The Monash Tigers host Fitzroy Doncaster at Central Reserve North. The Tigers’ have seen a lot of movement off-field with a new-look committee and there will be a new-look line-up led by Dominic Matarazzo. Veteran batsman Daniel Sartori has moved to Footscray, veteran Sam Taylor has retired, ‘shooting star’ Campbell Vadlja has accepted a deal in South Australia, quick Blade Baxter has gone to local cricket and young quick Triyan De Silva has gone to Dandenong, with the vacancies to be filled by the next wave of talent coming through under the eyes of Shannon Young. The Lions will also take the field with a fresh line-up with former Ryder Medalist Trent Lawford (Yarraville), quicks Andrew Perrin (Prahran) and Chris Moore (local cricket) and batsman Matthew Bremner (retired) have all left the Lions’ Den, with Jake Sherriff and ex-Kingston Hawthorn quick Harrison Goad aiming to fill the big shoes left behind. Both sides will be keen to take the points, with the Lions just having more experience on paper but both sides having holes to fill. Am expecting this game to go deep into the day with the Lions to ‘roar’ in celebration.
Kingston Hawthorn host Footscray at Walter Galt Reserve. Kingston Hawthorn have a new coach in Ben Williams who has worked with members of the New Zealand national squad and will have a lot of new faces coming in from the local area and ex-Camberwell Magpie Sam Newell joining the club, with a number of noted movements out with Harrison Goad (Fitzroy Doncaster), Yasiru Herath (Prahran) and Akshay Kodoth (Camberwell Magpies) all headed out the door. Footscray have been very active in the off-season and have gained State contracted quick Jake Reed (Geelong), former WA Premier Cricketer Miles Keyt and former Monash Tigers batsman Daniel Sartori but have lost the services of quick Jack Sheppard to Coburg. On paper, Footscray would be expected to be the most improved side in Premier Cricket for this season based on recruiting alone and will be keen to turn it into performances after an inconsistent season last year. It will also be interesting to see how Kingston Hawthorn adjust to a new coach and a bunch of new players building a core for future seasons. Footscray to start with the advantage.
Northcote play Frankston Peninsula at AH Butler Oval due to works on Bill Lawry Oval delaying access for most of October’s play. The Dragons have been quiet in the movement space, focusing on developing the core that is currently in place to push for a higher ladder position this season. The Heat have been looking at several Overseas Players for the season and are still yet to confirm who will front up for them but have attracted some new faces that may feature in the lower XIs yet. Both sides last season found themselves in the lower third of the ladder and will be keen to get their campaigns underway with some points to their name. Frankston last season had a slightly more successful bowling line-up and this could be the difference in the game. Heat to start favourites.
St Kilda host the Greenvale Kangaroos at the Junction Oval. The Saints have recruited former Victorian representative Adam Crosthwaite as Captain after a stint playing in Sydney but have been somewhat quiet in the movement space otherwise within the competition. The Kangaroos have been busy over the winter after Trent Johnston’s appointment as Coach was waived due to Johnston’s acceptance to coach Hong Kong. Ex-Bankstown keeper Michael Stretton comes in as Captain, with Aiden Zammit (South Australia) and Thomas Weston (Western Australia) also coming in to the Roos for this season but have lost their standout member from last season All-Rounder Sunam Gautam to South Australia. The Roos last season came away with 3 wins but am expecting that time will be needed for the team to gel with the changes from the off-season, with the Saints favourites to chalk a win on their spiritual home ground under the new skipper.
Finally, Melbourne host Ringwood at the Albert Ground. Melbourne has appointed long-serving Victorian and Australian cricketer Cameron White as Captain for this season and has also recruited former Dandenong quick Adam McMaster for the season ahead while keeping the core of their side from last season as they look to make a return to the Finals after a couple of lean seasons. Ringwood has been active over the winter with former Melbourne University opener Thomas Rogers joining, while stalwart Tom Stray returns to the club after a couple of seasons’ away. The Rams’ are also looking at an Overseas player coming in alongside past Captain Ian Holland, with the support required to help develop new captain Pat Ashton. This game will be an interesting match to monitor with some highly experienced cricketers involved. I’m expecting the Demons to start favourites if either Cameron White or Meyrick Buchanan can get firing on the opening day with the willow, though it will be a good battle against the Rams’ attack.