The Australian Country Cricket Championships are under way in Canberra, and at time of going to press, Victoria sit pretty on top of the ladder after four matches.

Traralgon’s Lee Stockdale is captaining the state side, and has played an important role throughout the competition thus far, with the second-highest batting average in the championships.

Victoria’s first round opponents were Queensland, and they made light work of the sunny state, winning by a whopping 123 runs.

The charge was led by former-Melbourne Renegades batsman, Brayden Stepien, who blasted 104 runs from just 94 deliveries, including 17 boundaries.

Stepien has some ties to Sale, playing as a fill-in for Sale Football-Netball Club reserves on occasions in previous seasons.

Stockdale contributed 32 runs in the middle of the order, while at number seven, Kierran Voelkl, amassed a half-century at just over a run a ball, to help compile a total of 7/288.

Despite surviving all 50 overs, Queensland was well off the mark, falling more than 100 runs short of its target.

Sale’s Jack Wrigglesworth, (now playing for Geelong) who took the most wickets at the 2020 Championships, took 3/27 from his 10 overs.

Stratford’s Jack Rietschel was also handy with the ball, taking 1/27 from his 10 overs, while Stockdale was conservative, only allowing 21 runs from his 10 overs.

Victoria halted Queensland to just 9/165, showing they could hold a side to a low score.

Two days later, Victoria took on South Australia, who were coming off a six-wicket loss to New South Wales.

The two Jack’s, Rietschel and Wrigglesworth, representing Victoria Country at the Australian Country Cricket Championships. Photo: Contributed

This time around, South Australia won the toss and threw the Victorians into the field.

If they could go back in time, they might, after Victoria bowled them out in 28.4 overs for a lousy 108.

Eight of the 11 batters were dismissed for single-figure scores, while the Victorian bowlers tore through the order.

Stockdale led from the front, taking 3/21 from his 10 overs, taking the all-important wicket of South Australia’s leading runs scorer, Mitchell Fuss, for 47.

Rietschel was once again reliable with the ball from his limited spell, taking 1/2 from 10 deliveries, helping clean up the tail.

While in chase, the Victorians did not need long to drag down the cheap total.

Jordan Moran hit the winning runs in the 18th over, just as Stockdale was brought to the crease, following the dismissal of Nathan Walsh.

Stepien once again top-scored for Victoria, with a quickfire 37 from 28 balls, a knock that included five boundaries.

In Round 3, the Victorians took on the Philippines, in a demolition job that caught the attention of wider news outlets.

After losing the toss and being thrown into bat, Victoria posted 4/394, in a mammoth effort.

Most, or all, of the heavy lifting was done by Cameron Williams and Walsh, who scored 187 and 127 respectively.

Williams struck 25 boundaries, including five over the rope, while Walsh amassed 11.

Stockdale posted 36 not out to conclude the innings, helping his average continually grow.

As they have previously shown, the Victorians didn’t make it easy for their opponents, only allowing a score of 9/125 from the Philippines in 50 overs.

Stockdale took 3/21 with the ball, while Rietschel took 1/11 from nine overs.

The win of 269 runs solidified Victoria’s spot on top of the ladder.

As for their fourth game, not much changed.

When NSW won the toss and elected to bat, the Victorians made them immediately regret the decision, with their ruthless bowling attack.

After 42.2 overs, NSW were bowled out for just 159, a score that Victoria knew was possible of chasing with ease.

Wrigglesworth was the best of the Victorian bowlers, claiming figures of 4/28 from 6.2 overs, and Rietschel continued his handy work, claiming 1/35 from 10 overs.

In the chase, no locals were needed with the bat, as the top order got things done in a little over 30 overs.

Moran contributed the most, scoring 90 from 92 deliveries, so close to a century.

Walsh almost secured a half-century toward the end of the innings, but it was not needed as the required runs were reached.

After its four games, Victoria still sat on top of the ladder, two games clear of Western Australia and NSW.

Victoria had the bye in Round 5, and their Round 6 match against WA took place after print yesterday.