Wicket ‘chaos’ unfolds

Chaos unfolded on a tricky McCorquindale Park pitch between East Gambier and Penola in round 9 of the 2020-21 Hoggies Wines Barber Shield on Saturday. No less than 19 wickets fell on the opening afternoon of the two-day match, but the Bulldogs emerged from the battle with first innings honours.

After the home side won the toss and elected to bat, the drama began on the third ball of the day when Alex Hentschke found the edge of Jack Mullan. The early strike was the first chapter of the East captain’s fiery five-wicket haul which put the Eagles on the path to destruction.

Lachlan Jones and Lewis March fought hard, but were both back in the pavilion after Hentschke’s fourth over. Penola enjoyed a brief respite after Thomas Clayfield and Mark Smith survived 11 overs.

Smith did well to keep out the pace of Hentschke, but he could not cope with the spin of Kev Thomson. With just 23 runs from the first 19 overs, the scoreboard was at a standstill and Raymondo Stanton could not turn the tide with a duck.

Clayfield climbed all the way to double figures, but shortly after the milestone he became Hentschke’s fifth victim. Thomson’s spin remained a threat and he extracted the edge of Matthew Sullivan’s bat, while Josh Doyle was run out one ball later.

Despite missing out on the team hattrick, Travis Younghusband joined the party and Penola was staring down the barrel at 9/51. Some late hitting by Waters boosted the score to 76 before he became Younghusband’s second wicket to wrap up the innings. The star was undoubtably Hentschke, who finished with the mind-blowing figures of 4-11-5-9.

After being rock and rolled for 76, Penola needed early wickets and its new-ball bowlers targeted the soft patch on the pitch which created variable bounce from a full length and made life difficult. Disaster almost occurred straight away after Leigh Von Duve survived a close run out chance.

But the Eagles only had to wait two balls to see the back of the opening batsman after Mullan snaffled a sharp slips catch. Despite a wayward start, Doyle soon found his rhythm and sent Connor Little packing.

In consecutive overs, Thomson and Dion Stratford both perished chasing deliveries outside the off stump. Suddenly at 4/7, the tension in the Bulldogs’ dressing room was unbearable and youngsters James Sullivan and Emerson Marks were engulfed with a wall of pressure from Doyle and Waters.

But the inexperienced pair fought through 12 overs and pushed East past the halfway mark. Marks was the aggressor and played some nice drives, while Sullivan trusted his defence. After scoring 30 pivotal runs, Marks was trapped lbw by Jones. Hentschke believed aggression was the best mode of defence and tried to swing his team to glory.

But he could only manage a quick-fire 21, while Sullivan’s gritty 72-ball seven finally came to an end shortly after. At 7/68, the Eagles still had hope, but Younghusband slowly guided the visitors to safety. The dramatic day finished on a wild note after 16 runs and two wickets occured in the final over.

As a result, Younghusband fell for 26, while East resumes at 9/97 with an outright win still a possibility.

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