Alec Smith scores big ton as South cruise to win in Greater Northern Cup

PRIMED FOR ACTION: New Westbury skipper Richard Howe reaches his delivery stride as South batsman Jeremy Jackson looks to set off for a run. Pictures: Phillip Biggs
PRIMED FOR ACTION: New Westbury skipper Richard Howe reaches his delivery stride as South batsman Jeremy Jackson looks to set off for a run. Pictures: Phillip Biggs

South Launceston sounded an ominous warning to the rest of the competition in its opening game of the Greater Northern Cup.

Led by a sparkling 155 not out from skipper Alec Smith, the Knights recorded a 66-run win over last year’s Cricket North runners-up Westbury to get their season off to the best possible start.

“It was a pretty good blueprint for the way we want to play our one-day cricket especially and I couldn’t be prouder of everyone,” Smith said after the game. 

“Historically over the last few years we’ve started the season pretty poorly and we had a few of our key players not playing today so it was really pleasing to get a win, I couldn’t be happier.”

Smith came to the crease in the fourth over after Matthew Battle dismissed James Lee and immediately set to work, putting on 40 with Jared Dakin before embarking on a match-winning 137-run partnership with Jeremy Jackson (48).

Battle and Richard Howe both grabbed two wickets for the innings but neither could stop Smith leading his side to 6-270 at the end of 50 overs.

If the total was too big to chase no-one told Shamrocks openers Dane Anderson and Kieren Hume, who had the score ticking along at nearly 10 an over to reach 0-65.

But with the rain came the pouring as Westbury lost its top four in the space of three overs, with Jack Young (3-27) the chief destroyer.

An impressive knock from Sean Stevenson (65) kept his side in the hunt but he eventually ran out of partners as the Shamrocks were bowled out for 204.

Smith said Young’s spell had been an important catalyst for the win.

“They batted really well to start with, Jack Young got hit a bit early but his last three overs of his first spell were fantastic to get a few wickets and get us back in the game. 

“We were able to really tie them down and I think once we got those few wickets we were sort of in control.”

New Westbury skipper Howe was positive despite the loss, saying his players would learn plenty from the first hitout of the season.

He also reserved praise for Smith’s effort, which took the game away from Westbury early on. 

WINDING UP: Westbury's Dane Anderson sends a ball into the keeper.

WINDING UP: Westbury's Dane Anderson sends a ball into the keeper.

“To go out and make 155 in the first game of the year is a pretty remarkable feat,” Howe said.

“They batted really well and got themselves in, they picked off our bad balls and played to their strengths.”

Howe said while his side’s top-order collapse was disappointing, he was impressed by Stevenson and James Tyson’s willingness to dig in and take their side’s total past 200.

“If you’re chasing a big total and you lose a clump of wickets it comes back to hurt you and unfortunately today too much emphasis was put on the middle and tail, but we know we’re in pretty good stead now.

“We made (204) chasing - most weeks you’d take that but unfortunately today we fell a bit short.

“It was a good start to the year and a good learning curve for a few of our younger fellas and at least we know where we’re at now and where we need to be for the rest of the year.”

RIVERSIDE got their season off to a winning start by holding off a gallant Launceston outfit.

The Blues reached 196 from their 50 overs after a strong middle-order effort and looked to have the game in the bag after tearing through the Launceston’s top order.

A late-order fightback gave the Lions a sniff of victory but they ultimately fell just short in what Riverside skipper Tom Garwood called “a good game of cricket”.

“It’s always good to get a win under the belt pretty early,” he said.

“Our middle order set the game up really well so that’s where the game sort of changed, our middle order batted deep into the 50 overs.”

Garwood said his team would take the points and look to improve for their next game in two weeks’ time.

“We’ve got the bye next week so we’ll take the momentum into that. 

“We’ll have a practice game next week and we’ll take a fair bit out of the game, but there’s definitely areas we need to improve on as well if we’re going to win more games of cricket.”

State underage representative James Curran was impressive in defeat, making a solid contribution with the bat and forming a promising bowling partnership with fellow leg spinner and new recruit Clayde White.

One of two debutants in a young Launceston side, ex-Lindisfarne spinner White didn’t go unnoticed in his first game, winning praise from captain Alastair Taylor.  

“A 17-run loss is a little bit disappointing but there’s certainly a lot of positives for us in there, our spin bowling was a big positive,” Taylor said.

“It was one of the better spells of from spin bowling from both of them, they didnt go for many runs.

“They didn’t get through a wad of wickets but they were very good.”

Taylor rued the 20-odd wides which helped push the Riverside total towards 200 but said his team would learn from the experience.

“There were a few soft dismissals so we let ourselves down in that department I think but there’s a lot of positives.

“At one stage there it looked like we could possibly get bowled out for 120 or 130 like in previous years but the lower order stuck around a bit longer and got us close to a winning position.”

Launceston will host an in-form South Launceston side next weekend.

Mowbray had the bye in round 1 and will travel to Westbury in round 2, while Riverside will spend next week on the sidelines.