Round 10 was completed last weekend, with a handful of games in the lower grades abandoned due to wet wickets after rain fell across the competition area on the Friday afternoon. Many games were able to play at full overs, with occasional matches seeing a reduction of available match time.
Highlights from last weekend saw:
This weekend sees the last round of the coloured gear for the seasons (touch wood!), with players looking to strengthen their form as they run towards the business end of the season.
The Camberwell Magpies (13th) host Frankston Peninsula (15th) at the Camberwell Sports Ground. The Magpies were competitive with the ball last weekend but the pressure of a reduced-overs match saw their batsmen struggle with the pressure and fell short against Northcote and will be keen to rebound against the Heat, whose competitive target was overtaken by Geelong with plenty of time and overs to spare. The big battle in this game will be between the Magpies’ batting against the Heat bowlers, with the winner of this battle taking out the game. Going on recent form, the Magpies will start as favourites but the game will be closer than it may appear.
Geelong (7th) host Carlton (2nd) at the Geelong Cricket Ground. One of the games of the round will see the Cats on the rebound as they look to hold their current spot inside the top 8 while the Blues will be keen to keep their current position to pressure Uni and keep others at bay. The key battle in this round will between the Cats’ batsmen against the Blues bowlers, with the Blues currently conceding the 3rd-fewest runs while the Cats’ batsmen have scored the most runs for a team in the competition so far. With the game at Geelong the hosts are more than in the game, but on current form the Blues will start with their noses in front.
The Monash Tigers (17th) host Casey-South Melbourne (12th) at Central Reserve North. The Tigers took the match up to the Saints and just missed out but would have taken the match as a moral victory, while the Swans also just fell short at Footscray in a reduced-overs game. The Tigers have been developing a lot of younger players this season and this will be better for the longer-term, while the Swans will need to find a win to keep their faint hopes of a Finals appearance in with a chance. On recent form, the Swans will go in to the match as favourites with Luke Wells in strong form.
Dandenong (14th) host Ringwood (8th) at Shepley Oval. The Panthers would have been thinking ‘what if’ after another close loss last weekend while the Rams had a performance check against the top side, with the result seeing another loss and found themselves just inside the top 8. The Panthers have been reasonably strong with the ball but have found themselves currently the side with the fewest runs for, while the Rams are 4th in terms of fewest wickets lost when batting and playing an all-round game. The big battle will be between the two all-rounders James Nanopoulos and David King. On current form the Rams will just start in front but am not discounting an upset on the cards.
Melbourne (3rd) host Essendon (6th) at the Albert Ground. The Demons are keeping pressure on the top 2 and will need to keep winning to keep these hopes alive, while the Bombers dropped from the top 4 with their loss to Prahran last week. The Demons have been most improved with the ball, with their side being the first team to 100 wickets taken and batting with the fewest wickets lost, while the Bombers are not far behind in both counts. With the bowling pressure expected in this game, runs will be treated like gold and the winner of the game will be the side who can adapt best to the opponent’s bowling attack. On recent form, the Demons appear to just be in front.
Fitzroy Doncaster (11th) host Kingston Hawthorn (18th) at Schramms Reserve #1. The Lions have kept their chances of another Finals appearance alive with a close win over Dandenong while the Hawks were simply outclassed against the reigning Premiers in Carlton. The Lions were expected to be weaker with the ball after their exodus prior to the season but have countered that reasonably well, while the Hawks will be looking to improve on their last showing, with their batting their stronger suit this season (currently scored more runs than Dandenong and the Monash Tigers). On current form, the Lions will go in as favourites in this encounter.
Melbourne University (1st) host Footscray (5th) at the University Main Oval. Another top end clash that will shape the high end of the ladder, with both sides coming off wins after the Christmas break. Both sides have been quite strong so far with the willow, while their bowlers have been doing enough to contain opponents. The point of battle will be the Uni batsmen against the Footscray attack, with the Dogs needing to occasionally find some more consistency with the ball from their attack. On recent form, Uni will just start as favourites but the Dogs will be keen to see how they fare against the competition leaders.
Prahran (9th) host the Greenvale Kangaroos (16th) at Toorak Park. The True Blues returned to the winners list last week with victory over Essendon to keep their Finals hopes alive, while the Kangaroos tried hard against Melbourne. The area of question for the Kangaroos will be how their batting card goes against the Prahran attack, as the True Blues will be keen to cash in with the bat if they get the opportunity to bat first, with the True Blues attack currently conceding the fewest runs against, while the Kangaroos have taken the fewest wickets bowling this season. On current form, the True Blues will start as favourites on the current strength of their bowling attack.
