Week 1 of Round 14 saw beautiful conditions for the games that commenced, with the batsmen dominating proceedings to the tune of 6 centuries and 3 scores in the 90s, with only one game seeing more than 10 wickets fall for the day.
At Harry Trott Oval, St Kilda capitalized on being sent in by Kingston Hawthorn to finish the day at 6/321. Jonathan Merlo broke through for his maiden 1st XI century (106*), with Eric Laubscher (62) and Lachie Holmes (46) leading the rest of the Saints batting card. For the Hawks, Lyle D’Rozario (3/73) and Jack Fowler (2/72) tried hard with the ball. The Saints are in the box seat and will leave Michael Beer with a decision to either bat the additional 10 overs to pile on more pain or declare and aim to dismiss the Hawks. Depending on how long the Hawks 1st Innings goes, it could be a chance for an Outright result if there is enough time left in the match.
At the Geelong Cricket Ground, Ringwood capitalized on winning the toss by amassing 8/373 by the close. Rams’ pair David King (139) and Ian Holland (103) put on a 191-run 2nd wicket partnership to drain the Cats’ attack, before Brenton McDonald (3/80) dismissed Holland to give his teammates a chance to bounce back. The Holland wicket saw the last 7 wickets of the day falling for 112 runs. I would expect the Rams to come out and look to bat as much of their last 10 available overs in the innings to try and set the Cats a score of 400 in just over 80 overs. The Cats will be keen to get the last 2 wickets and get cracking into the run chase on what has been a ‘batsman’s paradise’ of a ground this season. Expect this game to go close, with the Rams to push hard to keep their faint Finals hopes alive.
At Casey Fields #4, Casey-South Melbourne Captain/Coach Luke Wells put on an innings for the ages as the Swans racked up 4/396 declared. When Wells declared the innings closed, he put an opportunity to score a personal double-century behind him to have two overs at the Essendon side prior to stumps (with the Bombers getting through 2 maidens), finishing with 197* off 258 balls (22 x 4s, 4 x 6s), with Michael Wallace (91) and Jordan Wyatt (74* off 38 balls, 7 x 4s, 5 x 6s). For the Bombers, getting the scoreboard ticking over and keeping wickets in hand will be their sole focus if they are genuinely going to attempt to chase this target down. The Swans have a handy bowling attack and could cause some issues if batsmen become over-confident. Another game setup to decide the future of a Finals contender.
At Shepley Oval in the VRGF’s ‘Love the Game, Not the Odds’ Match of the Round, Footscray capitalized on being sent in by Dandenong to finish the day at 9/350. For the Dogs, skipper Dylan Kight (98) and Dean Russ (91) both went close to scoring centuries, while Matthew Underwood (41), Dylan Brasher (40) and Jordan Kight (39) kept the scoreboard operators busy. For the Panthers, James Nanopoulos and Peter Cassidy both finished with 4/73 off 17 and 22 overs respectively. Will the Dogs let the last pair bat and try to take some time out of the game or will they declare and give themselves the maximum available overs to aim to bowl the Panthers out? Another game that has the capacity to be a classic.
At the University Main Oval, Fitzroy Doncaster won the toss and batted all day to set Melbourne University a target of 283 to chase on Day Two. For the Lions, Matthew Bremner broke through a lean run with a score of 118, with support from Jack Rudd (34), skipper Ejaaz Alavi (31) and Chris Moore (27) all chipping in. For Uni, Benjamin Rolfs (4/59) and Steven Reid (3/73) were the best bowlers. For Uni, this match is a ‘must-win’ as they look to lock-up a spot inside the Top 8 and will need all their batsmen to come out firing against a solid Lions attack led by Trent Lawford (32 wickets @ 19.09). With Uni’s ground playing well in recent times, this game could go either way with the first session to be key in each side’s plans.
At Bill Lawry Oval, Carlton won the toss and finished with 8/298 against Northcote. The Blues’ skipper for the match Nicholas Ross led from the front with an innings of 123 after walking in at 2/23, with Xavier Crone (40) and Brayden McGregor (36) playing key roles in the Blues’ innings revival with Ross. For the Dragons, Mick Edwards (3/43) was easily the best bowler in a hard day at the office. Will Carlton feel that they have enough runs or will they back their bowlers to dismiss the Dragons in a reduced number of overs after continuing their innings? With Mark Phelan and Solomon Mire in the Dragons batting line-up, this will be an interesting decision to make. If Phelan and Mire can get going, the Dragons won’t be out of the hunt.
At the Camberwell Sports Ground, Melbourne won the toss and notched up a competitive 280 on the board against the Camberwell Magpies. For the Demons, Charles Lill (61) and Jackson Koop (61*) were best, while Will Pucovski (43) also played a key hand, with starts through the middle order keeping the board ticking over. Will Walker (3/64) and Matthew Whittaker (2/38) were the Magpies’ best bowlers. The Magpies will resume Day Two at 0/12 after facing 6 overs prior to stumps. With all 10 wickets in the sheds on resumption, the Magpies would appear to have a slight advantage at this point of the game as the Demons’ attack has not been overly strong this season, though Jackson Coleman has returned from BBL representation to give it a boost at potentially the right time. First session will be key here.
