Footscray’s belief is growing by the week in Victorian Premier Cricket.
The Bulldogs had no right to think 122 would be enough to beat Frankston Peninsula at the Merv Hughes Oval on Saturday, yet they were confident of being able to defend the total.
It turned out to be the second lowest score of any first XI game at the weekend, but the Bulldogs turned it into a winning one by bowling Frankston Peninsula out for 112.
Bulldogs captain Dylan Kight could only marvel.
“It is a crazy game, it definitely is after days like today,” he said.
“It’s easy saying it now, but we did genuinely think 122 was going to be competitive enough, but obviously we were well under par.
“There was plenty in the wicket and it never dried out during the day, so we knew if we bowled well, we could build some pretty good pressure on them and we did.”
Footscray’s innings was littered with failures, but it also told a story of some gallant performances against the tide. There were four ducks and four single-figure scores, but the Bulldogs found enough in the success stories to secure what turned out to be a winning score.
Hayden Butterworth was a pillar of the top order, maintaining a level of composure while the wickets tumbled around him. He made 33 off 80 and proved a steadying influence.
“He just stuck at it,” Kight said. “He played a lot of classy shots.”
Kight played a magnificent captain’s knock of 39 off 67 balls, including three fours and a six.
He was on his way to a big score until left stranded mid-pitch by a Hamish Winter-Irving call for a run that ended in disaster.
At least Winter-Irving made amends, producing a match-winning 25 not out to go with his 1-16 off 10 overs late in the day.
Winter-Irving was, however, out of pocket for a beer after running out his skipper.
“Hamish hit one to mid-wicket and decided to take off, I trusted him and I was out by a good half a pitch – he bought me a beer, so he’s trying to make up for it,” Kight said with a laugh.
“Hamish has been awesome this season. He’s found the form he had for the last two years leading up to the end of last year when he got injured.”
While Winter-Irving built tremendous pressure with his bowling, it was far from a one-man show.
Lucas Dredge bowled with ferocity to take 3-19 off eight, including the key wicket of Frankston Peninsula top scorer Brodie Symons, bowled for 39. Jonah Koch had the youthful enthusiasm to take 2-20 off five, while Dean Russ hammered the final nail in the visitors’ coffin with 2-18 off 10 overs.
Footscray’s memorable win solidifies its spot in the top three ahead of a blockbuster against ladder leader Carlton in the final two-day game before Christmas at Princes Park starting on Saturday.
“It’s a huge game,” Kight said. “It’s always a good contest with Carlton and they’re the benchmark this year so far.
“If we can get stuck in, do what we do and get away with a win, we can be top two by Christmas.”