Positive Werribee turns up the heat

Werribee wicketkeeper Matthew Gudde dives to take one of his four catches, this one dismisses Altona opener Dylan Appleby. (Joe Mastroianni)

By Lance Jenkinson

The power of positivity was at the fore for Werribee on the opening weekend of the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association finals.

The Tigers kept their mindset in the present to record a thumping eight-wicket win over Altona in a one-sided qualifying final at JK Grant Reserve.

Tigers captain-coach Tim O’Brien insists his side was not dogged by past finals failures and there was no added pressure to perform as a result.

In their past two qualifying finals, the Tigers have desperately underperformed, bowled out for just 55 in a 109-run loss to Balwyn in 2016-17 and bowled out for 103 in a five-wicket loss to Melton last season.

“We didn’t feel the pressure,” O’Brien said. “We just went about our business.

“We’ve always had confidence in our cricket.

“It probably wasn’t even in our mind what’s happened previously.

“We know we’re a good two-day side and we had a good record against Altona, so we went in fully confident.”

It is onwards and upwards for Werribee now the qualifying final monkey is off the back.

The Tigers were dominant from start to finish, taking advantage of bowler-friendly conditions on day one and then leaving nothing to chance with a strong run chase.

O’Brien said the chance to bowl first, routing Altona for just 121, played a part in settling the qualifying final nerves for his team.

“It was a good toss to win with the rain there,” he said. “When you bowl first, the bowlers just do their work, so there’s a little bit of pressure taken off with bowling first.

“It would’ve been tougher batting.

“We got a couple of early wickets and put them under pressure.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Altona vs Werribee

Jonathan Burton and James Freeman were on-song with the ball early for Werribee. Burton took the early wickets with 3-24 off 16 overs, while Freeman struck later on to snare 3-45 off 18.

“With ‘Jim’ bowling quite quickly at one end and ‘Jono’ seaming the ball, it meant the batsmen never got settled,” O’Brien said.

Werribee spinner Michael Kelly produced his best figures of the season with 4-33 off 13.5.

Kelly took the big wicket of Altona top-scorer James Grubb for 47.

Werribee had a nervous start to its chase with Matt Dean and Andrew Ford removed cheaply.

At 2-24, the Tigers got an unbroken match-winning 97-run partnership between Shaun Dean (70 not out) and O’Brien (34 not out).

“Shaun batted absolutely beautifully,” O’Brien said. “I could just stay there and give him the strike.

“It didn’t put me under too much pressure.”

Werribee has advanced to the semi-finals, where it will face a trip to Yarraville for a two-day game starting on Saturday.

A regenerated Yarraville has been somewhat of a surprise packet this season, finishing in the top two despite losing some quality players over recent seasons.