Altona’s leaders stepped up in the best possible way on the opening day of an examination from top-of-the-ladder Plenty Valley in Sub-District Cricket at JK Grant Reserve on Saturday.
Captain Shane Jones and batting maestro Aaron Maynard combined to put on 165 for the third wicket as the home side powered its way to 260.
Jones (93) and Maynard (89) fell agonisingly short of triple figures but have their side in a strong position to inflict a first defeat of the season on Valley.
“It was good to post 260 against a quality team,” Jones told Star Weekly. “You’d take that any day of the week.”
Jones smashed 14 fours en route to his top score since crossing to the A’s at the start of last summer.
Maynard kept the ball rolling to reach 212 from his past two digs and an average of 79 for the season.
He has picked up where he left off last summer, when he averaged 81.
The going was tough early for the A’s, with Valley’s spinners putting the clamps on.
“The two spinners they had going were really tight,” Jones said.
“You had to sweat on the loose balls and be sure to make some runs off those.
“We were about 110 off 45 overs but really got a move on after the break.
“Having wickets in hand at the end of the day, you do get the luxury to take a couple of risks.”
The A’s bowlers can take a leaf out of the Plenty Valley book when they set about defending the big total.
“They were stump to stump and were disciplined,” Jones said.
“It’s just bowling those lines and lengths and being patient and if an opportunity comes our way, we’ve got to take it.”
Next Saturday will be a crucial five hours in the context of the A’s’ season.
With a logjam of sides from positions two to 13 with one or two wins after three rounds, and with the A’s at one and a half after a washout, they won’t want to get left behind in the run to Christmas.
“It’s really tight through the middle of the ladder and you don’t want to be dropping a game here and there,” Jones said.
“I think it’s going to be a really close and tough section this year.
“Any team on their day can beat any other team in the league at the moment.”