CLUB CLAIMS TOP SCALP
HEATHCOTE cricketers are poised for a serious assault on the 2016-17 Northern United Cricket Association flag after a comprehensive victory over top side Dingee on the weekend.
It was always the plan of Heathcote cricket captain Corey Gilmore to find form towards the end of the season, acknowledging cricket is a team — not an individual — effort.
Convincing wins in recent weeks against Raywood and Bagshot have Heathcote in contention for finals.
On Saturday, the Heathcote team with increasing momentum hosted the league’s top side Dingee.
A strong Heathcote side was selected with only Joel Condon unavailable, as he was busy creating the floral arrangements for his engagement party.
The celebration and welcome relief for his teammates is the reduction of the groom-to-be’s vocabulary to just two words — “Yes, dear”.
Simon Osicka, who’s absence from the team with injury (writer’s block) in recent weeks, took Condon’s place.
The events of Osicka being unavailable and the team’s winning streak are possibly co-incidental of each other.
Captain Gilmore again won the toss and elected to bat. With this he ran in among his teammates pumping his fist knowing that his work for the day was already complete.
Taking his inspiration from club president Ben Harris that true leadership is about delegation, i.e. telling others what to do, Gilmore is safe in the knowledge that with the current leadership group the other ‘‘captaincy stuff’’ can now be delegated to those around him.
For example field placements to Harris, the batting line-up to Brendon Conforti and the captain’s knock to Luke Bell.
Curator Grant Baker unveiled a new pitch for 2017, a pitch so hard that it would make Chuck Norris cry.
With Gilmore’s toss, the opportunity went Heathcote’s way to bat first on Baker’s super highway.
Gilmore opened the batting with Darcy McLean and was out spooning a ball to square leg on the second delivery of the day, a selfless act from the captain to bring on form batsman Luke Bell.
Bell was merciless on any bowling that was too full as he continued his great season, which included a century for the regional association at country week.
McLean was dogged, confirming the classic opening batsman adage that is about balls faced, not runs scored.
Tight bowling from Dingee meant Heathcote was restricted to scoring just over two runs an over for the first 12 overs.
Once settled, McLean became more assertive and Bell began to dominate in terrific conditions for batting.
When McLean was run out for 43 in the 31st over, the partnership of 121 runs had set up the Heathcote innings.
Bell was out caught for 76 soon after. New batsmen Tim Gleeson and Brenton Conforti were quick to take on the Dingee bowlers as they looked to surge the Heathcote total.
Both batsmen launched sixes into the Barrack Reserve redevelopment as part of an 18-run over. This had Harris urgently reviewing the club’s insurance policy knowing that the new building’s structural work may not withstand the onslaught.
Conforti out for 20, a quick 10 from Harris and Gleeson not out on 29 saw Heathcote finish with 6/187 at the end of the innings.
Dingee, chasing a large total, started well with Kyle Patten in particular looking to take on the Heathcote bowlers. Tim Gleeson was brought on to bowl replacing Bell with the Dingee opening bats looking settled.
Gleeson, having taken two consecutive wickets at the end of the last game, was on a hat-trick, a fact everyone including Gleeson was oblivious to.
Bowling to the most regulation of fields, Gleeson presented an innocuous half-tracker to Darren Lawry.
The passive nature of the only poor delivery Gleeson bowled all day took the batsman by surprise and rather than smashing it to the boundary he hit it to Jarrod Findlay to be caught out.
Findlay, then bowling his leftarmers from the other end, was able to extract some kick out of the pitch and had the danger man Patten caught and bowled for 21.
Another wicket to Gleeson quickly had Dingee three wickets down in the 12th over. Despite restrictive bowling, from Gleeson in particular, Dingee began to dig in.
Pat Ring was reinstated into the bowling attack and with the aid of the keeper soon had another wicket.
Both Ring and Gleeson applied tremendous pressure with their bowling, conceding just 10 and 13 runs respectively off their eight overs each.
The excitable Kevin Bloom came on to bowl and had a wicket with his fourth ball which resulted in a celebratory leap in the air that would have done David Warner proud.
In noting the gratuitous nature of this event, one must consider Warner’s leap came after he was the first Australian batsman since Bradman to score a century before lunch where Bloom had got the seventh wicket for Heathcote that day. His joy was short lived as he soon put down a sharp caught and bowled chance.
The bowler stood there isolated, hands on hips and his eyes showing the seething deep inside his soul, knowing that the missed chance would feature in the constant loop in his mind of catches dropped off his bowling that plays endlessly night after night for Bloom.
Bloom was able to recompose and finish off the Dingee innings with another three wickets.
Dingee was all out for 109 resulting in a comfortable win to Heathcote. With Conforti not bowled, the Mitchelton player of the day was open to the other players and went to Tim Gleeson for his three vital wickets and his runs late in the innings.
Finals beckon for a Heathcote full of self belief and is now placed third on the ladder and has recently beaten the three teams around them.
Heathcote will be further strengthened with return of Joel Condon, who has been making plenty of runs late in the innings.
Gilmore is particularly looking forward to his return as he will send him, when fielding, from fine leg to fine leg with only the whimper of “Yes, dear” in response.
Heathcote bowler Pat Ring snared 2/10 in his side’s win over top team Dingee on the weekend.
Heathcote bowler Kevin Bloom (right) celebrates taking another wicket in his haul of 4/14. It is a known fact that he and the Energiser Bunny (left) have never been seen in the same room together.