A CLASSIC innings by Dion Stratford led East Gambier to a resounding victory over Mil Lel in round eight of Barber Shield cricket at Scott Park on Saturday.
In his first match back from Outbacks’ duty, Stratford was in dominant form to score 104 runs in his unbroken 76-ball innings, which included 11 fours and six sixes.
He received strong support from Emerson Marks, who also enjoyed a special day with a four-wicket haul and an unbeaten half century.
The pair were the key architects behind the comfortable win in the one-day match, which was originally scheduled to be played at Frew Park.
Without captain Alex Hentschke, the Bulldogs opened the bowling with Marks’ off-spin and the move paid dividends straight away.
The left-arm orthodox bowler struck in the second over of the match when he dismissed Jarryd Burston lbw for two.
After the early wobble, Jonathan Allcock and Todd Carpenter steadied Mil Lel’s innings with a 27-run partnership.
But Allcock was also trapped in front and fell to Nathan Gore on 14.
Carpenter continued to increase the total with steady runs alongside Carey Megaw.
The pair were proactive at the crease until Carpenter edged a delivery on 23 to give Ash Dumigan his first wicket of the season.
At 3/53 East started to flex its muscles, as new-batsman Daniel Justin found life tough in the middle, despite his strong recent form.
Justin’s pain finished when he was stumped by Stratford for an 11-ball duck to be Marks’ second victim.
Mil Lel captain Jack Miller started his innings with his side in danger of being bowled out for a low total and settled in alongside the set Megaw to produce a fightback.
Megaw was the aggressor with five boundaries, while Miller ticked the strike over and pushed the team score close to triple figures.
However, Mil Lel’s momentum was wiped out by a damaging three-over spell by the Bulldogs’ bowlers.
Marks and Stratford teamed up to collect their second stumping victim as a combination to finish Megaw’s promising 35-run innings.
Just three balls later Miller followed his partner back to the pavilion after he was dismissed by Dumigan for 11.
Suddenly Mil Lel was on the ropes at 8/102 after Josh Jantosh and Craig Lock fell to Marks and Ben Clark respectively in quick succession.
Tail-enders Ben Thiel and Darcy Williamson rallied to compile a 30-run stand, but once the latter was caught for 16, Mil Lel was quickly bowled out for 141.
Marks was the pick of the bowlers with 4/41, while Clark and Dumigan claimed two each to ensure Mil Lel did not bat out its 40 overs.
Chasing an under-par total, East’s openers Darren Whitehorn and Matthew Hastings began with confidence.
Opening for the first time, the combination saw out the new ball and built a 38-run stand until Whitehorn fell for 19.
Four overs later, a double-strike by Megaw brought Mil Lel to life after he dismissed Hastings and Connor Little in the space of 12 balls.
At 3/59 both sides were in the contest, but Mil Lel’s joy was short lived, as Marks and Stratford teamed up to build a match-winning partnership.
After a steady start, the pair made batting look easy and chased the 82 required runs for victory comfortably inside 15 overs.
Stratford was in a brutal touch and smashed 20 runs off one Williamson over, while Marks was the perfect supporter at the other end.
The youngster put the final exclamation mark on the contest to bring up the winning runs with a boundary.
With the result decided, the duo piled on the pain and finished with an unbroken 160-run stand off 168 balls.
Stratford brought up his century in style with a four in the final over, while Marks completed his fine all-round performance with 52 not out.
Mil Lel could not find an answer, as the Bulldogs finished at an imposing 3/219, while Megaw and Thiel were the only wicket takers.