West Gambier is on the hunt for a rare outright victory over Mil Lel when play resumes in the rivals round 9 Hoggies Wines Barber Shield clash on Saturday. After a dramatic batting collapse, Mil Lel wishes it never received the home-ground advantage after a last-minute venue change from Malseed Park to Frew Park due to a wet pitch.
Mil Lel was sent to bat and could not even last until the tea break after being skittled for 50 inside 33 overs. The chaos started when Sam Willis ripped through the defences of Craig Lock for a duck in the third over. Dot balls were the order of the day as Mil Lel struggled to score more than one run per over in the early stages.
After Tim McInerney fell to Sam Willis, Mil Lel fought its way to 2/23, but the scorecard took a turn for the worse afterwards. Captain Miller became Willis’ second victim, while Nick Walters bravely progressed to 15.
Unfortunately for the home side, he was the only player to reach double figures as the wickets tumbled after he fell two balls post drinks. Daniel Justin was given a life on three, but could only score two more runs before he chopped a Justin Dejong delivery onto his stumps.
Youngster Darcy Williamson hardly had a chance to blink before he was involved in a terrible mix up between the wickets as the red-hot Roos put on a fielding exhibition. Quick hands by Sam Coxon at gully and a diving effort by Willis at square leg accounted for Logan Gibbs and Carey Megaw respectively.
Niall Easterbrook then cleaned up the tail to finish with the eye-popping figures of 4/7 from his 6.1 overs. Willis and Dejong also claimed two wickets each as all four bowlers used were successful.
Despite the disappointing effort with the bat, Mil Lel responded perfectly with the new ball. After Megaw snuck past the defences of both West openers Easterbrook and Jack Geddes, the hosts had reasons to believe. However, Connor Prior and Jake Blackwell managed to fight through the initial challenge of settling in and spent some time at the crease.
They manipulated the strike and kept the runs ticking over with Blackwell finding the boundary more regularly and Prior picking gaps in the field. The pair guided the Roos to safety and first-innings honours with eight wickets in hand.
But after Prior was dismissed by Miller for 31, West captain Richard Crute declared with a lead of just 12 and Blackwell not out on 24. The aggressive call forced Mil Lel to pad up for a tricky 23-over period before stumps. After both openers were knocked over by Willis cheaply, another collapse could have been on the cards, but Miller (18) and Walters (11) held firm and survived until stumps.
With a slender lead of 34, Mil Lel faces a fight to deny the Roos a chance of an outright win during an intriguing second day this weekend.