Last weekend’s play in Premier Cricket saw plenty of action and a few surprises as games occurred around the competition. With temperatures in recent days fluctuating extremely, it will be interesting to see how the wickets play and outfields run after a couple of hot days.
At the Camberwell Sports Ground, the hosts will resume their battle against Dandenong at 6/210. Experienced Magpies batsman Simon Hill (75*) has led the batting effort with support from Shubham Bhargave (45) and Thomas Russ (35), while Peter Cassidy (3/34) has been the only Panther with multiple wickets. On looking at the scores, you would suspect that the Magpies will bat on to compulsory closure and would be hoping to set the visitors at target of around 250-280 off the remaining overs, which should setup an interesting afternoon’s play if Tom Donnell, Brett Forsyth and the rest of the Panthers card get going. This match is at a critical stage and the score at lunch might give an indication as to where the match is heading.
At Casey Fields #4, the hosts batted first and finished the day at 7/356 when a late shower ended the day. Swans skipper Luke Wells (159) was the stand-out for the hosts and was ably supported by Devin Pollock (62*) and Nathan Freitag (50), while the Heat has been best served by Nick Boland (3/77). The big decision at the start of the day will be if to bat on or declare and have a go at the Heat’s batting card, which has been more than handy on their day. The Swans will need to find some wicket takers to help support Nathan Lambden, while the Heat will need at least two of Felix Organ, Matt Gapes, Dale Elmi and Brodie Symons to step up and make big scores if they genuinely aim to chase the total. Swans with their necks in front at present.
At the CitiPower Centre, St Kilda will resume Day Two at 3/51 with Adam Crosthwaite and Damon Egan at the wicket in reply to Essendon’s total of 230. At one point the Bombers were possibly looking at a day of 300+, before Michael Beer (5/44) and Todd Murphy (4/71) put an end to those thoughts, with Connor Rutland (60), Aaron Ayre (50) and James Seymour (47) all spending time in the middle. For the Saints, the overnight batsmen will be the key for their hopes, as early wickets will put pressure on Patrick Rowe and the lower order to find runs and support the established batsmen, while the Bombers will be keen to break through with Doric, Bowe, O’Donnell and Seymour. At present, the advantage just sits with the Bombers and will only grow if they get early wickets.
At Walter Galt Reserve, a potential upset may be on the cards as the hosts will resume at 3/64 in reply to Geelong’s 188. The Cats saw starts from skipper Eamonn Vines (34), Hayden Butterworth (42) and Josh McDonald (40), but failed to see a big knock come out from any of them. The Hawks attack shared all 10 wickets, with the highlight being recalled keeper Joel Lewis taking 6 catches behind the stumps. In reply, the Hawks have seen some starts but regular wickets also fell and pressure will fall on Ramneet Dhindsa (14*) to anchor the innings against the Cats’ attack led by Dom McGlinchey. With the Cats’ attack appearing to be weaker with Brody Couch not playing, this might be a early Christmas present for the Hawks if they can chase the total.
At Toorak Park, the battle for the Don Mathieson Trophy currently sits in the hands of Ringwood after a dominant Day One. The Rams dismissed Prahran for 92 batting first with Jackson Freeman (5/33) and David King (4/20) dismantling the True Blues card, with only Adam Bull (22) passing 15. In reply, the Rams’ reached 7/180 before declaring with 6 scores between 20 and 37, with Jake Toohey top scoring and the True Blues wickets shared by Matt Wilcox, Tom Loten and Sam Grimwade. At stumps, the hosts sit precariously at 2/10 with David King (2/6) already having Adam Bull and Jake Hancock dismissed before stumps. If Prahran can weather the first hour without the loss of too many wickets, it will put pressure on the Rams to get the wickets before they have to chase a target.
At Princes Park #1, Carlton have their hands firmly wrapped around the John Scholes Trophy after a batting masterclass on Day One, finishing the day at 7/441. This score was a massive effort and a fight back from their batting card after their leading run scorer Brayden Stepien was dismissed first ball. Thomas Smyth (134), Nicholas Ross (98), Evan Gulbis (79) and Harrison Smyth (49) all spent valuable time at the crease, while Sam Elliott (2/81) and Glenn Maxwell (2/85) were the Lions’ best bowlers. I would be expecting an overnight declaration to put the pressure on the Lions to try and bat long into the day and will find this a challenge against the Blues attack led by Gulbis and Xavier Crone. Blues miles ahead in this match unless the Lions produce a rearguard action.
At Greenvale Reserve #1, the hosts will resume at 1/8 in reply to Footscray’s 8/304 declared. The visitors were a little shaky early before Daniel Sartori (100) and Dean Russ (76) put on 124 for the 3rd wicket, while skipper Dylan Kight (54*) put on the finishing touches against the Roos’ attack led by Mitchell Edwards (3/29) and Sean McNicholl (3/61). With just 6 overs to survive, the Roos are already on the back foot with coach Kaushal Silva back in the sheds for 4, thereby putting extra pressure on their inexperienced batting card to bat long into the day. If early wickets can be found on Day Two, it might open a window for a sniff at an Outright chance for the Dogs who will be keen to spend Christmas secure in the Top 8. Dogs on the hunt in this one.
