Player of the week Liam Gwynne led Goulburn Murray Cricket to a comfortable title win in Bendigo.GEORDIE COWAN January 27, 2014 4:45am
Goulburn Murray Cricket found some form of redemption on Friday when it claimed the Bendigo Country Week division one title at Bendigo’s Queen Elizabeth Oval.
After winning all the round-robin games only to fall in the final last year, Goulburn Murray romped to a nine-wicket win against last year’s premier Ferntree Gully.
The Colts team came perilously close to making it a clean sweep for the association, but division two opponent Emu Valley reached the target in the final over with two wickets in hand.
The ease in which the division one team secured the Neil Pollock memorial shield was reflective of the manner it had played out the week, winning the first three games by comfortable margins before its only loss on Thursday.
Captain Michael Hill said it was ‘fantastic’ to win the title after what happened last year, even though he, Dylan Cuttriss and Adam Ward were the only players to feature in both years.
The team benefited from having three colts players come up to the team, Cameron Taylor coaching and having English players Liam Gwynne and Joe Taylor.
Man of the match Gwynne scored 75 not out, appropriately guiding the team to victory after a superb week in which he scored 489 runs at better than a run a ball.
He was at the crease with an aggressive Ward (53 not out) when the winning runs were struck on the last delivery of the 30th over.
Ward dominated the scoring in the 82-run partnership, hitting the ball crisply, with an especially notable straight drive bringing him close to his half-century.
Gwynne and Taylor (28) had put on 79 runs for the first wicket, having to negate a difficult period from opening bowlers Cameron Wheeler and Martin Weightman, playing at and missing a few deliveries.
Earlier, after rain delayed the start of play by more than an hour, Goulburn Murray bowled first in the reduced 40-over match.
Rochester United duo Liam Ringin and Cuttriss opened the bowling and set the tone for the restrictive nature of the bowling.
Both claimed wickets in their spells, with Cuttriss (1/33) bowling straight through to drinks at the 20-over mark, with the score at 3/68.
By that stage Ward had claimed his first wicket and he continued on after the break in conjunction with Keith Chalmers (0/38).
Just as Ferntree Gully was looking to accelerate, Ward (2/48) broke through to bowl the dangerous looking Jayden Bradbury (48).
Nick Bogar (42 not out), who is the reigning best and fairest winner for Ferntree Gully, then combined with Weightman (28) for a 51-run partnership.
Ringin (3/33) found a bit of spice in the pitch to cause some discomfort for both Nottinghamshire seconds player Weightman and Daniel Beyer, before striking twice in the second-last over as the batting team finished on 7/160.
The total could have been more, except for some excellent work on the boundary, with the fielders saving many runs.
Goulburn Murray made use of the 13 players in the team, rotating fielders on and off throughout the innings.
The bowlers did a terrific job to restrict Ferntree Gully to 160 after gauging 200 to be a par score, Hill said.
The captain said leading a country week team for the first time was challenging at times but overall a great experience.
‘‘It was a learning curve at times, but having Dylan Cuttriss and Adam Ward and guys like that to bounce ideas off and use is obviously really good,’’ Hill said.
‘‘Having Cameron Taylor as coach just adds that extra part and (you) know you’re not alone out there.
‘‘It was great to get the win and hopefully we can go up to Melbourne (Country Week) now and do the same thing.’’
■ The team suffered its only loss for the week on Thursday, falling 24 runs short of Murray Valley.
The unwelcome incident of the day came when Murray Valley batsman Daniel Vihm had an epileptic fit while batting, forcing him to retire hurt.
Cuttriss led the way for Goulburn Murray, taking 5/59 from 17.3 overs, with Hill (2/21) and Grant Wachter (1/57) the other wicket-takers as the opposition scored 230.
Playing at Bell Oval, Goulburn Murray started well in its reply with Gwynne and Taylor putting on 68 runs for the first wicket.
Once spinner Liam Evans removed Gwynne for 29, however, the middle-order wickets fell at a regular rate.
Taylor finished with 68, following on from his 97 on Wednesday and at 7/130, it appeared a heavy loss was in order.
Cuttriss (52), however, led a lower-order fightback for the team with Jake Toll (19) before being bowled out for 206.
Evans finished with 7/63 from 18 overs, while Ashley Quinn took 2/91 from 22 overs.
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Deputy Premier Peter Ryan and Deputy Nationals leader Peter Walsh are expected to make a significant and long-awaited bridge announcement tomorrow.
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Innovative irrigators are being encouraged to apply for a 2014 Rural Water Award and the chance to win a $2000 cash prize.
Three Benalla residents are speaking up to bring the issue of youth homelessness into the spotlight.
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