An excruciating two-run loss has not dampened Footscray’s enthusiasm for the inaugural Super Slam Twenty20 tournament.
The Bulldogs needed 12 runs to win off the last over against Essendon but just fell short in a thriller at Merv Hughes Oval.
Bulldogs coach Stan Nell praised both sets of players for the show they put on.
“It was a really good game of cricket,” he said.
“Two very competitive sides.
“We just fell short by a couple of runs, so we’re disappointed, but life goes on.”
The T20 competition has extra significance for Premier Cricket clubs this summer.
The top two sides in the competition will go on to play in a T20 tournament in Adelaide next year.
Footscray’s hopes are still alive, but the loss to the Bombers means it cannot put a foot wrong in its remaining matches.
While the Bulldogs have the one win, two of their matches were washed out and re-scheduled, so they can make up ground on the back of those results.
“We’re behind two games, so if we win those two games we’re a chance to play in the final in our conference,” Nell said.
“It’s become a case of having to win every game.”
While the carrot of playing in the Super Slam finals in Adelaide is enticing, Footscray is not approaching the competition as cut-throat.
The Bulldogs have opted to blood their youngsters in the competition and have not brought in a marquee player, which is allowed in this competition.
“We’re playing all our club players,” Nell said.
“We don’t have any imports and we’re not trying to be something that we’re not.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to give some of the younger players an opportunity to play senior cricket and for us to have a look at them in action.
“It gives them a chance to get a feel for what it’s like to play at that level.”
One youngster who impressed for Footscray in the defeat to Essendon was opening batsman Nathan Caulfield.
Set 159 for victory, Caulfield got the Bulldogs off to a cracking start with 48 off 32, combining for a 76-run opening stand with veteran Dean Russ, who made 28 off 24.
The duo of Dylan Kight (32 not out off 23) and Hamish Winter-Irving (26 off 16) got Footscray within touching distance, but the run rate just became too much to maintain grip in the end.
Nell was not too perturbed by the result.
“You can over-analyse it sometimes, but we played a good game and so did Essendon, but they came out on top,” he said.