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FOOTSCRAY returned to its winnings ways with a smashing of Dandenong in the Victorian Premier Cricket on the weekend. Bulldogs’ captain Dean Russ ensured he remained popular with his team-mates after he won the toss and had no hesitation batting first in the 40 degree heat on day one. Footscray went on to dominate the Dandenong bowlers for the next 90 overs as the runs came thick and fast. Travis Dean was outstanding after coming in at first drop, making 119 from 209 balls. The knock is also his first century of the season and included 15 boundaries. Dean was well supported by gun Victorian all-rounder John Hastings who again proved how dangerous he can be at Premier Cricket level. Coming in at number four, Hastings made 87 off just 128 balls in an innings which included seven fours and three sixes. A well-made 44 from Anthony Barton and 26 from Shanuka Dissanayake lifted the total to 7/328 after the completion of 90 overs. In reply, Footscray had no trouble ripping through the Dandenong batting line-up. Led by opening pair Jake Haberfield and Hamish Winter-Irving, the Bulldogs bowled the batting side out for 126 in the 50th over on Sunday.

DEFENDING champions City West Falcons will kick off their Victorian Netball League title defence this week. The Falcons enter the 2014 season with another strong line-up despite the retirement of last year’s co-captain Christie Barnes.She will be replaced in the leadership role by Kathleen Knott who is returning from a knee injury which hampered her 2013 season. Knott, who will share the captaincy duties with Casey Price, will slot into the goals and play alongside her sister Julia. Last year’s shooter Maggie Lind will push up into the midcourt. City West coach Marg Lind was happy with her side’s pre-season training form even though the start of the VNL season was brought forward two weeks. “I think we have probably done as much as we can, given that it is a bit of a condensed season,” Lind said. “I think we have done it pretty well. Hopefully we will get a little bit more in-house match play before we start next week.” There won’t be any time to settle into the new season for City West which will take on last year’s third-placed team VU Western Lightning in round one. “I expect VU to be a very tough first game and that could really go either way,” Lind said.

ALTONA resident and Australian Twenty20 spinner James Muirhead has re-signed with the Commonwealth Bank Bushrangers for the next four seasons. Having made his first-class debut as a rookie with the Bushrangers last summer, Muirhead was upgraded to a full contract this season and has since made his mark in the international arena during the recent Twenty20 series against England. The 20-year-old, who claimed career-best figures of 6-181 for a Cricket Australia Invitational XI against England at the SCG in November, said he was happy to put pen to paper with Victoria. “I feel like Victoria is the best environment for me to develop my cricket,” Muirhead said. “I was born in Melbourne, I live in Melbourne and now I can just focus on playing my cricket in Melbourne. “We’ve got a great set-up, with the best coaches … so I’m very happy.” Over the course of the summer, Muirhead faced England in all three formats of the game, but it was his composure during the recent KFC T20 International Series that has thrown him into World Twenty20 calculations in Bangladesh after claiming four wickets at 16.00 and an economy rate of 6.40.