Finally, St Kilda (10th) host Northcote (4th) at the CitiPower Centre in their Indigenous match. The Saints just held on to victory over the Monash Tigers but slipped out of the Top 8, while the Dragons defeated the Camberwell Magpies to keep pressure on the top sides and continue their current run towards a Finals appearance. The current area of concern is the Saints batting card against the Dragons bowling attack, with the Dragons 3rd for most runs scored this season, having made 500 more runs so far than the Saints but have lost 22 wickets more. On current form, the Dragons will just start in front but am not discounting the hosts at any case.
Women’s Premier Cricket also resumed last weekend, with action played on 3 of the 4 games (with the blockbuster EMP vs Box Hill game unfortunately washed out without a ball bowled on the Saturday). Highlights included:
This weekend sees clubs have players returning from the Australian Country Cricket Championships in Toowoomba, but also losing some players at the Under 18 National Championships in Tasmania.
Carlton-Brunswick (6th) host EMP (1st) at AG Gillon Oval. The Strikers will come into this game with some confidence after taking the points last week against Ringwood while the Bombers will be keen to play after being washed out against Box Hill. The Strikers will need to find a similar effort with the bat to give it their best shot against the Bombers, while the latter will be keen to blast them out of proceedings if all their contracted players are available. With the gap closing after the weekend on the Bombers, they will be keen to get the points out of this game to keep the rest of the competition at bay. EMP to start favourites.
Melbourne (5th) host Prahran (2nd) at the Albert Ground. The Demons have gone cold in recent rounds and will be keen to rebound with a big scalp to restart their season, while the True Blues have jumped to 2nd on the ladder after their win over Dandenong and the EMP-Box Hill washout. The Demons are 6 points behind 4th and another loss may find the current 6-point gap even bigger by the end of the round, while the latter will be keen to keep winning to keep holding 2nd position. With both sides keen to boost the point tallies, this can go closer than expected. On current form, Prahran will have to start as favourites.
Box Hill (3rd) host Ringwood (7th) at Box Hill City Oval. The Mustangs had a washout last weekend while the Rams could not contain the Strikers in the run chase at home. The Mustangs have been quite strong this season and will be keen to keep pressure on EMP and Prahran at the top of the table, while the Rams have been in several games this season and faded at the end due to their young sides’ inexperience in tight moments. Both sides have been heavily reliant on their skippers’ batting efforts so far and this will be the key battle in this match. On recent form, the Mustangs will start as favourites but am expecting some pressure from the Rams in this game.
Finally, Dandenong (8th) host Plenty Valley (4th) at Shepley Oval. The Panthers have been close to victory a couple of times this season but have missed out, while the Bats have been hitting some form in recent rounds. The Panthers will be keen to see their Victoria Country representatives this round to bring some experience back in the line-up, while the Bats will be looking to keep them quiet on the day. The big battle will be the Panthers batting card against the Bats’ bowling line-up, with my gut feel suggesting that the Bats will start as favourites in a game that could get a lot closer than the ladder positions suggest.
Congratulations go to the following members within Premier Cricket:
The following Milestones were achieved during play in the last weekend prior to Christmas:
MEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 11 – SATURDAY 18 JANUARY (11:00am Start)
CAMBERWELL MAGPIES V FRANKSTON PENINSULA at Camberwell Sports Ground
Umpires M Nolan & A Hind
GEELONG V CARLTON at Geelong Cricket Ground
Umpires J Leonard-Scott & V Calabro
MONASH TIGERS V CASEY-SOUTH MELBOURNE at Central Reserve North
Umpires S Pitts & G Azzopardi
DANDENONG V RINGWOOD at Shepley Oval
Umpires G Bawa & C Lai
MELBOURNE V ESSENDON at Albert Ground
Umpires C Grant & L Uthenwoldt
FITZROY DONCASTER V KINGSTON HAWTHORN at Schramms Reserve #1
Umpires R Birch & B Sheahan
MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY V FOOTSCRAY at University Main Oval
Umpires A Medina & D Henderson
PRAHRAN V GREENVALE KANGAROOS at Toorak Park
Umpires M Malmberg & J Birchall
ST KILDA V NORTHCOTE at Bill Lawry Oval
Umpires S Olufson & T Wendelken
WOMEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 7 ONE DAY – SUNDAY 19 JANUARY (11:00am Start)
CARLTON-BRUNSWICK V ESSENDON MARIBYRNONG PARK at AG Gillon Oval
Umpires C James & A McCarthy
MELBOURNE V PRAHRAN at Albert Ground
Umpires S Pitts & S Fishley
BOX HILL V RINGWOOD at Box Hill City Oval
Umpires W Downey & P Welbourn
DANDENONG V PLENTY VALLEY at Shepley Oval
Umpires R Harrison & T Ventura