The first day of the Wyndham derby was a frustrating one for Werribee and Hoppers Crossing in the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association at Hogans Road Reserve on Saturday.
Intermittent rain made for a stop-start day with 16 overs wiped out from the 80 allotted overs.
It has left the game at a crossroads with Werribee heading to stumps on day one on 6-142 off 64 overs.
With his side to complete the final 16 overs of its innings this Saturday, Werribee captain-coach Tim O’Brien said the first hour of play would be crucial for both sides.
“It’s definitely in the balance,” he said.
“The first hour next week will be pretty important. When we get a go with the ball, we’ll need to bowl well early.”
Matt Dean was the standout with the bat on day one for Werribee.
Playing in his 100th first XI game, Dean posted a patient 52 off 120 balls, including eight fours. In tough conditions, Dean showed all the other batsmen how runs could be made on the day.
“He batted particularly well,” O’Brien said.
“It wasn’t a free flowing wicket to bat on and you had to work hard for your runs.”
Shaun Dean (22) and Matthew Gudde (38 not out) picked up the slack after Matt Dean was trapped lbw by Hoppers Crossing leg spinner Sanka Abeyruwan.
Abeyruwan, who took 3-32 off 13 overs, was outstanding with the ball for Hoppers Crossing, snaring the wickets of the Dean brothers and O’Brien.
“There was a little bit of spin in the wicket and it was a bit two paced as well, so some balls did skid on and some balls turned,” O’Brien said.
“He was impressive, he bowled pretty well.
“We were lucky he came on so late – around the 30-over mark – because he would’ve probably done some damage if he came on a bit earlier against us.”
Werribee is aiming for a score around 200.
A lot of that hope rests on the shoulders of Gudde, who has played a disciplined knock so far and will need to guide the tail.
O’Brien is confident that it will not all be on Gudde though, pointing out that Jonathan Burton and Mick Kelly have done jobs with the bat in the past.
Matt Dean was not the only player to be celebrating a milestone in the Werribee firsts on Saturday.
Opening bowler Burton is featuring in his 150th club game.
Dean and Burton mean more to the Tigers than just numbers on a scorecard.
“Jono’s a leader for the bowlers,” O’Brien said.
“He’s always speaking to our quicks and coming up with good ideas.
“Matty would be one of the best fielders in the comp, so he’s important in that area for us.
“They’ve both played a lot of cricket, so if they see something in the field and something with the batters, they’ll talk to me and come up with plans we can go on with.
“They show leadership in different ways.”