At Bill Lawry Oval, there was not a dull moment as the opening day between Northcote and the Monash Tigers saw 26 wickets fall for 301 runs. The Tigers batting first were dismissed for 82 with Adam Amin (22) top score against Michael Edwards (4/15), Jonty Rushton (3/20) and Sam Harbinson (3/26). In reply, the Dragons scored 98 with Joe Medew-Ewen (23), Sam Harbinson (22) and Blayde Baker (20) the bulk of the run scorers against Jack Trevethan (3/6) and Dom Matarazzo (3/27). Second time around the Tigers closed the day at 6/121 with Matarazzo (45) top scoring, while Andrew Humphries (28*) and Amin (17*) not out for the visitors. Nick Biscontin (2/22) is the leading Dragons bowler currently, with the hosts keen to wrap the innings up and limit the lead (currently 105) below 150 to give them a chance. Any result is still on the table and anything is still possible.
Finally, at the University Main Oval for the Michael Sholly Cup, Melbourne will resume Day Two at 2/24 in reply to Uni’s total of 285. Uni’s score was setup by Andre Yaksender (77), with the tail also firing with James Bett (48), Steven Reid (43) and Mark Stafford (22*) putting on 110 between the three of them for the last two wickets against the Dees attack led by Kieren Elliott (4/72). In reply, Reid and Stafford have dismissed Jack Harper and Blake Thomson but will need to dismiss the night watchmen Elliott (5*) and Marcus Jackman (0*) to have a fresh shot against Will Pucovski, Matthew Brown and Meyrick Buchanan. With both sides in top form, this game is very much ‘in the air’ with the first session to be the key as to who may spend Christmas at the top of the ladder.
The Women’s 1st XI competition last weekend saw the 1st XI sides come to the St Kilda complex, with the weekend providing some tight matches.
This weekend will see only the 1st XI games play as a make-up to the loss of the Round 14 that was originally penciled in for Sunday 8th March (Women’s T20 World Cup Final at the MCG).
On Saturday, Essendon Maribyrnong Park (1st) host Carlton-Brunswick (6th) at Aberfeldie Park. The Bombers were lucky to survive a scare last weekend against Dandenong and will be keen not to repeat the process again here, while the Strikers were competitive against Plenty Valley. This match will give the Strikers players a proper assessment leading into the break as to where they sit and what areas of their game they will focus on developing in the back half of the season. On paper, the Bombers will be keen to keep the top spot theirs prior to the Christmas break and should account for the visitors without too much hassle.
On Sunday, Prahran (3rd) host Melbourne (4th) at Toorak Park in the Grand Final rematch. The True Blues fell over the line against Ringwood last week while the Demons received an awakening at the hands of Box Hill. The True Blues will be keen to have their top order make some runs after going dry in recent weeks but will need to have some luck against the Demons attack. The Demons will need to regain some confidence with the willow after last week’s effort and will need to apply early pressure with the ball if they want to be a genuine contender this season. On paper, this game has the potential to go down to the wire, with the hosts to start as favourites.
Ringwood (7th) host Box Hill (2nd) at Russell Lucas Oval. The Rams took it up to Prahran but just fellone wicket short last weekend of a morale-boosting win, while the Mustangs gave Melbourne a wake-up call. The Rams have seen runs in the last couple of rounds coming primarily out of one location and will need the rest of the line-up to step up and work together against the Mustangs attack, while the Mustangs will be keen to get out of the blocks early when batting to setup or chase the total and will again look towards their bowling attack to land some early wickets. On paper, the favourite status in this match sits with the Mustangs.
Finally, Plenty Valley (5th) host Dandenong (8th) at AK Line Reserve. The Bats returned to the winners list with victory over Carlton-Brunswick while the Panthers came out of nowhere in the final overs against EMP to give them an almighty fright in the eventual two-wicket loss. Both sides will be keen to secure a win to go into the Christmas break with some positives, with last week’s results suggesting the match could very well be a close one. If the Panthers attack can land early wickets then it will make the task easier for their batting card, but the Bats attack is capable of anything on its day if it gets a sniff of pressure. On recent form, the Bats will only just start as favourites.
The following Milestones were achieved last weekend during play:
WOMEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 14 ONE DAY – SATURDAY 21 DECEMBER (11:00am Start)
ESSENDON MARIBYRNONG PARK vs CARLTON-BRUNSWICK at Aberfeldie Park
Umpires M Harris & S Weerasekara
ROUND 14 ONE DAY – SUNDAY 22 DECEMBER (11:00am Start)
PRAHRAN V MELBOURNE at Toorak Park
Umpires S Olufson & L McCabe
RINGWOOD V BOX HILL at Russell Lucas Oval
Umpires S Pitts & G Bawa
PLENTY VALLEY V DANDENONG at AK Line Reserve
Umpires W Downey & A Hind