St Albans has produced its worst performance of the summer and paid a heavy price.
The Saints’ 121-run one-day loss to Druids in the VTCA north-west division on Saturday at Shorten Reserve propelled them out of the top-four and down to sixth as they enter the season’s home straight.
Saints skipper Tom Langley-Dunn was dismayed to see his side bowled out for 58 in their pursuit of the Druids’ 7-179, but a combination of factors were at play, not least a pitch that played low later in the day when his team’s chase was on.
“I’m not going to sit here and say the reason we lost the game was because of the pitch, but it played a major part,” Langley-Dunn said.
“When the pitch starts keeping low and you bowl stump to stump, it pays dividends. They bowled disciplined.”
His bowlers were the beneficiaries of a lively pitch early on, with some deliveries popping up off the cracks.
Later in the day, though, his batsmen struggled to contend with the balls that kept low.
One person who made best use of the conditions was Druids opening bowler Indika Gallage.
He left a trail of destruction through the Saints’ batting line-up, taking 8-20 off eight overs.
“He moved it a little bit early,” Langley-Dunn said. “He was just bowling straight and bowled very well. A couple kept low and then a couple of batsmen tried to play aggressive.”
Langley-Dunn concedes the defeat was a blow to St Albans’ finals chances, but he remains optimistic of making a late run to a top-four finish.
He believes that if the Saints sneak into the finals from their current position, they will be a dangerous proposition.
“If you can squeeze into finals winning three games on the spin, all of a sudden you’re playing good cricket and you’ve got momentum,” he said.
“We’re still playing teams around us, so if we win our last three, we can push ourselves into finals out of our own initiatives and our own winning ways.
“We’ve just got to play a bit better than we did today.”
St Albans will square off against Altona North on Saturday at Kings Park Reserve in what is shaping as a must-win game for both the finals-hunting sides.
“We’ve got to approach it the same as them – all games are probably do or die now,” Langley-Dunn said.
“They want to give it a fair shake as well and see what can happen, so I reckon it’s going to be a good, hard-fought game of cricket.”
In senior division, Keilor’s three-game winning streak has ended with a one-run loss to Tullamarine at Keilor Recreation Reserve.
The Blues remain third on the ladder ahead of a trip to Spotswood on Saturday.
Sunshine United has tiptoed into the north-west division top four with a five-run victory over Keilor Park.
In north-west B1, Sunshine Heights moved up to fourth with a comfortable 71-run win over Deer Park.