THE penultimate round of the 2019 Australian Country Cricket Championships was played on Wednesday and the South Australian Outbacks failed to improve on their poor start to the competition, with a heavy defeat at the hands of Western Australia Country at Shepparton.
Off the back of a bye in round eight, the South Australian side was outplayed in all facets by WA at Vibert Reserve, which also easily defeated the Outbacks in the Twenty20 leg of the tournament.
The Outback’s winning chances seemed bleak from the outset after captain Matthew McInerney lost the important toss and was asked to field first before West Australian openers Aaron Burrage and skipper Timothy Hutchison attacked the new ball bowlers and put on a formidable 133-run opening stand.
The partnership was not broken until the half way mark of the innings when Mount Gambier’s Nick McInerney combined with David Golder to run out the WA captain, just a single away from his half century.
Mount Gambier bowler Kieran Ashby struck his first of two crucial breakthroughs when he clean-bowled the remaining opener Burrage for 87, an unlucky 13 runs away from a century.
Just seven balls later, Nick McInerney played his part in another wicket in the field with a catch to dismiss WA’s number three batsman for a low score.
At 3/148 the Outbacks sensed an opening back into the contest, however it was not to be.
Thomas Buchanan and Zane Marwick both scored at over a-run-a-ball with aggressive stroke play, with nine boundaries between them in a 127-run stand to ensure WA posted a formidable total.
It took the McInerney brothers to combine to find the breakthrough after Buchanan was caught by Matthew, bowled by Nick for a destructive 42.
Ashby was again the strike bowler when Mount Gambier wicket-keeper Dion Stratford stumped Marwick, who looked unstoppable after he scored 81 runs from just 67 balls.
Once the 50 overs were completed WA had reached 304 runs for the loss of just six wickets and set the bar too high for the South Australian batsman, who had to score above a-run-a-ball to achieve victory.
The run chase started poorly after both Outbacks’ openers fell cheaply, which left Mount Gambier pair Ashby and Matthew McInerney to try and rebuild the innings.
Both batsman took the attack back to the bowlers and hit a number of boundaries, including one over where McInerney hit a total of 18 runs.
Unfortunately just when the Outback’s began to look in good shape the wicket of Ashby for 19 sparked a middle order collapse of 6/30 which included the wickets of Mount Gambier representatives Nick McInerney (5), Stratford (0) and Matthew McInerney, who was the top order’s highest scorer with 29.
Those tragic nine overs left the Outbacks on the ropes with just two wickets in hand and an impossible 215 runs behind.
Some small lower-order resistance came in the form of top scorer Nathan Van Eekeren with 39 runs, which pushed the team’s total into triple figures in attempt to save his side from embarrassment.
By the time Van Eekeren fell to the WA captain, the loss was inevitable.
South Australia Country was bowled out for just 136 runs and lost by a comprehensive 169-run margin with 16 overs still left to bat.
The Outbacks were set to face Victoria Country yesterday in its final game of the competition, with full details not available at the time of going to press.