BIRREGURRA is on top-grade cricket’s winners’ list for the first time in more than three decades.
The Saints made their return to Division One cricket this season for the first time since the mid 1980s, with victory coming in their third outing after knocking off Warrion in a tight contest at Birregurra.
Commitments on Saturday could have cost the side its first win at the top after a lengthy period following three-key cricketers’ early departure during the contest.
But the cricketing gods were on the Saints’ side when Panthers skipper Jarryd Cranwell won the toss and elected to bat.
Birregurra wicketkeeper Peter Hanlon said the move allowed strike bowler James Rowan to fit in 10 overs, and take two key wickets, before leaving for a wedding.
“It was a really funny day, Jimmy Rowan had to go to a wedding so he bowled his 10 overs and was gone by 1.30.
“Rueben Dare had a wedding too, he opened the batting and having made two ducks in first two innings, made 23 and racked off, and Jason Schram had to go as well, so he whacked 33 and left.
“We had this historic day with only six of us left to celebrate.”
Warrion batted first and reached 9-161 thanks to 47 runs from Geelong AFL footballer Darcy Lang, who played his last game before pre-season football commitments begin this week.
Saints bowlers Dean Mahoney, 2-31, and Jack Melican, 3-31, took handy wickets for the victors.
Birregurra’s top-order finally found runs this season in a confidence-boosting innings for the competition’s newcomers.
Geelong-based cricket recruits Toby Sudweeks, 40 runs, and Sam Lowe, 34, led the charge as the Saints moved to 182 with the loss of only four wickets.
“Our two Geelong blokes Sam Lowe and Toby Sudweeks both batted really well,” Hanlon said.
“Sam batted for a long time and was very comfortable, and Toby came out when the run-rate had gone out to about six an over and looked really good.
“They’re both good cricketers but hadn’t managed to get away, and even Rueben batting for four overs and making 23, that could turn him around as well.”
Hanlon said the win had lifted Birregurra’s spirits on its homecoming to top-flight cricket following two tough matches against Apollo Bay and reigning premier Alvie to start its 2015-16 campaign.
“We could’ve seen a scenario where we were slogging away and not getting any results at all,” he said.
“So to get a win in our third game is a really good result.”