At last, the day has dawned for the commencement of the 2020/21 Victorian Premier Cricket season for the Men’s grades. While the Women’s grades commenced last weekend, this weekend will see the return of the Saturday games for the Men’s grades.
With coloured apparel and white balls, this will be a case of who will want to make hay while the sun shines and who for this season are the ‘masters’ of the white ball. Early rounds have been fixtured in ‘groups’ location-wise in case of COVID impacting the competition.
This season will also see the Tigers revert to the Richmond Cricket Club name after several seasons operating as the Monash Tigers. We wish them well in their first game against Melbourne.
The games in Men’s Premier Cricket this weekend are as follows:
St Kilda host the Camberwell Magpies at the CitiPower Centre. The Saints have seen minimal movements this season, losing Damon Egan (Prahran) but gained quick Henry Thornton (NSW), while the Magpies lost Oliver Gunning (Prahran) and Isaac Conway (Essendon then South Australia). The Saints will be keen to commence their season with a win on their ‘spiritual home’, while the Magpies will be keen to ruin the homecoming and take the points back with them. Based on last season’s form, the Saints will have to start as favourites.
Fitzroy Doncaster host Prahran at Schramms Reserve #1. The Lions have been active in movements, but not many moves of significance have come out so far, while the True Blues have been highly active, picking up Oliver Gunning (Camb Magpies), Nick Boland (Frank Pen) and Damon Egan (St Kilda) to their list with only Steve Seymour (retired) a key change. Both sides will be keen for the points to get their seasons underway, with the gut feel suggesting this match might go in the way of the True Blues in a tight one.
Ringwood host Northcote at Russell Lucas Oval. The Rams have seen Sean Flynn join as coach, with Joshua Hudson (Melb) returning but lost Michael Topp (Northcote) and Matt Fotia (Tasmania) the other way, while the Dragons otherwise had been very quiet on the player movement from this season apart from Sam Harbinson’s decision to move to Tasmania. The Rams will be keen to push for finals again after a couple of years of near-misses, while the Dragons will be keen to maintain form from last season that saw them finish in the Top 4. The gut says the Dragons just on the road for me.
Carlton host neighbours Melbourne University at Princes Park #1. The Blues have been quiet on movements but had Captain/Coach Evan Gulbis and keeper Brayden Stepien play in Tasmania to start the season, while Uni has picked up ex-WA quick Simon Mackin to push for the premiership after taking out the Club Championship last season. Both sides will be out there pushing hard to get the win, with the top 3 batsmen in each team to be the deciding factor. On paper, I would say the Blues with the advantage at home.
Geelong host Essendon at the Geelong Cricket Ground. Both sides have new coaches, with Nick Speak (ex-Dand) leading the Cats and Ash Cavigan for the Bombers. The Cats have recruited Tom O’Connell (Rich) and Jonathan Towns (Tasmania) but have kept most of their squad, while the Bombers have been reasonably quiet in this space. The Geelong side has had an advantage of being able to train longer due to Regional restrictions, but will this work to their advantage early? Against this current Essendon line-up, I would say the Bombers on paper have their noses in front.
The Greenvale Kangaroos host Footscray at Greenvale Reserve #1. The Kangaroos have seen Damian Shanahan appointed as Coach this season and they have seen plenty of movements again, with the loss of last season’s playing coach Kaushal Silva to impact their batting. The Dogs meanwhile have picked up Jackson Coleman (Melb) but have been quiet otherwise. This battle will give the Roos a good barometer early as to where they sit against a Finals side from last season. On paper, the Dogs will start as favourites.
Richmond host Melbourne at Central Reserve North. The Tigers have seen the departure of Tom O’Connell (Geelong) and Zac Grech (Ringwood), but will again be keen to develop on their squad of emerging talent. The Demons meanwhile have seen Ben Vague take over from Adam Dale as Coach and saw the departure of Jackson Coleman (Footscray) and Matthew Brown (Subbies) covered by the recruitment of Jack Prestwidge (QLD). The Tigers will be keen to get off the mark, while the Dees will be keen to get a win for ‘Deano’. On paper, the Demons to start favourites.
Casey-South Melbourne host Kingston Hawthorn at Casey Fields #4. The Swans have been fairly stable in the off-season, but the loss of Luke Wells will be noticeable from their side. The Hawks have seen Pete Marshall take over as coach and saw quick Jack Fowler (Dandenong) as their main loss, with Romain Grenville (ex-GK & Subbies) one of several new faces. The big question will be how quickly the Hawks line-up can gel and work together on the field and translating that into results. On paper, the Swans might have just enough experienced heads to take this game.
