The inagural match of the Goulburn Valley Bush Bash League had something for everyone, with the first regional franchise cricket competition in Victoria setting off firmly on the right foot yesterday.
From run-outs off the bowlers’ hand at the non-strikers’ end to catches that became sixes as the fielder fell over the boundary — and everything in between — the GVBBL's initial contest between Hurley's Hotel Hounds and SRP Mud Dogs delivered entertainment in spades for the hundreds in attendance at Barooga Recreation Reserve.
Mud Dogs captain Mitch Winter-Irving put the new ball in the hands of the stars at his disposal after winning the toss, and with Hadleigh Sirett snaring the wicket of Dandenong all-rounder James Nanopoulos early it looked an astute decision.
But fellow Victorian Premier Cricket stalwart Tom Donnell (13), Kyabram skipper Kyle Mueller (34 from 25 deliveries) and Katandra leader Jedd Wright (39 from 31) got to work and promptly put plenty of runs on the board for the Hounds.
Mueller's and Wright's 39-run stand looked to be the most important of the innings and proved so in retrospect after an unlucky dismissal.
Wright had driven Brendan Scott back down the pitch, but a ricochet onto the stumps caught his partner short of his ground.
Despite Hounds captain David Newman (seven) farming Wright the strike nicely in a stand of 33, the innings was no longer destined for the heights it was on track for earlier.
A mix-up running between the wickets had Newman on his way, starting a collapse of 4-13 before Michael Archer (16 not out from 10) lifted his side to 7-140.
The total became 7-146 thanks to a six-run penalty to the Mud Dogs for a slow over rate, but could have been much less had the chances Wright offered at stages of his knock been snared.
Cade Mueller had the big-hitter caught on the boundary in the 12th over, but momentum from the grab carried him over the line.
It was the same fielder who then let slip a skied ball in the next over, but it was not long before Mark Nolan (2-22) was able to castle Wright and wrestle control back for the Mud Dogs.
Nanopoulos had the attempted defence of the total off to the perfect start when he drew a top-edge from Scott on nought, but needed Donnell's help to claim the catch after losing the ball in the sun.
The Dandenong skipper did not let his dual teammate down, pouching a diving effort after charging in from mid-wicket.
From there though the Mud Dogs took control.
Layton McCann slapped 40 from 24 deliveries, Nolan (24) and Keegan Armstrong (12) grafted crucial knocks and — despite the best efforts of Wright (2-17) — Joel Brett was able to steer the Mud Dogs to the first win of the competition.
Brett brought up victory by hitting Nanopoulos for three consecutive boundaries — the first of which cleared the fence — in the 18th over to finish with an unbeaten 32 from 20 balls.
Hurley's Hotel Hounds 7-146 (Jedd Wright 39, Kyle Mueller 34, Mark Nolan 2-22) lt SRP Mud Dogs 4-149 (Layton McCann 40, Joel Brett 32 not out, Jedd Wright 2-17).
Jedd Wright (Hounds): Despite finishing on the losing side of the ledger in the inaugural Crane Aid GVBBL contest, Wright showcased his all-round prowess with 39 from 31 deliveries and 2-17 off three overs.