Werribee’s middle order stands up

Christopher Hennessy. Photo by Damjan Janevski.

By Lance Jenkinson

Werribee gained insight into its middle to lower order batting when its top four batsmen flunked the test against Yarraville in Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association south-west at Chirnside Park on Saturday.

The Tigers’ top order is usually so dependable that its less recognised batsmen have little chance to show their wares for anything more than late big hitting.

But on Saturday, they were in all sorts of trouble early on to be 4-21.

The Dean machine, brothers Matt and Shaun Dean, ground to a screeching halt.

The previous week, they combined for a superb 148-run partnership, but on Saturday they came back down to earth with a pair of ducks.

First drop Andrew Ford’s time in the middle was fleeting en route to 12, while captain Tim O’Brien could manage only four.

The rescue missions would fall to the Tigers’ middle order batsmen.

They thrived with the extra responsibility – much to the delight of their skipper.

“It was very pleasing that we were able to recover the way that we did after being in a pretty ordinary position,” O’Brien said of his team’s 209 in 68.3 overs.

“It was great to see other players standing up, because it shows if it happens again later on in the season, we’ve got other players we can rely on … it’s a real positive.”

The tide turned on the back of a partnership between Chris Hennessy and Adam Alifraco.

Alifraco was the aggressor with a quickfire 26 before luck went against him.

“He was looking really good out there,” O’Brien said. “Unfortunately, he got one off a spinner that kept low and he got done lbw.

“It was a vital partnership, that one, to get us back on track.”

Even so, the wickets continued to tumble, with James Freeman and Matthew Harmer going cheaply as the Tigers stumbled to 7-96.

One constant for Werribee was Hennessy.

The captain of last year’s second XI premiership was magnificent with 71.

“He’s had a really great start to the year and been able to put some good scores together,” O’Brien said.

“He just hit the ball along the ground and when the ball was in his zone, he was able to hit it really well.”

Adam Alifraco. Photo by Damjan Janevski.

Photo Gallery: Werribee vs Yarraville 

It was not until Jonathan Burton joined Hennessy at the crease that the Tigers really started to cause headaches for Yarraville.

Hennessy and Burton provided a hugely important 93-run eighth wicket partnership.

Burton’s contribution to the total was an eye-catching 62 not out.

It was not that long ago that Burton was considered a genuine tailender, but now he is serviceable with the bat and trending up.

“He’s got a lot of confidence in himself with the bat now and he’s starting to reap the rewards,” O’Brien said.

“He’s not one of those ones who slogs them – he builds an innings. He does play his shots, but they’re low risk.”

Both sides feel they can secure victory on day two. Yarraville will resume on 0-7, requiring 203 more runs.

O’Brien believes Werribee can defend the relatively small total.

“Runs on the board at Chirnside are important because it’s a hard ground to chase on,” he said. “We’ll be up and about at training this week with a focus to restrict Yarraville to get the win.”

Hoppers Crossing requires 191 runs this Saturday to win against Altona at Hogans Road Reserve.

The Cats were dominant with the ball on day one, led by first-change Bryce Stuart, who took 3-32 off 10.2.