By Tyler Lewis
It took just 15.5 overs, four maidens, and 26 runs for an outrageous nine wickets.
And that was only the first innings for Dandenong’s James Nanopoulos at Greenvale Reserve on Saturday.
Only a week after grabbing Roger Gill’s record of 313 scalps, the right-arm seamer decided to add another 11 wickets to his name in a day that will go down in Dandenong Cricket Club folklore.
The Kangaroos won the toss, elected to bat and immediately felt the impact of a career-best Nanopoulos, who skipped to the figures of 7/8 inside the first 45 minutes of play.
The in-form Kaushal Silva was just one of his nine scalps in the first innings as he was ticking off records in a chaotic spell that included two triple-wicket maidens.
Nanopoulos finished with 9/26, with tweaker Suraj Randiv snaring the only other victim in his spell of 1/0 from five.
After claiming the most wickets record in front of his home crowd last week at Shepley Oval, when Nanopoulos claimed his eighth, he had then secured the record for the best bowling figures in an innings.
And when he took his ninth, the club’s record for best figures in a match, the match wasn’t even finished.
The Panthers were set to chase 50 for first innings points, which was passed comfortably two down.
Wanting to put the foot on the accelerator, Nanopoulos with the bat was going to play a key role, but he fell for some of his own medicine, departing without troubling the scorers.
It was Cam Forsyth who added 46 to excel the Panthers to a handy 118-run lead.
When Tom Donnell waved in his men, and pushed the Roos out for another bat, Nanopoulos was given another shot with the ball.
And it was an opportunity he took with both hands, claiming yet another wicket inside his first over.
He wasn’t finished yet though, jagging a second only balls later before Greenvale finished the day 3/39 in the second innings with their tails between their legs, trailing by 79 to avoid an outright loss.
Nanopoulos bowled a long spell over the course of the day, and said his body is holding up okay despite an early scare, and after overstepping in his first delivery of the day, a new superstition may be taking place.
“(I’m feeling) not too bad, I am getting a bit older now so you start to feel it but I’m all good,” he said.
“I actually thought ‘how could that be?’ because I actually pulled my run up back a bit.
“Ed (Newman) said after the game that I have to bowl one (no ball) every time now.
“I think I ended up bowling four in the second innings so I was getting pretty frustrated by it.
“I think the first couple of overs I had 0/5 and my quad was a bit sore so I was like ‘oh no’, but then it came all good.”
After claiming the first eight, it seemed as though Nanopoulos could get them all, before Suraj Randiv snuck through a scalp of his own. Despite costing Nanopoulos a 10-wicket haul, he wasn’t too fussed about it.
“Not really (fussed), I was pretty tired, I think I was on to my 10th over so I sort of wanted to get it out of the way and get off the ground for a bat.
“It is not every day you try to take a bag of eight or nine so I tried to keep going and I was lucky enough to get the last one with a pretty rank delivery.
“But when it is your day, it is your day I guess.”
After jagging nine wickets, Nanopoulos then made a duck with the bat, although having a field day with the ball, he still thinks that is the most annoyed with himself he has ever been after not troubling the scorers.
“That is probably the most disappointed I have been, I was absolutely fuming,” he said.
“I didn’t have a great mindset going out to bat to be fair, especially when you are already ahead, I didn’t really apply myself that well.
“I was kicking myself pretty much for the first 40 minutes after I went out and then once we started to get ahead by a little bit I calmed down,” Nanopoulos said.
Dandenong skipper Tom Donnell lost the toss in the morning and his troops were sent into the field, but after a clinical display from his opening bowler, he wasn’t too disappointed with losing the toss, labelling Nanopoulos’ spell one of the best he has ever witnessed.
“It was an interesting morning, I wasn’t sure whether to bat or bowl and they won the toss and had a bat so we were just looking to take early wickets,” he said.
“We just wanted to do damage in the first our hour and Nano was good enough to get that damage done for us.
“It is right up there, when someone gets 9/26 it is sort of hard to go past really.
“He was getting tired towards the end and the boys just wanted him to keep going for us and yeah he did the job.
“It was quite surreal really, at one stage he was looking like he could get all 10 and he looked like he could get a wicket every ball.
“It was really impressive, to be a part of it, it is probably something we will never see again to be honest.”
The big wicket of Kaushal Silva got the ball rolling for the Panthers in a dream start to the match, after the wicket of the silky batsmen, Dandenong went in for the kill, and after rolling the Roos for less than 50, the declaration for Donnell was all about managing his bowlers.
“It was probably the highlight (the Silva dismissal),” he said.
“Kaushal is their main batsman, someone we needed to get out early, first ball was more than what we could’ve expected, a nice outswinger that gave a nick to Jacques.
“We were in a pretty good position after that.
“We always wanted to have another bowl at some stage, we just didn’t want our bowlers to be too tired.
“We didn’t want to give them too many easy overs, so to speak, a lot depended on how the bowlers were feeling.
“12 overs was bang on as much we wanted to bowl, we would’ve loved a few more runs in our batting, we probably could have batted a bit better, but we are in a pretty good position.”
Nanopoulos entered the match 14 wickets behind the Dandenong record of most scalps in a season (Roger Gill and Will Carr 46), but he may very well leave the match with his name etched into every Dandenong Cricket Club bowling record as he left the days play with 11/45 and a chance at the seven remaining next week.