Round 11 has arrived and with the scent of Finals cricket starting to permeate the nostrils of several sides will see some high-intensity cricket as sides jostle for a chance of action at the back half of March.
Highlights from last weekend saw:
This weekend sees the return of the whites and red ball as the pressure begins to intensify for those sides fighting to secure an elusive Finals position, while those out of the running can still shape how the positions fall.
The Camberwell Magpies (12th) host Fitzroy Doncaster (11th) at the Camberwell Sports Ground. The Magpies have regrouped well in recent rounds, with 3 wins in the last 4 rounds showing an improve in form and will be keen to make that 4 in the last 5 against the Lions, who will be looking to rebound strongly after unexpectedly dropping a game they had been expected to win against Kingston Hawthorn. While there is currently 5 points difference between the two sides, the Lions will be keen to end the Magpies’ faint chance of Finals, while the latter will be keen to make a statement to stay in with a chance. I feel the Lions’ more recent experience in pressure games will be the difference in this battle.
Carlton (2nd) host St Kilda (7th) at Princes Park #1. The Blues continue to take everything that is thrown at them, defeating Geelong last week before cleaning up the Renegades Conference title of the Vic SUPER SLAM for the second season on the Sunday. The Saints defeated Northcote and will be keen to see where they sit against the reigning Premiers as a victory and other results go their way could see them jump up positions (with 3rd to 8th only separated by 4 points). The big battle in this game will be how the Saints batting card takes on the Blues’ bowling attack, who with Cam Stevenson in red-hot form will be keen to make early inroads. While the Saints can take it up to the Blues, they will start as the outsider in this battle on recent form.
Casey-South Melbourne (14th) host Northcote (4th) at Casey Fields #4. Any small hope the Swans had of making the Finals effectively went out the window with a loss to the Monash Tigers, while the Dragons’ confidence took a hit with a loss to St Kilda on the Saturday. The Swans on their day have a batting line-up that can match most sides on the park but their bowling continues to be their Achilles Heel with a lack of penetration into opposition batting cards, while the Dragons have improved quite noticeably in both areas this season with their rise up the ladder a good show of this. If the Swans can put early pressure on with the ball they are in with a chance of an upset, but on current form, the advantage will have to start with the Dragons.
The Greenvale Kangaroos (17th) host Dandenong (13th) at Greenvale Reserve #1. The Kangaroos have been noticeably improved in their efforts this season, without the results fully going their way (as evidenced last weekend with a competitive showing against Prahran), while the Panthers upset Ringwood at Shepley Oval to produce a rare highlight in an otherwise frustrating season. The areas of concern for both sides have been the lack of bowling penetration for the Kangaroos, while the Panthers have seen a reduced output with the willow compared to recent seasons costing them several matches. If Kaushal Silva can build a knock and have support then the Roos are a chance of an upset, but on paper the Panthers will have the advantage due to their bowling line-up strength.
Essendon (5th) host Geelong (9th) at Windy Hill. The Bombers rebounded with a strong victory over Melbourne, while the Cats were lucky to get as close as they did to Carlton thanks to the all-round efforts of Hayden Butterworth after a top-order collapse. Both sides have been yo-yoing with their form in recent rounds, with the Bombers looking for victory to potentially sneak inside the top 4 while the Cats need to win to keep any chance of sneaking into the Finals alive. The Cats’ still have the highest-scoring batting line-up this season but will be taking on the 4th-best bowling and fielding effort in terms of wickets taken. If the Cats’ bowling line-up can contain the likes of Michael Hill, Aaron Ayer and James Seymour they have a chance, but the advantage sits with the Bombers.
Footscray (6th) host Melbourne (3rd) at Mervyn G Hughes Oval. The Dogs were defeated by the top-of-the-table Melbourne University, with a batting collapse at the top order the cause, while Melbourne was on the receiving end of a loss to Essendon after they had to rely on the lower order to get them to a competitive total. The big battle in this match will be how the Dogs batting card goes against the 3rd-best bowling attack for wickets taken and runs conceded. If the Dogs are a genuine chance in this match, they will need their batting card to be on song and their bowling attack will need to find some more penetration as their attack has seen the least reward with the ball of any of the top 8 teams. On paper, the Demons appear to be just in front on recent form.
Frankston Peninsula (16th) host Ringwood (10th) at AH Butler Oval. The Heat gave it their best and just fell short against the Camberwell Magpies, while the Rams’ finals aspirations took a major hit with a loss to Dandenong on the road seeing them slip outside the top 8 and finding themselves now 4 points outside 8th position. The Rams this season have been stronger with the ball, while the Heat have been one of the higher scoring sides in the competition but have lacked penetration with the ball to capitalize on this work being done by their batting line-up costing them a higher position on the ladder. On current form, the Rams will start as favourites and will need to find another Outright result somewhere in the run home to potentially sneak inside for Finals action.
