking off Robertson, before Jack Phillips and Brendan Rose were quickly back in the sheds.
Despite the wickets tumbling around him, Chasemore ticked over another half-century in the competition, playing fluently, and in his own unique style to prove a stumbling block for the Bucks on the way to victory.
But with the wickets falling, the run rate dropped, and despite Chasemore raising the blade for a wonderful century – one of the finest Turf 1 knocks seen in years – the Bears were always going to fall short despite a quick-fire 30 from Jarrod Goodes, ultimately batting out the day to finish 9/280, still 59 runs short of a win.
Chasemore carried the bat in a superb performance to finish with 134 not out from 209 balls, a knock featuring 10 fours and three sixes, and plenty of his trademark placement into gaps keeping the scoreboard ticking. His century was his fifth in the association in just a handful of years after a premiership previously with Cranbourne.
For the Bucks, Jerome Jones (3/53) backed up his impressive game with the bat with another impressive display with the ball, while Todd’s ability to pick up key wickets, at crucial times, was once again notable for the visitors.
Down at Strathaird Recreation Reserve, Narre South were merciless with the bat as they continue its impressive start to life in Turf 1, knocking over North Dandenong by eight wickets.
Chasing a potentially tricky 222 for victory after a superb 80 from Austin Heldt on day one for the Maroons, the Lions barely gave the visitors a sniff.
Off the back of a destructive Morteza Ali – a player with an immense eye and firepower – the Lions put on an astonishing 182 for the first wicket, with reliable batsman Jawed Hussaini absolutely rock-solid as Ali stole the show.
Ali blasted a brilliant 125 from 141 balls, flaying the Maroons to all parts to pump out seven sixes and 12 fours, while Hussaini’s 60 off 157 balls was absolutely vital as the Lions cruised to victory in the 60th over.
After failing to trouble the scorers in the season opener against HSD, Ali’s form has gradually been on the improve, and scored his first DDCA century since 2017/18.
Ashan Wijayakumara also got in the runs late to score an unbeaten 28 as he too continues to build into some of his best form before Christmas.
Down at Carroll Reserve, Springvale South boom recruit Akshay Ballal bamboozled St Mary’s on the way to a dominant win.
Setting the Saints a difficult 272 for victory on day one, the visitors resumed 0/6, and got through the first portion of the day in solid fashion without the loss of a wicket.
But after gun spinner Jarryd Straker managed to break through for the first scalp, that of Lewis Palmer for an incredibly patient 26 off 110 balls, the flood gates opened up as Ballal went to work with the ball.
Completely dismantling the Saints in a stunning spell, Ballal took 6/14 off 15 pressure-filled overs, with the Saints unable to get any momentum to finish the day 8/120.
It’s not the first time Ballal has bamboozled opposition with the ball. When with North Dandenong last season, the all-rounder snared 5/14 in one of the upsets of the season against Berwick, and now with the Bloods, adds such a dangerous dimension to its side that it perhaps didn’t have last season.
Straker’s left-arm tweakers also proved incredibly difficult to get away, finishing with the extremely impressive figures of 21 overs for just 17 runs and a wicket.
In the remaining match played at Frawley Road, Heinz Southern Districts picked up a confidence-boosting win against Hallam Kalora Park.
After a disappointing batting performance from the home side saw them fall for just 107 on day one, the Cobras resumed day two on Saturday 1/25 and eyeing a massive victory for its season.
Despite a wicket in the opening exchanges, the Cobras breezed to victory, with Eranda Ekanayake (77) leading from the front with a classy knock, while skipper Kaushalya Weeraratne continues to just churn out the runs, notching up 41.
The pair was outstanding as the Cobras crossed the Hawks just three wickets down, before using the time to get some quality time in the middle, finishing 7/190 before stumps were called early.
Champion all-rounder Leigh Booth battled hard to finish with 2/28 from 12 overs, while spinner Sachith Jayasingha (2/40) was also impressive.
With the ladder beginning to take shape in Turf 1, the players will be back into the coloured clothing for a one-day match on Saturday, with Berwick playing host to Hallam Kalora Park, Springvale South and Buckley Ridges meet for the grand final rematch in what poses to be a belter, Heinz Southern Districts will hope to carry over the momentum against North Dandenong, while St Mary’s travel out to take on Narre South.