At Greenvale Reserve #1, the Monash Tigers have already secured 1st Innings points after an eventful day against the Greenvale Kangaroos. The Roos won the toss but were dismantled for just 97 by a quality spell from Blade Baxter (17/9/7/20). Zaheer Hussain (26) and Humza Ali (25) the only batsmen to pass 20. In return, Daniel Sartori (43) and Campbell Vadlja (56) made sure the Tigers got the points for the loss of just Sartori, before the willow was flashed around and a scurry of wickets saw the Tigers declaring at 9/189 with Sunam Gautam (5/79) and Humza Ali (4/30) the destroyers. Faced with 5 overs before Stumps, the Roos finished the day at 1/7 with Baxter dismissing Jack James (0). The Roos are on the back foot and will be hoping to return serve with the bat to put pressure on the Tigers’ bowling attack. With the Tigers’ needing as many points as possible, they are in prime position to take away maximum points if they can bowl the Roos out again for a sub-150 score.
Finally, Prahran (13th) host Frankston Peninsula (14th) at Toorak Park this Saturday and Sunday. Both sides are nearly out of Finals contention unless there is an Outright result and other results go their way that may give them a sniff. The True Blues claimed a big scalp by consigning Fitzroy Doncaster to their 4th consecutive loss, while the Heat defeated Footscray in a close one for back-to-back wins. The True Blues have quite a strong batting line-up that has not always worked in sync, while the Heat are a more all-round side. This should be a good game, with the expectation that it will only result in 6 points to one of the teams. The True Blues to start favourites at home and based on their recent scalp.
In Women’s Premier 1sts, the last round is now upon us. After last weekend’s action, the Final Four has been locked away and for the sides that have missed out they will be looking to finish off with some pride and some confidence.
Round 12 One Day action saw:
Round 13 will see sides in the Top 4 fine-tune preparations ahead of the Semi Finals, while those outside the Top 4 can still play for bragging rights against their opponent ahead of next season.
Dandenong (5th) host Plenty Valley (4th) at Shepley Oval. For the Panthers, this season has seen both joy (winning the 1st XI T20 title) and heartache (missing the Finals) under new coach Adam Christie, while the Bats continue to develop as a club and have vastly improved under the coaching of Adam Drinkwell. The Bats will play Finals for the first time in 8 seasons and will be keen to go in with form under their belt. With the Panthers now out, they could give the Bats a match-up that could give them good experience into the Finals. Expect this game to run deep into Sunday.
Carlton-Brunswick (7th) host Essendon Maribyrnong Park (6th) at Princes Park #1. The Strikers looked like the surprise packet this season on being promoted to Women’s Premier 1st XI before a string of losses in the back half stopping them short of what would have been an unexpected Finals appearance, while the Bombers have seen mixed form across the board due to Australian, WNCL and WBBL duties continually robbing them of quality players. With just one round to go, this game could have the capacity to go anywhere. Bombers to start favourites.
Prahran (1st) host Box Hill (3rd) at Righetti Oval. The True Blues have locked away the Minor Premiership and will be keen to not drop the ball against the Mustangs after last week’s ‘skin of the teeth’ result against EMP. The Mustangs will be keen to provide the upset and hope that a miracle can happen at Ringwood to secure 2nd position and an all-important Home Final. With Anna Lanning finding form with the bat with 110* last weekend, the Mustangs will be needing more support from the rest of the order against the quality True Blues attack. The True Blues with the advantage in this one.
Finally, Ringwood (8th) host Melbourne (2nd) at Russell Lucas Oval. The Rams have greatly improved across their debut season in Women’s Premier 1st XI and will be keen to secure one last win for the season. Standing in their way is a red-hot Demons outfit that has won 3 of their last 4 games (all with bonus points), with Amy Yates and Teagan Parker leading with the bat and Yates, Ella Hayward and Tegan Orwin with the ball. With the Rams’ becoming more confident with the bat, this will be a good test for their side. Demons to start favourites.
The Women’s Premier 2nd XI One Day section have reached the Semi Finals, with Melbourne (1st) hosting Essendon Maribyrnong Park (4th) at the Albert Ground and Plenty Valley (2nd) host Box Hill (3rd) at Yarrambat War Memorial Park. Both games are on Sunday at 12:00pm, with the winners to face off in the Grand Final the following weekend.
Congratulations go to the following members within Premier Cricket for the following recent and upcoming milestones:
MEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 14 – SATURDAY 23 & SUNDAY 24 FEBRUARY (11:00am Start)
PRAHRAN V FRANKSTON PENINSULA at Toorak Park
Umpires R McKinnon & L Edwards
WOMEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 13 ONE DAY – SUNDAY 24 FEBRUARY (11:00am Start)
DANDENONG V PLENTY VALLEY at Shepley Oval
Umpires L Tenace & C James
CARLTON-BRUNSWICK V ESSENDON MARIBYRNONG PARK at Princes Park #1
Umpires J Leonard-Scott & W Downey
PRAHRAN V BOX HILL at Righetti Oval
Umpires D Shepard & M Nolan
RINGWOOD V MELBOURNE at Russell Lucas Oval
Umpires M Muthugounder & G Azzopardi
WOMEN’S PREMIER 2NDS
SEMI FINALS ONE DAY – SUNDAY 24 FEBRUARY (12:00pm Start)
MELBOURNE V ESSENDON MARIBYRNONG PARK at Albert Ground
Umpires R Harrison & K Faulkner
PLENTY VALLEY V BOX HILL at Yarrambat War Memorial Park
Umpires J Watson & A Gaughan