Yarraville opening bowler James Keenan was in his element on Saturday, putting his side into the box seat after day one of its clash with Werribee in the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association south-west group at Chirnside Park.
Keenan was at his devastating best, taking 5-38 off 11.3 overs and making the most of conditions suited to his swing bowling.
Suffice to say had it not been for Keenan’s five-for, Werribee would have far exceeded the 209 it made.
Keenan’s haul was about quality over quantity, snaring the big scalps in the Werribee line-up, including Shaun Dean and Tim O’Brien cheaply and the leading run scorer on the day, Chris Hennessy, for 71.
“The conditions were perfect for him to swing the ball,” Yarraville captain Nathan Allen said.
“He’s just an awkward bowler to face and he’s got a knack of getting the big wickets, which helped us early.
“Getting O’Brien and the Dean boys out cheaply put them on the back foot.”
Werribee was taken aback by the proficiency of both of Yarraville’s new ball operators.
The Eagles were served well by playing coach Matthew Grose, who took an economical 2-28 off 17 overs.
Grose’s first spell was highlighted by the wicket of Matt Dean, the danger man who made 97 the week before.
And Grose came back on late in the day for a second miserly spell when Werribee appeared to be getting away from them.
“He found a really good rhythm and made it tough for the batsmen to score early on,” Allen said.
“Then they had a good partnership going and he did it again with his second spell.
“It really helped us keep them to 209 and not let the score blow out to 230 or 240.”
At 7-96, Werribee was crying out for a big partnership and the hosts got it through Hennessy and Jonathan Burton (62 not out), who put on 93 for the eighth wicket.
It spoiled the work of Yarraville’s bowlers somewhat, but Allen is adamant it was still an overwhelmingly positive day for his side.
“We put them on the back foot straight away, but to their credit, they fought back and passed 200,” he said.
“It was one of those days where if you had’ve told me at the start to the day that we’d hold them to around 200, we would’ve taken it.
“Coming up to next week, I’ve got no reservations about chasing that.
“We’ve only made under 200 once this year, which is a good sign for us going into next week.
“It’s not the easiest pitch to bat on, so we’ve got to work hard and try to bat all day and grind out the runs because Werribee are not going to make it easy for us, but I think if we can bat our 80 overs, we can get the job done.”
Meanwhile, Williamstown has plenty of work in front of it if it is to preserve its spot at the top of the ladder.
The Seagulls could only muster 165 against Oakleigh at Warrawee Park with Brenton Hodges (45) and Matthew Twentyman (44) leading the way. Oakleigh is 0-21 in reply.
Altona faces an uphill battle against Hoppers Crossing after it was bowled out for 190 at Hogans Road Reserve.
Adam Yates top-scored for the A’s with 45.
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