Peter Dickson plays his 200th game for the Lions on Saturday
There are just two sleeps until the start of the Victorian Premier Cricket season and, while it has been a trying September for curators, most grounds are looking good.
With the unavailability of some grounds, some reshuffling has been necessary. Ringwood (for the season) and Northcote (for the first six rounds) have had to make alternative arrangements with their respective main ovals undergoing some extensive renovations. There are also various other grounds in doubt. Check the Premier Cricket MyCricket fixture listing for all the latest updates.
Several big names have announced their retirement since the end of last season. Andrew Kent (Melb), Sam Coates (Prah), Allan Wise (Monash Tigers), Luke Walker (Frank Pen) and Chris McCormick (Frank Pen) have all moved on and Cricket Victoria thanks them all for their outstanding contributions to Victorian Premier Cricket.
Players changing clubs include Evan Gulbis (Prah to Carl), Charlie Ross (St K to Carl), Jak Jowett (St K to Dand), Mark Phelan (Carl to Ncte), James Seymour (returning to Ess), Sam Crea (Ess to St K), Mitch Barnewall (Ess to Foots) and Thomas Ewing (Frank Pen to Foots), while Geelong welcomes Tim Ludeman (ex-SA), who has returned to Victoria.
There are several new coaches - Prabath Nissanka (Casey-SM), Mitch Johnstone (Ess), Keith Jansz (Frank Pen), Jarrod Leggett (Greenvale Kangaroos) and Barry Neivandt (Prahran) have those roles in 2017-18.
Reigning premiers Fitzroy Doncaster commence their title defence at the Albert Ground against the Demons, while Women's premiers Essendon Maribyrnong Park are also up against the Demons at Greaves Reserve, Dandenong.
The new-look Dandenong CC, having merged with Dandenong Lions WCC, has unveiled a new logo and the Women's team makes its Shepley Oval debut against Box Hill on Sunday 8 October.
The Bulldogs have dropped "Edgewater" from its name, and reverted to the traditional Footscray name.
Round 1 sees several notable milestones. Congratulations to each of the following:
Northcote legend Shane Herbert will score his 450th Premier 1st XI match when the Dragons take on the Cats at the GCG. "Sherb" made his debut in 1985-86 and was part of Northcote's 1986-87 and 1996-97 premiership teams.
CV Umpire Paul Baleisa
will officiate in his 300th Premier match on Sunday at the Tony Dodemaide Oval. Paul's games tally comprises 5 WP1s, 6 WP2s, 68 Seconds, 75 Thirds and 145 Fourths matches. Well done Paul!
Fitzroy Doncaster captain Peter Dickson (pictured above right) will play his 200th match for the Lions. After debuting for Melbourne (52 matches) in 2000-01, "Dicko" joined the Lions in 2005-06 and has skippered the Lions to back-to-back flags in 2015-16 and 2016-17. His brilliant 226* in 2015-16 earned "Dicko" the John Scholes Medal. In his 251 Premier matches, Dickson has scored 8,605 runs at an average of 36.61, with 13 centuries and 45 half-centuries.
CV Umpire David Shepard will officiate in his 50th Premier 1st XI match at Merv Hughes Oval on Saturday. "Shep" made his umpiring debut in 2011-12 after a distinguished playing career for the Hawks and the Bushrangers.
ROUND 1 Sat 7 October
Melbourne v Fitz Donc
Prahran v Footscray (at Footscray)
King Haw v Monash Tigers
Melb Uni v Camb Magpies
Casey-SM v Ringwood
Green Kang v Essendon
Carlton v St Kilda
Frank Pen v Dandenong
Geelong v Northcote
1sts & 3rds on grounds of first-named clubs
2nds & 4ths on grounds of second-named clubs.
WOMEN'S PREMIER FIRSTS
Round 1 Saturday 7 October
Essendon MP v Melbourne (at Greaves Res, Dandenong)
Sunday 8 October
Dandenong v Box Hill (at Shepley Oval)
Plenty Valley v Prahran (at Yarrambat)
WOMEN'S PREMIER RESERVES
Round 1 Sunday 8 October
Melbourne v Essendon MP
Box Hill v Dandenong (at Schramms Res, Doncaster)
Prahran v Plenty Valley (at Greaves Res, Dandenong)
WOMEN'S PREMIER SECONDS
Round 1 Sunday 8 October
Coburg v Ringwood (at Greenvale)
Carlton-Brunswick v Brighton Dist (at Gillon Oval, Brunswick)