WHILE results mostly panned out as expected in these Christmas clashes, the true festive spice was added by bowlers in Ballarat Cricket Association club firsts.
Sure, East Ballarat got the five runs it needed to defeat Brown Hill – the Hawks did so within the first overs’ play at Western
But it was Bulls captain Jason Knowles who added bite with a three-wicket over in his second over on day two – on the first, third and fifth balls.
It might not have been a hat-trick, nor was Knowles on a hat-trick, but it definitely put some angst into the Hawks’ efforts to bat on for awhile.
Simultaneously at Wendouree, sixteen-year-old Red Cap Austen Prendergast was doing most of the damage.
Ballarat-Redan had been steadily chasing the Red Caps’ 270 runs to tea and, at 5-153, looked a chance.
Little did the Combine know that fifth wicket sparked an horrific collapse – they lost their final six wickets for just two runs.
The Combine lost their last eight wickets for 20 runs.
Prendergast finished with 4-27. Three of his scalps were cleanly bowled, the other dismissed lbw.
Knowles did not slow momentum either after his three-wicket over.
The Bulls’ skipper nabbed wickets in his next two overs and, with a wicket from day one, finished with a 6-36 haul off 10 overs.
Paceman Matt McMahon and young gun Billy Hoye chipped in a wicket each on day two as the Hawks’ built a 143-run innings for a 49-run win.
The Bulls then batted a little until tea, making 3-45. Hawks Josh Brown took all three wickets.
It was decided to pull stumps for Christmas.
Polishing off the first innings victory has moved East Ballarat into the four while a strong start to the season keeps Brown Hill in second spot.
The fight for ladder rankings is tight and a bumper Brown Hill-Wendouree one-day showdown will launch a re-start to the season on January 11.
LADDER STANDINGS AT CHRISTMAS BREAK: MT CLEAR 36 points, 2.5230 per cent*; BROWN HILL 28, 1.6277; WENDOUREE 24, 2.0388; EAST BALLARAT 22, 1.0249; Napoleons-Sebastopol 22, 0.8239; North Ballarat 21, 1.1618*; Golden Point 15, 0.9592; Darley 12, 1.0288; Ballarat-Redan 12, 0.5575; Coronet City 0, 0.3364.
*percentage not adjusted for this round