THE South Australian Outbacks bowed out of the 2019 Australian Country Cricket Championships with a heavy defeat against runners-up Victoria Country in their final game of the competition at Shepparton last Thursday.
Victoria Country won the toss and elected to bat, but it was the Outbacks who held the early advantage after they got the opening breakthrough with just the third ball of the match when Alex Hosking ran out Victoria opener Cameron Williams for a duck.
Not long after, Luke Wiese bowled Patrick Richards for five, which left Victoria Country in trouble at 2/26 and put the Outbacks in the prefect position to register just their second win of their campaign.
In their way was Victoria’s remaining opener Jordan Moran, who compiled a series of steady partnerships with the middle order to build a strong total and wrestle the balance back to his side.
In his time at the crease the score reached 3/144 with 15 overs remaining as Moran approached a big score and the Outbacks were in danger of conceding a total which would prove an elusive task to chase down.
However, from there the SA bowling attack again took the upper hand, which included three dismissals for Mount Gambier keeper Dion Stratford.
But Moran proved to be unmovable at the other end and scored frequent boundaries to allow the scoreboard to remain slightly in his side’s favour.
With the score at 7/188, Moran reached a defiant century before he hit a maximum to carry his team’s total past the vital 200 mark.
Shortly after the Outbacks blew a huge sigh of relief when Moran finally fell for a match-turning 111 off just 129 balls which included eight fours and two sixes.
That brought Layton McCann and Jack Rietschel together who remained at the crease for the rest of the innings to bump Victoria’s total up to 8/233.
The best bowling for the Outbacks was Joe Brown who as the only man to take multiple scalps with 2/43 on a day where all three Mount Gambier bowlers failed to take a wicket.
That vital lower order 25-run stand assured Victoria Country had produced a target their bowlers felt comfortable to defend against an out of form Outbacks batting order.
With their tails up, Victoria’s opening bowlers Tony Caccaviello and Ben Boyd produced threatening spells to dismiss captain Matthew McInerney and openers Peter Wilson and Stratford to tear through South Australia’s top order and at 3/37, their hopes of victory too.
Chris Graser and Ben Parish attempted to rebuild the run chase before a costly run out to end top scorer Graser’s resistance on 29 and spark another frustrating collapse for the South Australians.
The last seven wickets of the Outbacks innings fell for just 59 runs as Boyd with 3/28 led McCann, Rietchel and Caccaviello to allow Victoria Country to claim a comfortable double bonus-point win.
Moran’s heroics and another poor batting display put the finishing touches on a campaign the Outbacks would like to forget.
In some small consolation, Outbacks captain and Mount Gambier player Matthew McInerney earned selection in the All-Australian Country XII after he impressed through his on-field performances and leadership.