BILLED one of the hottest games this season, Brown Hill was left in a hot fluster post-match after a brush with the undefeated Mount Clear.
In-form all-rounder Dan Hopkinson led the charge in carving up the Bulls’ trademark sharp attack, which had started to wilt in sweltering conditions at the University of Ballarat on Saturday.
Hopkinson built an unbeaten 107 runs (12 fours) to guide his Mounties to a 312-run tally by stumps.
The Mounties have reinforced why they are the Ballarat Cricket Association club firsts title favourite.
Mount Clear captain Nathan Yates warned this game was certainly far from over – their bowlers still had a challenge in defending the tally on day two.
“It was a really good team effort and everyone in the team stuck to our plan, which is really positive,” Yates said.
Hopkinson was one of three batsmen in the BCA firsts to chalk up a century – Wendouree duo Heath Pyke and Liam Brady achieved the feat, while Ballarat-Redan’s Anthony Taylor fell six runs short – with temperatures across the region nearing 40C.
Yates said that it was tough at the crease for batsmen, but it would have been tougher for those in the field.
“A few of our boys were a bit under the weather after the game, just from the heat,” Yates said.
“It was just so taxing out there.”
Yates was run out cheaply within the first four overs but the Mounties began to build a strong case via opener Les Sandwith (43 runs), Shaun Coffey (28 runs, 4 fours) and Jarrod Burns (34 runs, 5 fours).
Hopkinson stepped up to the crease with the Mounties at 4-112, formed a string of handy partnerships, starting in an 81-run fifth-wicket stand with Burns, then a combined 49 runs with Hayden Cartledge (26 runs) for the sixth wicket.
The effort marked Hopkinson’s second century and highest score this season.
Yates said that while Hopkinson had a late start to the summer, he was beginning to turn in some excellent form.
Dean Ferris was the only Bull to take multiple wickets – he bagged 2-50, both wickets were caught and bowled – while the usually lethal one-two punch of Shane Harwood and Matt
McMahon took a collective two wickets.