A six-wicket loss to Dandenong has taken some of the gloss off an historic day for Footscray in Victorian Premier Cricket.
Dean Russ, one of the club’s favourite sons, broke the Bulldogs first XI games record on Saturday, featuring in the top side for an unsurpassed 249th time.
‘Russy’, as he is affectionately known, eclipsed the 248 first XI games played by Rainer Reber.
Russ will become the first Bulldog to reach 250 top-flight games if he dons the whites against Prahran in a one-day game at Mervyn Hughes Oval on Saturday.
Footscray captain Dylan Kight described the loss to Dandenong as “disappointing”, but he quickly turned his attention to heaping praise on Russ.
“That record had been standing for a fairly long time,” Kight said.
“There’s only three players to get past the 200 games mark and Dean will be the first of them to get to 250.
“He’s not showing any signs of slowing down.
“He’s actually getting better and better, so that number is going to keep going.
“He has really powered to it.”
Footscray could only muster 8-200 off its 50 overs in a disappointing outcome.
Kight lamented the “stop start” nature of the innings that saw the Bulldogs lose wickets at inopportune times.
“We were probably looking at 220 to 230, which is what we thought was around par,” Kight said.
“We just stumbled in the middle overs and didn’t have any extensive partnerships that got past that 50 to 60 mark.
“The times where we looked to have a partnership going, we lost a wicket.”
Matthew Underwood was outstanding for Footscray with 69 off 99 balls.
Underwood either opened or batted at three last year, but a move to No. 4 in the order seems likely to stick.
“We just think four is the best spot for him and the best way to develop his game,” Kight said.
“He tends to be a boundary hitter and scores a lot of runs in boundaries, but there’s areas in between those boundaries that we think he can improve on and No. 4 is the best chance for him to do that.”
Russ scored 42 on his big day.
The opener did so in quick time off 47 balls with six fours and a six.
Russ spent the first half of his 16-year first XI career as a wicketkeeper-batsman, but the past eight solely as a batsman.
“He’s averaging up around the 50 mark in the last eight years alone,” Kight said. A late flurry from Hamish Winter-Irving, which saw the lower order batsman blast 28 off 15, ensured Footscray would reach 200.
It was not enough for the Bulldogs to defend as Dandenong passed the target four down in the 43rd over. Comrey Edgeworth (54) and Lincoln Edwards (79 not out) led the Dandenong charge to victory.
Winter-Irving was the lone multiple wicket taker for Footscray with 2-38 off 10.
Footscray will enter its home clash with Prahran on Saturday with a 1-1 record.
The Bulldogs will also travel to Frankston Peninsula on Sunday to round out a busy weekend of action.