Eastlake batsman Ashley Meek scored 66 to help his team beat Queanbeyan on Sunday. Photo: Jeffrey ChanWests-UC have cemented their place as the team to beat in the Cricket ACT two-day competition as they set their sights on claiming their third Douglas Cup title in four years.
The Lions made short work of Tuggeranong at Chisholm Oval, cruising to their second outright win in just the third game of the two-day season.
Still stinging from failing to make the Twenty20 and one-day grand finals, their dominance against Tuggeranong fired the first warning shot of 2016.
Former skipper Ben Oakley was the chief destroyer, claiming 4-22 and 3-21 as Tuggeranong fell three runs short of forcing Wests-UC to bat a second time.
Wests-UC have played in seven of the past nine two-day grand finals, but lost the decider to Weston Creek last season.
Captain Joe Cooke said: “Our two-day cricket has definitely been our strongest form over the past few years.
“We were disappointed to not even make the grand finals in the other formats, but you take that and use it as drive and motivation towards the two-day competition.
“The [Douglas Cup] is the one you want to win. A lot of our players are suited to two-day cricket and it requires a lot more discipline, so now the challenge is to keep playing better.”
Wests-UC sit comfortably atop the two-day ladder after three rounds with almost maximum points after beating Tuggeranong, Ginninderra and North Canberra-Gungahlin.
Oakley has claimed 18 scalps in those three matches and is the competition’s leading wicket-taker. He has taken 28 wickets across all formats this year.
“Both Oaks and Ethan [Bartlett] are carrying injuries at the moment. We’ve got Sam Skelly coming through, but it’s hard not to rely on Oaks sometimes,” Cooke said.
“It’s something we’ve worked on as a bowling unit. Oaks maybe a yard or two behind what he used to be [in pace], but he certainly hasn’t lost the knack of taking wickets.”
ACT Comets players were stood down from play on Sunday in the second day of clashes across Canberra as they prepared to play against Western in the Futures League from Monday.
Eastlake beat Queanbeyan at Kingston, while Weston Creek-Molonglo’s massive total of 4-359 off the back of a John Rogers double century was far too much for Ginninderra, who struggled to 134 and 3-131 in their second innings.
ANU was too strong for North Canberra-Gungahlin, easing its way to a first-innings triumph after rolling their opponents for just 59 on Saturday.
English import George Rhodes scored a classy century to ensure Norths avoided an outright defeat, finishing their second innings at 2-197 after ANU made 220.
Eastlake captain Michael Spaseski will take the Comets’ captaincy reins at Manuka Oval for the clash against Western , stepping up to fill the hole left by Aidan Blizzard.
The Comets will go into battle without Blizzard and Jono Dean (Big Bash duties), Blake Dean (injury) and Henry Hunt, who is on tour with the n under-19s team.
DOUGLAS CUP: Weston Creek Molonglo 4-359 dec bt Ginninderra 134 and 3-131 at Stirling Oval. Wests/UC 223 bt Tuggeranong 100 and 110 at Chisholm Oval. Eastlake 9-293 bt Queanbeyan 212 at Kingston Oval. ANU 220 bt North Canberra Gungahlin 59 and 2-197 at Harrison No 2 Oval.
Futures League: ACT Comets v Western second XI at Manuka Oval. Play starts at 10.30am.