Bloods make best of bad situation to banish Berwick

Jordan Mackenzie batted through pain to score a crucial half-century for Springvale South against Berwick on Saturday. 391023 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Marcus Uhe

The fifth ball of the 35th over of Springvale South’s batting innings against Berwick on Saturday may read simply as a single to Jordan Mackenzie off Elliot Matthews, but in reality it was considerably more significant in the context of the Dandenong District Cricket Association’s Turf 1 season.

As he completed the run, Mackenzie strained a quad muscle and was forced to limp to the non-striker’s end to make his ground.

At 5/181, Berwick was tightening the screws in a must-win game for their finals chances, fighting back into the contest after a typically ballistic 77 off 46 balls from Jordan Wyatt.

The Bloods lost 3/21 after Wyatt’s dismissal, with Mackenzie and Blade Baxter working singles and twos in the middle overs to bring some stability to the innings.

When Mackenzie pulled up lame and was in clear discomfort, Wyatt, “ultimate team man” in the words of Mackenzie, sprinted from the other side of the field from the rooms to put his kit on, in order to run for his injured teammate.

The injury had a double-pronged effect; Wyatt motored between the wickets as he and Baxter put the pressure back on the Berwick fielders, while Mackenzie simplified his approach, targeting the smaller square boundaries on the pavilion side of Arch Brown Reserve.

“In terms of the game it might have worked out in our favour a little bit,” Mackenzie said of his injury.

“I was struggling a fair bit, I think I was on (15) off (37) balls.

“They bowled really well and they were on-top for that little period when Yoshan (Kumara) went out and Cam (Forsyth) did too, the game was in the balance at 5/150 when Blade came out.

“I’ve had a few really disappointing outs this year which has probably played on the mind, a little bit.

“It helps everyone when you’re batting and you don’t have to think about running between the wickets. “That gave me an opportunity to regroup and play with a clearer plan.

“I had a clearer plan in my head, and it’s funny how, when you’ve got a clearer plan in your head, it really comes together.”

Mackenzie raced to his 50 off 55 balls, eventually falling in the 42nd over for 57, caught on the boundary going for one-too many sixes, Jake Hancock snaffling an excellent catch at fine leg.

He hit three sixes and four fours, with Baxter following suit in switching to boundary-hitting mode late in the innings.

Baxter finished unbeaten on 64 from 50 deliveries on a ground that harbors happy memories for the all-rounder, the scene of his Fleming Medal winning performance in last season’s grand final win.

The final 10 overs yielded 101 runs, the Bloods setting Berwick the task of chasing 285 to qualify for finals.

Berwick got a typical fast start out of Jarryd Wills but his stay was short lived, lasting just 14 deliveries before falling to Kumara for 25.

Matthew Hague and Hancock failed to make significant contributions and when the promoted Toby Wills fell for eight, the score read 4/70.

Jordan Cleland mounted a one-man fightback with 61 to give his side a sniff at an unlikely victory, but Springvale South looked back to its best, dismissing Berwick for 178.

Kumara’s exceptional new-ball spell netted 2/24 while Jarryd Straker bounced back from his first wicketless performance last week to claim 4/20 from his 10.4 overs.

The win snaps a rare two-match losing streak for Springvale South, a period which forced the back-to-back premiers to “get back to basics”, according to Mackenzie.

“I think the Buckley game, they played quite well but their batting on the day won that game,” he said.

“I really think the Narre South game, we let ourselves down in a few areas that we normally do very well – we weren’t great in the field, we bowled okay and we lost clumps of wickets as well, which is very uncharacteristic of us over the last few years.

“The Narre South game was a reality check, I think.

“When you look back, it’s probably panned out really well for us in that respect.

“While losing is not ideal, it’s part of cricket and you’ve got to accept that, and deal with it accordingly, and we’ve done that really well this week.

“It was good to have that game on the weekend where we had to rely on (numbers) five, six and seven to get us to a decent total.

“The batting performance was a complete batting performance and then we got the complete bowling performance. That’s really valuable the week before finals start.

“We’re looking very good at the moment and we’re feeling even better.”

Springvale South will host Buckley Ridges in a qualifying final this weekend.

The 106-run loss knocked the Bears out of the four, a spot they had occupied for much of the season.

The Bears welcomed a number of familiar faces back to the club this year in an effort to correct the wrongs of a disappointing 2022/23 campaign, but struggled to defeat the competition’s benchmark sides, winning just once against the four finalists in six completed matches.

Losing their final three matches, after sitting second at the conclusion of round 11, will leave a sour taste in the mouth over the off-season.

Jake Hancock enjoyed a sensational season, hitting 547 runs with two centuries and finishing fourth in the Wookey Medal, while Jarrod Goodes made a successful return from injury after missing last season, claiming 23 wickets.