A slow burn has likely cooked Footscray’s finals chances in the Victorian Premier Cricket.
The Bulldogs’ inability to chase down Camberwell Magpies’ sizeable target of 294 at Merv Hughes Oval on Saturday will almost certainly consign them to the finals scrap heap.
The desperate Dogs are now in second-last spot, 15 points outside the top eight and in need of a miracle with three matches remaining.
Bulldogs captain Dylan Kight was left deflated after his side was kept to 9-258 off 96 overs – 36 runs short of victory – resulting in the match being drawn and the points shared.
“It was disappointing,” Kight said.
“We had a good chance to chase down a big score, which we haven’t had too many chances to do over the past few years with this group.
“We got off to a pretty good start with Ash [Armstrong] and Matt [Underwood], but we sort of didn’t really get ahead of the rate or ahead of the game.
“We just found ourselves a bit short in the end.”
It is hard to be critical – cruel even – of Armstrong and Underwood from the cheap seats. The young openers bravely set a platform for Footscray with a 97-run partnership.
Underwood took the lead with 90 off 191 balls and Armstrong supported well with 23 off 96.
On another day and in another situation, the pair would be lauded for their partnership, particularly with the top shelf bowlers Camberwell was thrusting before them.
“They’re a good bowling attack,” Kight said.
“They’re obviously led by [Andrew] Fekete, who just gave us nothing all day and he bowled the house down.
“They’ve got a couple of left-armers in [William] Walker and [Matthew] Whittaker who do the same and don’t give you anything.
“They bowled to a 7-2 field and made it very difficult to score.”
However, this occasion required more urgency from Footscray’s top order.
Armstrong and Underwood combined for 174 dot balls – far too many when you have such a massive total to chase down.
Kight (30 off 68) and Dean Russ (23 off 67) were also kept in check, combining to leave 82 balls on the table.
Could the Bulldogs have chanced their arm a bit more? The benefit of hindsight says yes.
“It’s a double edged sword with the opening partnership,” Kight said.
“It was very good in one sense, but it also put us a little bit behind the eight ball.
“We assessed it as a batting group and at 0-97, you always take that, but when you’re chasing a score of 290, you still need to be conscious of the run rate, which we just let get on top of us.”
The Bulldogs tried to claw back the run rate in the middle order through Jordan Kight (37 off 55), Tallan Wright (13 off 18), Hamish Winter-Irving (24 off 42) and Siddhesh Dixit (13 off 13), but it fast became apparent the Magpies worm was too far in front.
So, it turned into a battle of survival for Footscray, with Winter-Irving and Jack Sheppard seeing out the final overs for a draw.
“We don’t set out to draw games, we set out to win or lose game, but that’s the way it is,” Kight said.
“When it got down to nine down and we had four and a half overs left, we couldn’t get the runs, so there was no other option really.
“You’re just trying to fight and not go all out.
“I’m proud of Hamish and Jack – hats off to what they did [to save the game].”
Footscray will hit the road to face Frankston Peninsula in a two-day game starting Saturday.
MORE PREMIER CRICKET