A vintage Mark Dwyer performance has seen the 2nd XI claim a wonderful victory over Dandenong. It was a battle of fourth vs fifth on the table, and a huge result for the boys after a disappointing loss to St Kilda the previous week.
On Saturday, we found ourselves 2/17 having lost the toss and been sent in on a dry wicket. Chris Thewlis joined Ben Rowles and they steadied the ship, getting us through to the first drinks break. However, Thewlis was adjudged LBW the first ball after drinks for 21, giving Dandenong the upper hand at 3/63.
In his first 2nd XI game for the club, Nick Dixon joined Rowles, and their partnership swung the game back into our favour. Dixon was able to get off strike regularly, picking up singles and driving through cover impressively. Rowles returned to some of his vintage form, playing all around the wicket and working well with Dixon, as they put on 90 for the fourth wicket.
Rowles was dismissed for 78 with the score at 153, but from there we weren’t able to capitalise from a position of strength. Dixon followed soon after with 59 to his name, but the wearing wicket and some loose shots saw us bowled out for 222. Henry Alexander, also playing his first 2nd XI match, contributed 23 very important runs to help us get to that total.
We had eighteen overs to bowl that night, and things didn’t start well. Josh Slater got off to a flyer, and it was only the introduction of Mark Dwyer was able to turn things around. His first wicket came from a ball that shot through off a crack to trap the other opener LBW, but his next two were traditional edges to the slips, and suddenly we were back in the game as Dandy finished the day at 3/69.
Kevin Prior replaced Jack McNamara the next day, and he was the one who got the big breakthrough of Slater, thanks to a stunning catch from Ben Rowles. Dandenong had their own replacement player in Cam Forsyth, who tormented the 2nd XI last year with a century, and looked like doing it again this year. Our bowling was much more disciplined on the second day, in spite of the wicket holding together better after a stint with the heavy roller in the morning.
We were able to force out Opanayaka just before lunch for 28, Dwyer taking a catch off his own bowling to end his 118 ball vigil. The cracks in the wicket started to take more of an effect, causing the batsmen to change their game and Steve Singh was the beneficiary of this in dismissing the opposition captain soon after tea. The seventh wicket to fall was to Kevin Prior, trapping the wicketkeeper LBW with the score on 193, providing some reward for his tight bowling on a pitch providing very little encouragement for the spinner.
Forsyth continued to control the innings with the bat, and looked like he had nearly done enough as he dragged the score up to 7/212. But Mark Dwyer, getting the ball to reverse, had one last effort within him – he managed to swing one back to dismiss Turner (2), and three balls later struck Thomas in front for a duck.
Forsyth took the single on offer the first ball of the next over from Prior, but three balls later Kevin was able to strike the number 11 in front and have him LBW to secure a nine run win. With quite a young team, it was great for the youth to see the example that “Verve” sets, and the development of “KP” over the past few seasons as they played match winning roles, and proving the ability to win from anywhere.
Hopefully this great win can provide some impetus for the rest of the club on Saturday as we enter the Christmas break, with the other three teams resuming on Saturday.