Goulburn Murray Cricket came close to winning the Bendigo Country Week division one title but was unable to overcome Ferntree Gully on Friday.By Geordie Cowan
Goulburn Murray Cricket ended its assault on division one Bendigo Country Week on a low after it was defeated by Ferntree Gully in the final on Friday.
However, the team can still take pride from its undefeated run during the qualifying games before it fell 53 runs short of Ferntree Gully’s 219 at the Queen Elizabeth Oval.
‘‘There’s got to be a winner and a loser and we just didn’t play our best cricket,’’ coach Barry Findlay said.
‘‘Our bowling and fielding were good, just with the bat today we lost wickets at crucial times.
‘‘We would look like getting a partnership that might have got our noses in front, then we’d just lose a wicket.’’
After being sent in to bowl against Ferntree Gully — a team the side had defeated by three runs the day before — strike bowler Colin Griggs (2/59) got the team off to a perfect start with a wicket on the fourth ball of the day.
However, Gully then took over and although Adam Ward (3/70) dismissed Luke McComb (31) with the score on 41, Robbie McComb (41) and Josh Henry (52) threatened to take the game away from Goulburn Murray.
The pair added 88 runs for the third wicket before David Currie provided the breakthrough as Goulburn Murray took 4/29 to halt the opposition’s charge.
Some late runs from Marshall Bunting (42 not out) pushed the total up, but Findlay said the team was confident of chasing down that total.
‘‘I think from 2/120 they realistically could have scored 260, but we were good enough to take four really good catches straight after the second drinks that restricted them,’’ he said.
‘‘Before we started we said we were aiming for 215 or under, so we rated ourselves a good chance.’’
However, the team was unable to find the form it had shown with the bat earlier in the week and was under pressure from the start.
Brendan Prendergast and Tim Maxfield put on 100 runs for the first wicket against the same opposition the day before, but a calculated bowling attack saw both openers dismissed before six overs had been bowled.
It was an unfortunate end to the tournament for the team’s top two scorers with Prendergast and Maxfield having scored 191 and 189 runs respectively — although the Echuca captain faced more than 300 extra deliveries for his tally.
Michael Hill and Goulburn Murray captain Dylan Cuttriss then added 45 runs for the third wicket and were on target, before Hill (24) fell in the first over after drinks.
Wickets kept falling and when Cuttriss became Adam Dobb’s fourth victim after a well-made 60, the match was essentially decided as the team was dismissed for 166.
‘‘We just couldn’t get ahead with that solid partnership we needed,’’ Findlay said.
‘‘(Ferntree Gully) fielded really well and bowled well and they just outplayed us on the day.’’
The coach said it truly was a team effort which earned Goulburn Murray a berth in the final.
‘‘Everyone in some way, whether it be a really good catch — like Jake Perry took five or six for the week at crucial times — they all contributed,’’ Findlay said.
‘‘I thought Dylan Cuttriss led from the front with his captaincy and he bowled really well each day. Then his 60 in the final was a real captain’s knock.
‘‘Michael Hill and Adam Ward’s fielding was just outstanding.
‘‘Maxfield’s opening batting was really exciting. I feel for the bowlers bowling to him for the rest of the year.
‘‘Brendan Prendergast came down in 2011 and made 10 runs in five hits — he’s had three fifties for the week.’’
Griggs and Ward (11 wickets) also put in a mountain of work with the ball, combining to deliver more than 100 overs, while Currie and Cuttriss were also handy.
Findlay, who is based in Bendigo, said it was a good week overall.
‘‘I’ve been involved in a lot of country weeks and rep teams and the group of blokes that we had, they were as good a group that I’ve been away with,’’ he said.
‘‘They gelled together really well.
‘‘It was a good advertisement for the two competitions coming together under one banner.
‘‘They’ll go back tomorrow and be fierce rivals, but that’s what country week is all about.’’
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