By Lance Jenkinson
Hoppers Crossing has a gilt-edged opportunity to break away from the conglomerate of teams in the middle tier on the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association ladder.
The Subbies east-west group has been divided in three levels so far this season: four teams forming a breakaway at the top, five teams striving for positions five and six in the top-six and four teams that seem off the pace.
The Cats are one of the teams in that middle bracket between fifth and 10th on the ladder, separated by just six points.
They are in the box seat against Croydon at Hogans Road Reserve, requiring just 98 runs for victory with nine wickets in hand.
“We need to win as many as we can to stay in that finals race,” Cats captain Justin Goegan said. “From fifth to about 10th is within a game of each other.
“It’s very close.” Hoppers Crossing is well on top of Croydon in a game it went into as warm favourites.
The Cats bowlers did the job, routing Croydon for just 141.
New ball operators Brett Smith (2-14) and Khush Talati (3-49) returned strong figures.
However, Smith had a premature finish to the game, due to cramping.
“There was a patch there where a few of their guys looked a bit shy of the short ball, so I said I don’t care how much we leak here, we’re in a good position, so bowl quick and fast and we’ll get them trying to hook or pull.”
Just as crucial for Hoppers Crossing was negotiating the final 14 overs of the day without too many wickets dismissed.
The Cats finished in a strong position on 1-44 with Cameron Nicol (26no) and Chris Henry (8no) still at the crease