Kingston Hawthorn (18th) host the Monash Tigers (15th) at Walter Galt Reserve. The Hawks had something to celebrate last Saturday night after they upset Fitzroy Doncaster in the last over to put a major dent in their finals aspirations, while the Tigers produced an effort in a similar vein to effectively end the chances of Casey-South Melbourne. The Hawks have been stronger this season with the bat than other years, but the lack of experience and penetration with the ball has been an issue, while the Tigers’ inexperienced side has been quite strong with the ball but will grow stronger over time with the bat. On current form, this game could go either way but the Tigers will have to start with the advantage based on the strength of their bowling attack.
Finally, Melbourne University (1st) host Prahran (8th) at the University Main Oval. Uni accounted for Footscray despite a century to Daniel Sartori forcing the target above 200, while Prahran defeated the Greenvale Kangaroos by 5 wickets with Sam Cook firing with a 5-wicket haul and a measured run chase. The True Blues currently hold 8th by 3 points and will need to upset the ladder leaders to potentially stay inside, but will need to dismiss the Uni batting card who has made the 2nd-highest runs for this season and has lost the 3rd-fewest wickets, while having their own batting card fire (with only James Billington (493) and Jake Hancock (310) having passed 200 runs this season. While this will be a good battle for both sides, on current form Uni will have to start as favourites at home.
Women’s Premier Cricket. Highlights saw:
Round 8 will see some clubs fighting to keep in touch of the Top 4, while other sides will be keen to keep their stronghold on their position as the season edges closer to the Finals.
Saturday will see Essendon Maribyrnong Park (1st) host Melbourne (5th) at Aberfeldie Park. The Bombers continue to hold the top spot and will be keen to not drop their bundle against the Demons, who are capable of matching them on their day but their best has seldom been seen in the One Day format this season. If the Bombers get back all their Victorian players this will make the task harder for the Demons, who might nearly find any run towards Finals impossible if the gap between them and Plenty Valley grows past 2 matches. On current form, the Bombers will have to start as favourites in this battle.
Sunday will see Plenty Valley (4th) host Prahran (2nd) at Yarrambat War Memorial Park. The Bats will be keen to regroup after dropping their game to Dandenong and missing a chance to widen the gap between them and the contenders outside the Top 4, while Prahran are coming off a strong team performance against Melbourne at the Albert with their top order finding some form with the bat. The Bats will be thankful if the Prahran state players happen to miss but will need to be on their best game to match up against a full-strength side. On current form, Prahran are to start favourites on the road.
Carlton-Brunswick (6th) host Box Hill (3rd) at Princes Park #1. The Strikers briefly took the challenge up to ladder leaders EMP to show what they can do in the right situation, while the Mustangs will have been ruing the storm that washed them out just 36 runs from victory and 6.4 overs short of the match being deemed ‘live’ against Ringwood. The Strikers have been competitive on occasions but will need to find their one of their best efforts to take on the Mustangs, while the visitors will be keen to find some support in the batting line-up for Rebecca Carter. On recent form, the Mustangs to start as favourites on the road.
Finally, Ringwood (7th) host Dandenong (8th) at Russell Lucas Oval. The Rams were saved by the rain against Box Hill when they match was just about a foregone conclusion, while the Panthers joined the winners circle for the first time in One Day games this season with a momentum-denting win against Plenty Valley. This game has the potential of being one of the closest of the round, especially if the Panthers can dismiss the Rams’ two best bats in Bhavisha Devchand and Una Raymond-Hoey early, while the Rams can do the same if they dismiss the likes of Kim Garth and Kelly Applebee. On current form, the Rams will just start with their noses in front.
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 12 – SATURDAY 25 JANUARY & SATURDAY 1 FEBRUARY (11:00am Start)
CAMBERWELL MAGPIES V FITZROY DONCASTER at Camberwell Sports Ground
Umpires M Malmberg & V Calabro
CARLTON V ST KILDA at Princes Park #1
Umpires M van Eck & A Medina
CASEY-SOUTH MELBOURNE V NORTHCOTE at Casey Fields #4
Umpires W Downey & G Bawa
GREENVALE KANGAROOS V DANDENONG at Greenvale Reserve #1
Umpires R Patterson & C Grant
ESSENDON V GEELONG at Windy Hill
Umpires G Azzopardi & C James
FOOTSCRAY V MELBOURNE at Mervyn G Hughes Oval
Umpires D Ireland & R Birch
FRANKSTON PENINSULA V RINGWOOD at AH Butler Oval
Umpires L Uthenwoldt & M Robertson
KINGSTON HAWTHORN V MONASH TIGERS at Walter Galt Reserve
Umpires B Davies & S Olufson
MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY V PRAHRAN at University Main Oval
Umpires T Wendelken & S Pitts
WOMEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 8 ONE DAY – SATURDAY 25 JANUARY (11:00am Start)
ESSENDON MARIBYRNONG PARK V MELBOURNE at Aberfeldie Park
Umpires C Lai & L McKay
ROUND 8 ONE DAY – SUNDAY 26 JANUARY (11:00am Start)
PLENTY VALLEY V PRAHRAN at Yarrambat War Memorial Park
Umpires A Ali & C Francis
CARLTON-BRUNSWICK V BOX HILL at Princes Park #1
Umpires D Brigham & L Tenace
RINGWOOD V DANDENONG at Russell Lucas Oval