By Tyler Lewis
“I am sure he will get six Ryder Medal votes.”
Dandenong captain Brett Forsyth couldn’t have been happier with his star all-rounder Matt Wilson, after a complete performance with both bat and ball.
Once being forced to bowl first on a dark and gloomy day at Shepley Oval, Wilson was terrific with the ball, claiming three sharp wickets, including two in successive deliveries.
A spell in hindsight that changed the trajectory of the match.
Ringwood were 9/99 before the final wicket partnership of 24 – the second highest of the Rams innings – added some valuable runs to the tally.
But it was Wilson again who broke through, claiming his fourth wicket in the early stages of his second spell.
The zippy right-armer walked off Shepley Oval at the innings break with 4/20 from 8.5.
Despite poising his side in a dazzling position, Wilson’s time in the pavilion was brief.
He was back in the middle after an early collapse forced him to step up to the plate once again.
At 4/31, the task was oh so simple, yet oh so difficult: stay with skipper Brett Forsyth, who appeared once again to be the key in the Panthers run chase.
Forsyth lost his partners Tom Donell, Josh Slater, brother Cam Forsyth and gloveman Sam Newell in quick succession, and needed someone to go with him.
Wilson proactively obliged, pairing with his skipper to add 54 in quick-time, in what was evidently tough conditions to bat.
When Wilson departed (37 from 38 balls), Forsyth needed to reset, and did so, guiding his side to a valuable win, and an even more valuable bonus point after looking so far from victory in the early stages of its run chase.
Ringwood and Dandenong respectively have been so stable in there XI’s over the best part of the last decade, but with several outs due to Covid, Ringwood blooded some exciting debutants.
Forsyth commended those debutants, stating they tested his side.
“I thought it was a weird lead up to the game, knowing some of their players were missing,” he said.
“Ideally we would be happy to take on their most credentialed XI, but for us it was a little bit strange, but we gave full respect to Ringwood because we know they’re a strong club.
“They have strong depth and they showed that yesterday, there was probably more pressure on us yesterday, maybe externally being expected to win.
“I thought the way Ringwood played was exceptional, they had five debutants and supported each other well.
“We did have to encounter a completely different bowling line-up and to their credit, they got the ball swinging early and put it in the right places and put us under pressure,” Forsyth said.
Wilson had one of his strongest performances to date for the Panthers in a low scoring game and Forsyth was hopeful for his all-rounder playing higher honours.
“I thought he bowled incredibly well and it was a perfect follow to our opening bowlers… with the bat he strikes the ball incredibly cleanly and he is loving the opportunity to bat a bit higher,” he said.
“He is compiling a very, very productive season and we have loved having him come across to the club.
“He is playing some really strong cricket and I am sure he is on the radar for Second XI or futures league, because he is a wonderful fielder, can bowl different lengths, his bouncer gets on quicker and is incredibly accurate.
“I can see him improving a lot with the bat; he was the best player afield yesterday,” Forsyth said.
If Wilson was certain to get the six according to the Panthers skipper, he himself is likely to get the next best after a mature innings of 51 not out guided the home side to another win.
For Forsyth, 73 runs in five hits heading into the holidays break is rare, so he was relieved to get some runs in his column in a win.
“From a personal point of view, the situation of the game meant I needed to bat time and anchor in, getting back to a few of the things you enjoy doing as a batter,” he said.
“I was lucky to get through that new ball and then try and make sure I was there at the end.
“It is a bit different getting to Christmas and not being as productive with the bat as I would’ve liked, but for me that was a challenge to have a break and get back to basics.
“It was a bit of a relief I guess, to get to 50 and walk off with the win.”
The Panthers currently sit just outside the eight and will take on Essendon next week at Windy Hill with the intent to join the finals race.