November 23, 2002

Elliott makes this one count

Adam Cooper

MELBOURNE, Nov 23 AAP - Victoria's Matthew Elliott turned a season of starts into the big score that always beckoned to apply the screws to South Australia on the second day of the Pura Cup match at the MCG today.

Elliott's superb 191 gave the Bushrangers a 175-run lead at the halfway mark of the first-versus-second clash, and erased some of the frustrations this season has produced personally.

The left-hander has failed to go on from several decent starts this season and also missed out for Australia A against England in last week's run-feast in Hobart when a blow to the elbow forced him to retire hurt.

He made amends today in a seven-hour stay (21 fours, one six) to spearhead Victoria to 5-377 at stumps in reply to South Australia's 202 after Redbacks captain Greg Blewett won yesterday's toss and batted.

A 189-run stand between Elliott and Brad Hodge (96) had the effect of a torturer slowly tightening the rack on an opponent that fielded in dry heat and got little help from a placid pitch.

Like Elliott, Hodge has failed to fire this season and looked destined for a sparkling century until Blewett had him LBW.

But Elliott was the mainstay and his 24th Pura Cup ton for Victoria continued a run of big centuries before he was out nicking a tired cut shot 15 minutes from stumps.

It also erased the disappointment of Hobart, where everything that could go wrong did.

"I think I've just kept it a bit more simple, particularly since Hobart," Elliott said.

"I think you can come away from a game like that and say 'Oh, everything's going against me, I retired hurt one ball and I dropped four catches and the world's against me'.

"That's just what happened, I didn't go there to drop catches or to retire hurt first ball, so I think sometimes you can beat yourself up too much about those sort of things.

"I went out there this game and tried to be positive and watch the ball and it worked out pretty well.

"It was a pretty good wicket and I made the most of it."

South Australia lost paceman Ryan Harris (1-25) to a side strain in the first session and, indicative of their day, Blewett (3-32) finished with the best figures despite not bowling himself until the last session.