Nooy knocks them around to 200

Alex Nooy was back to his brilliant best for Cardinia on Saturday, cracking a career-high 202 not out against Carlisle Park. 311879 Pictures: STEWART CHAMBERS

By David Nagel

A return to what he knows best has propelled Cardinia (3/446) opener Alex Nooy (202 not out) to the individual highlight of his career as the Bulls racked up a huge score against Carlisle Park at a slow Hunt Club Oval on Saturday.

Nooy joins his former skipper Neil Barfuss as the only two first XI players at the Bulls to make a double-century after an epic 80-over vigil that contained 19 fours.

The 29-year-old shared a blockbuster 244-run partnership with Travis Wheller (132), who struck his second century of the season – and his own career-best score – to rubber-stamp Wheller’s credentials as one of the best all-rounders in CCCA cricket.

Nooy’s journey to his epic innings has been an intriguing one.

His previous highest-score of 143 not out came in 2016/17, a season before he put his name in the spotlight with an incredible knock against Emerald in November 2017.

Chasing 107 off 22 overs to claim outright points, Nooy hit 10 sixes and nine fours on his way to 103 not out.

The Bulls’ chase was all over in 8.2 overs!

“I think so,” was Nooy’s succinct response to the question; was Saturday’s double century the best innings of his career.

“The hundred at Emerald always gets spoken about but, to be honest, that was probably the worst thing that happened to my cricket, scoring that hundred so quickly.

“Since then, I’ve tried to score 100 off 50 balls all the time, but yesterday was back to the grind; back to the grind of when I was making 500 or 600 run seasons.

“The ground was big, but quite slow, so we did a lot of running, but I had a clear head and that helped with my patience, I think.

“I had success early batting that way, but the last few years I’ve definitely tried to become something I’m not.

“I’ve been overly aggressive; and when you are overly aggressive you give chances.

“That’s cost me since the Emerald game; you think you can do it all the time…but that’s definitely not the case in cricket.”

The classy left-hander said his phone had been running hot since his magnificent innings; which hadn’t fully sunk in yet and was not yet fully appreciated by the man himself.

“Not really to be honest, but I’m getting a lot of messages with people congratulating me on getting the 200,” he said.

“It feels weird; it feels like getting 180 or 190 almost seems bigger, but low 200’s just doesn’t seem real.

“But I’m super-pumped about it; and wouldn’t have got there without my teammates.

“Certainly Hynesy (Jacobus Hynes), he came out in over 63 or 65, something like that, and if I didn’t have him over the last 15 or so overs, I wouldn’t have got through.

“I was done by 60 overs, sitting on 120 or 130, and I was content with that; because it’s been a long time between drinks for me.

“The relief getting to 100 was crazy, a great buzz, but he told me to keep going and to not waste the opportunity.

“I didn’t take a lot of risk all day; scored a lot along the ground, so thought I may as well keep pushing on with that style of play.”

Nooy said the rapid emergence of Hynes, and continued brilliance of Morteza Ali and Wheller; and provided a safety-blanket this year.

It was a comforting tool that he was keen to dispense with on the weekend.

“I don’t have massive expectations anymore; with Trav, Matt Welsh, Hynesy, he’s come good this year, and Morteza, and that takes the pressure off and probably lowers your expectations.

“I sort of feel like I’m covered if I take a risk and go out, but on Saturday I thought, ‘today’s my day.

“I took the leg-side out of my game; probably scored 20 percent of my runs there, but a lot was through the off-side.

“If you play across the line, you give chances, don’t you?”

Nooy was rocked early in his innings; struck on the collarbone by Vikings’ opening bowler Jaan Balasuriya who surprised him with a shock short ball at a much quicker pace.

But Nooy marched on, sharing partnerships with Ali (38), Welsh (18), Wheller and an unbeaten stand with Hynes (36 not out).

It was incredible day in CCCA Premier Division on Saturday, with five legitimate stars of the competition choosing the same day to post career-best scores.

Bulls’ Nooy and Wheller were joined by Pakenham’s Chris Smith (210 not out) and Tooradin pair Cal O’Hare (164) and Josh Lownds (116) on an amazing opening day of two-day cricket.

Nooy put his usually feisty self to one side to praise his long-term opponents for their achievements.

“I’m genuinely happy for those blokes,” he confessed.

“Early doors you do a bit of sledging and don’t see eye to eye at times, but we’ve played for a long time now and all shared success.

“We’re ruthless when we cross the white line, me as much as anybody, but I genuinely respect those players.

“It probably makes it sink in more, looking at Smithy, being impressed by his innings and then thinking, ’hang on, I’ve done the same thing on the same day’.

“If I didn’t make runs and I saw Smithy do that, I’d be thinking, ‘how did he do that’.

“Just thinking about it now, it’s definitely made it more special sharing a big day with those types of quality players.

“I respect those blokes; they all score heavily…and it clicked for us all on the same day.”

Nooy, who smashed his way through the 4000 run-barrier (4139 at 29.57) on Saturday, agreed that being a young father had changed his perspective on the game.

“There’s something to it you know…you hear it all the time, even in international cricket,” he replied.

“Even after the game the boys were saying, ‘you have to come back for a drink’, but I wanted to get home and see my son.

“It definitely changes your perspective about what’s important in life.

“I’ve got a 16-month-old, and cricket’s on the backburner now; I’ve actually missed games this year and been okay with that when I wouldn’t have been in the past.

“I love the blokes I play with and have a very competitive nature; that keeps me in the sport, but I’d be content to hang them up when the time is right.

“I just want to make sure the club is in a good position before I make that decision.”