Magpies bounce back with win over Devils

Focused: Wests batsman Blake Smith in action on Saturday. Picture: Robert Peet.
Focused: Wests batsman Blake Smith in action on Saturday. Picture: Robert Peet.

Defending Cricket Illawarra premiers Balgownie have bounced back from last week's defeat to Helensburgh to claim a four-wicket victory over Wests. 

With the pitch damp following Friday night's rain, new Balgownie captain Graeme Batty won the toss and opted to bowl. 

However, the wicket was deemed unsafe soon after play began, with some balls rearing up at the batsmen. 

After an hour-long wait for the pitch to dry out, Wests scratched their way to 145. The run chase wasn't easy for Balgownie, but they ultimately ran down their target in 32 overs.

“It was a strange game,” Batty said. “The wicket was a bit greasy, so we won the toss and bowled first.

“A few balls were rearing up early on and Wests decided to take their players from the field. After an hour wait, we resumed play and the wicket was fine. The umpires handled the situation very well. 

“It was a good result. We knew the wicket would be a bit sketchy for both sides and we had the better of the conditions. To get to 145 they did well and they put pressure on us with the ball. It was a feisty game between two clubs with a bit of history.

Wests captain Graeme Smith also praised the umpires for the way they handled the situation, while dismissing speculation he had pushed for the match to be abandoned. 

“There were a couple of balls that jumped out of the wicket, the first ball of the day reared dangerously,” Smith said.

“I had a chat with the umpire and he brought us off for an hour to give the pitch time to dry. When we came back an hour later, the conditions were much better and we scrambled to a reasonable total.

“They chased them six down, so it was a good game of cricket. If we had not come off for that hour, we would’ve been out for less than 50.” 

Batty has stepped into the role of captain after veteran leader, and club president, Jamie Fleming opted to stand aside as captain and is happy with where the Magpies are sitting five weeks into the season. 

“When we’ve got a full-strength team, we’re near impossible to beat,” Batty said.

“When we don’t, we’re quite beatable, so we’re looking forward to having our full squad back. It’s the same every year, we struggle for numbers before Christmas, so just need to get as many wins as possible to set us up for the two-day games.” 

When we've got a full-strength team we're near impossible to beat

Graeme Batty

In other matches on Saturday, a 150-run fourth-wicket partnership between James Chappell and Abdul Hashmi fired University to a comprehensive victory over Dapto.

After reaching 6-221, Uni bowled the Canaries out for 124, with Swapnil Bhatnagar claiming five wickets. 

Zac Blattner and Pushpinder Singh led Wollongong to a big victory over Helensburgh, while Butchers captain Rhys Marsh helped his side claim a five-wicket win over Corrimal. 

Lastly, Keira picked up their first victory over the season, defeating Port Kembla by seven wickets.

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