Taylor Beard took 5/28 as Echuca took control of its match against Bunnaloo.By Geordie Cowan
Echuca has a terrific chance to push for an outright victory next week after a dominant first day’s play led by Taylor Beard against Bunnaloo on Saturday.
Playing at Victoria Park, the home side took control of the Goulburn Murray Cricket round six contest early and did not let up until the final ball was delivered, holding a 105-run advantage at the end of the day.
After Bunnaloo won the toss and batted, Echuca opening bowlers Beard and Simon Maddox made quick inroads into the visitors’ top order.
Maddox struck with his third ball of the day, trapping Luke Hartshorn in front, before he cleaned up Wendell Vagg just four deliveries later.
When Adam Thompson was spectacularly caught by Maddox with a one-hander at gully off the bowling of Beard not long after, Bunnaloo was in trouble at 3/7.
Justin Van Niekerk and Brad Jones then tried to steady the visiting side, combining for the team’s biggest partnership of 24, before Beard struck for the third time and bowled Van Niekerk for 16.
Beard (5/28) wrapped up his second career five-wicket haul in district competition with the dismissals of Scott Thompson and Grant Chalmers, before Jones and Angus McKindlay added 22 runs for the seventh wicket.
Jones was eventually bowled by Chris Russell (1/6) for 22 after spending almost 90 minutes at the crease, with McKindlay proving to be the only other batsman capable of impacting the scoreboard for the away side as he finished on 25 not out with the team dismissed for 86.
The end came quickly for Bunnaloo as Echuca captain Brendan Prendergast (2/1) and Maddox (2/27) took the last three wickets in eight deliveries.
The home side had the entire afternoon session to bat, but it did not waste any time chasing down the visitors’ total.
Adam Jones registered his second half-century for the season as he and Prendergast (21) put on 71 runs for the first wicket before McKindlay provided the breakthrough.
Jones was next to go after hitting 10 boundaries and one six in his quick innings of 58, but not before his team had overtaken Bunnaloo’s total in less than an hour.
McKindlay was again the successful bowler and he dismissed Beard (16) soon after.
Brad Jones stumped Todd Ramage (1) from the bowling of Adam Thompson (1/20) after the batsman had struggled to get going, with McKindlay (4/61) and Hartshorn (1/19) striking again to later remove Ben Langley (23) and Brandon Dixon (18).
Fraser Buchanan (18 not out) and Curtis Townrow (34 not out) remain at the crease in a 45-run unbeaten partnership as the home side finished on 6/191.
Echuca captain Brendan Prendergast said he was happy with how the day ended, but the team still had a lot to work on.
‘‘We are in a very strong position
‘‘We just managed to keep snagging wickets.
‘‘We bowled a bit both sides of the wicket and we were lucky they didn’t take as much toll as they could have.
‘‘We put down a few catches as well so there is plenty to work on.
‘‘But to bowl the opposition out for 86 and have a 100-run lead at the end of play is as good as we could have asked for.’’
The captain paid tribute to the bowling efforts of Beard, whose five-wicket haul was just reward for his season.
‘‘Taylor did bowl very well,’’ Prendergast said.
‘‘He is a guy who generally bowls well all the time, but he sometimes doesn’t take as many wicket for how well he bowls.
‘‘So it was good to see him get five wickets.’’
Bunnaloo captain Van Niekerk said it was a disappointing day.
‘‘I think we were beaten in every discipline of the game (on Saturday),’’ he said.
‘‘Echuca are a good side, but we can have no excuses.
‘‘The wicket was okay with a bit of variable bounce, but our wickets were not lost to that.’’
The captain said batting had been a problem for the whole season, which was further emphasised when Adam Jones came out and batted so well against his bowling attack.
‘‘Just time at the crease is pretty important and over the season we haven’t really done that,’’ Van Niekerk said.
‘‘I don’t mind not scoring quickly if we are not getting bowled out pretty shortly.
‘‘But when we needed to consolidate a few rash shots were played, which was pretty disappointing.
‘‘We have got a challenge to bowl them out next week and rectify that.
‘‘It will be good for a couple of guys to come in and get a few partnerships.’’
However, the performance of McKindlay was one highlight for the captain.
‘‘Angus McKindlay was one of the positives yesterday,’’ Van Niekerk said.
‘‘He batted nicely and bowled really well.’’
The 17-year-old, who the captain noticed a ‘‘big improvement’’ from, has recently returned from school in Geelong and will play the next few games with Bunnaloo.
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