Finally, Frankston Peninsula host Dandenong at AH Butler Oval. The Heat has appointed Paul Boraston as coach and will be keen to meet his old club, while the loss of Nick Boland (Prahran) will impact their attack. The Panthers have seen a ‘favourite son’ in Warren Ayres return as Coach and with Adam McMaster (Melb) returning plus James Maxwell (Casey-SM) and Jack Fowler (King Haw) joining to bolster their pace brigade it might be the jump they need to push higher. Gut feel says the Panthers have too much experience on hand for this battle.
In Women’s Premier Cricket, Round 2 is upon us, with some early movements across the opening round results making for some interesting reading.
On Saturday, Essendon Maribyrnong Park host Plenty Valley at Aberfeldie Park. Both sides are coming off opening round losses and will be keen to get their campaigns started with a win. The Bats are going to need a lot out of skipper Sophie Reid, Grace Jones and Meagan Ciavarella to give themselves a good chance against a Bombers line-up that still contains the likes of Briana Binch, Nat Schilov, Alyssa Humphries and Jenny Taffs. The gut feel suggests that the Bombers will get their title defence rolling with the points here.
On Sunday, Dandenong host Prahran at Shepley Oval. The Panthers comfortably accounted for Ringwood and will be keen to make it 2-from-2 here, while the True Blues will find this match as hard a challenge as last week. Several players started with positive form for the Panthers such as Kim Garth, Jess Matin and Tiana Atkinson, while the True Blues will be keen to get some starts for their batters and to get wickets at more regular intervals. Early form says the Panthers with the home ground advantage will be too strong here.
Melbourne host Box Hill at Beaumaris Secondary College – North Oval. Both sides came away with the points last week and will arguably be the ‘match of the round’ this weekend. The Demons saw the likes of Amy Vine, Steph Townsend, Anna O’Donnell and Erica Quinn start well and will bring a strong battle against the Mustangs’ Zoe Griffiths, Dani Montague and Isabel White. In this game, who can score the most runs out of the top four bats will go a long way to the result with the gut feel suggesting the Demons at home in a close one.
Finally, Ringwood host Carlton-Brunswick at Russell Lucas Oval. The Rams will be better for the run after their game against Dandenong and come up against a Strikers side that accounted for Prahran. The key challenge for the Rams will be how to dismiss the Sri Lankans Nipuni Hansika and Rebeka Vandort early, with the result of this potentially changing the game if done early. My prediction is the Strikers to make it 2-from-2 in a close game if their bowlers can keep the Rams’ batting card contained.
Congratulations go to the following members within Premier Cricket:
MEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 1 – SATURDAY 28 NOVEMBER (11:00am Start)
ST KILDA V CAMBERWELL MAGPIES at CitiPower Centre
Umpires S Craig & C Grant
FITZROY DONCASTER V PRAHRAN at Schramms Reserve #1
Umpires G Azzopardi & R Hubbard
RINGWOOD V NORTHCOTE at Russell Lucas Oval
Umpires J Leonard-Scott & M van Eck
CARLTON V MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY at Princes Park #1
Umpires G Bawa & A Medina
GEELONG V ESSENDON at Geelong Cricket Ground
Umpires V Calabro & B Sheahan
GREENVALE KANGAROOS V FOOTSCRAY at Greenvale Reserve #1
Umpires D Brigham & L Uthenwoldt
RICHMOND V MELBOURNE at Central Reserve North
Umpires W Downey & D Ireland
CASEY-SOUTH MELBOURNE V KINGSTON HAWTHORN at Casey Fields #4
Umpires P Gillespie & L McCabe
FRANKSTON PENINSULA V DANDENONG at AH Butler Oval
Umpires S Olufson & T Wendelken
WOMEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 2 – SATURDAY 28 NOVEMBER (11:00am Start)
ESSENDON MARIBYRNONG PARK V PLENTY VALLEY at Aberfeldie Park
Umpires R Birch & L McKay
ROUND 2 – SUNDAY 29 NOVEMBER (11:00am Start)
DANDENONG V PRAHRAN at Shepley Oval
Umpires A Barrow & M Nolan
MELBOURNE V BOX HILL at Beaumaris Secondary College – North Oval
Umpires A Hind & M Muthugounder
RINGWOOD V CARLTON-BRUNSWICK at Russell Lucas Oval
Umpires M Malmberg & S Pitts