BALLARAT Cricket Association overcame a serious scare to open its Melbourne Country Week campaign with victory yesterday.
The Ballarat boys successfully defended their first innings total of 8-228 to secure a two-run win over Benalla at Carlton’s Princes Park.
Ballarat’s good start with both bat and ball almost went to waste after a whirlwind performance from rival tail-ender Matt Stevenson.
Stevenson belted an unbeaten 92 from just 45 balls late in the innings, as Benalla recovered from 6-115 and then 9-172 to need four runs from the final delivery for victory.
All-rounder Liam Rigby – who had earlier made 44 not out with the willow – had the ball and restricted Benalla to just one run before getting on the end of a Carman Mapatuna throw to complete a run out and end the innings.
Earlier in the day, several important contributions saw Ballarat post a match-winning total.
Cole Roscholler (24), Dwayne Hiscock (51) and captain Bobby Hind (30) got things off to a solid start, but it was the unbeaten partnership of 77 between Jason Knowles (36 not out) and Rigby, which was crucial in the end.
Ballarat’s win ensures an ideal start to the week-long tournament and begins the journey towards promotion back into the carnival’s provincial division.
A winless Melbourne Country Week last year saw Ballarat slip from the top tier of competition.
Ballarat takes on Ferntree Gully in Prahran today.