The Bucks are back

Michael Davies was once again important for Buckley Ridges. 229792. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Tyler Lewis

Buckley Ridges has sent an imposing message to the rest of the Dandenong District Cricket Association.

In a rivalry like no other in this competition, the Bucks edged out old foe Springvale South to regain its familiar ground atop of the Turf 1 ladder.

Skipper Ben Wright opted to bat at the toss and at 4/76, his side needed him to deliver an inspiring captains knock.

Deliver he did, combining with 2017/18 Alan Wookey Medal winner, Michael Davies, for a pivotal 98-run partnership.

Though worthy of a century, Wright fell just seven runs short of the triple-figure milestone, in a 112-ball, 151-minute knock, that included 11 fours and two sixes.

Davies (50 from 72 balls) went swiftly after his skipper, following his footsteps to the pavilion without a run on the board.

The departure of the two set-batters at the latter stages of the innings allowed for some power-hitting from the tail, to which Matt Goodwright obliged, thrashing an unbeaten knock off 44 from just 33 balls.

While already back in a competitive position succeeding the Wright and Davies partnership, the late onslaught shifted the score to 8/228, and more importantly, the momentum well and truly in the Bucks favour.

Davies chimed in again for the Bucks with the new ball, dismissing danger-man Ryan Quirk early in the innings.

The dismissal of Quirk was a demonstration of the shift in momentum, with Bucks star Mahela Udawatte taking a one-handed blinder in the third over to send Quirk packing.

Quirk’s withdrawal from the crease brought the all-important Jordan Wyatt to the wicket and the in-form Bloods bat was on the immediate attack.

He swiftly raced to 18 from 16 balls with two fours and a six, before he put one in the gloves of Bucks’ gloveman Troy Aust…up to the jump off the bowling of Suren Ekanayake.

From then on, Springvale South struggled to compile a big enough partnership to win the match.

While quick wickets weren’t a concern for the Bloods, steady wickets seemed to fall right when they appeared to be working back into the game.

Four players reached over 20 (Mitch Forsyth 34, Blade Baxter 36, Akshat Buch 27 and Kyle Martin 39 not out), but none were able to go on with their start and capitalise on a big, match-winning score.

Though there were steady starts for the Bloods batters, the now second-placed Springvale South unit fell just 25 runs short, dismissed in the 43rd over for 204.

The regular wickets of the Bloods was a major credit to the Bucks bowling group, with five of the six used bowlers claiming a wicket.

The bowlers were also complemented excellently by Aust, who stuffed the stat sheet with the gloves, hanging on to two catches, snaring two stumping’s and holding his composure with two run outs.

St. Mary’s, meanwhile, could very well have its first Wookey Medal winner since Steve Myer in 1993/94, with all-rounder Kusan Niranjana continuing his mighty season with a virtuoso like performance on Saturday.

While the Saints failed to chase down the 10/212 set by North Dandenong, Niranjana is likely to collect two, if not three, Wookey Medal votes.

In the first innings, Nirinjana was the leading wicket-taker for his side, with figures 4/66 off 12 overs, continuing his run of at least one wicket in each of his outings this summer.

In the second innings, Nirinjana carried his bat in a lone hand, scoring 53 of the Saints’ 95 runs.

Nirinjana’s season record reads as: 150 runs at 37.5 and 15 wickets at 15.6.

Reigning premiers Hallam Kalora Park have moved a game clear of Narre South inside the top four, after defeating the Lions in style at the weekend.

Hawks skipper Jordan Hammond sent the visitors in at the toss; a brave decision given the Lions – before the match – had lost the second least wickets across the competition, behind only Berwick.

But Hammond’s decision paid dividends, as he himself dismissed his menacing opposing captain and Lions top order bat, Kyle Hardy.

The Hawks added another swiftly after, firmly pushing the Lions on the back foot early at 2/15.

Each of the five Hawks bowlers used collected a wicket, with Hammond (12 overs: 2/41) and Sachith Jayasingha (12 overs: 2/31) being the key contributors in restricting the Lions to 8/145.

While the home side lost opener Ben Hillard early, Hallam Kalora Park coasted home off the back of starts from a trio of stars: Leigh Booth (46 from 84 balls), Matthew Cox (34 from 75) and Hammond (36 not out from 38).

The win now takes the Hawks one win, and a far stronger percentage, ahead of the Lions in fifth.

Berwick, meanwhile, remain in the log jam that is second, third and fourth on the DDCA ladder, after achieving what it simply needed to do against the last placed Narre Warren unit.

The Pies opted to bat on a hot day at Sweeney Reserve and put in a strong effort with the willow, posting 10/170.

The strong effort came off the bat of skipper Cameron Dinger – who blasted 75 from 82 balls – after his side had an early shake at the top of the order.

Dinger’s opposing skipper James Wilcock had the new ball on a string, claiming 3/40 from 11 overs, while the ever-green Jarrod Goodes was also among the poles with 3/23.

The Magpies put in a valiant effort in the second dig, but it was ultimately the Bears who demonstrated their class when it mattered most.

Opener Jordan Cleland (64) and Matt Chasemore (51) aren’t short of that aforementioned class, and proved it superciliously, with two brilliant half-centuries in Berwick’s four-wicket win.

The Bears are now only percentage behind second placed Springvale South.

Next weekend, the Bears will welcome its 2020/21 grand final opponent to Arch Brown Reserve, in the second grand final re-match of the summer.

In the other matches: Springvale South will travel to Narre Warren; North Dandenong will host Narre South at Lois Twohig Reserve and St. Mary’s will cross the road to Pultney Street to take on Buckley Ridges.