By JIM TIMBERLAKE
GEELONG Cricket Club remains fourth on the Victorian Premier League ladder after an incredible tie last week against Carlton.
After only making 141 the previous week and with Carlton resuming at 6/117, the Cats’ bowlers knew early wickets were their only hope.
And that’s exactly what Jake Reed and Marc Carson delivered, claiming three quickies to reduce the visitors to 9/126.
But Carlton wasn’t to be denied and staged a fight-back, eventually drawing level before Reed had Tim Welsford caught behind for a memorable finish as the in-form speedster returned the excellent figures of 7/39.
This weekend the Cats travel to the Albert ground to take on Melbourne, which sits one rung above in third.
With Geelong’s solid form, there’s no reason to suggest the Cats can’t win this one.
Just when it looked like Geelong Cricket Association’s division one ladder was starting to settle, a huge weekend of unexpected results has thrown the finals race wide open again.
Sixth-placed Geelong West, which had been in top form since the Christmas break, would have been over the moon to dismiss Lara for just 101 on the back of 4/17 to Tim Wight.
But by the close of the play the Rams had collapsed to 7/40 after Luke Wilson also claimed 4/17.
While West is still only 70 runs shy of victory, the pressure tomorrow will be immense because a loss here could seriously jeopardise their finals chances, particularly with seventh-placed Murgheboluc piling on 313 against Highton as Mike Grozdanovski scored a fine 122.
If West can’t win the gap should shrink to just four points. With both sides facing a tough run home, it’s anyone’s guess who will participate in March action.
In division two, the clash of two of the heavyweights turned out to be a fizzer as Bell Post Hill flexed its muscle against a hapless St Albans Breakwater.
The Saints batted first and could only scrape together 108 after at one stage being 2/50.
For the Panthers, Ben Popovski (3/20) led the way in an even bowling performance.
In reply, veteran Tim Sells (52) ensured there would be no dramas in chasing a small total as his side finished the day’s play on 1/65.
It will be interesting to see whether Bell Post Hill uses Saturday for batting practice or presses for an outright result.
In division three, North Shore won the toss against Corio and elected to bowl in a decision that backfired.
Corio quickly moved to 3/200 on the back of Andrew Spengler (88) and Brett Nolan’s (83) positive batting.
After declaring at the tea break, North Shore had to face 41 overs and finished the day’s play on 6/46, Mitchell Grace (2/0) claiming the best figures after the ball was thrown around.
If Corio can grab some early wickets tomorrow, an outright win will be well within its grasp – a result that will shore up its position in the top six for the time being.