Round Two of the Men’s Premier Cricket saw wet and windy conditions challenge some sides, with a handful of matches having to be determined by Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method after rain curtailed some run chases.
Highlights from the weekend included the dynamic Carlton duo of Brayden Stepien (157*) and Evan Gulbis (5/47), Ringwood’s Ian Holland (5/20), Kingston Hawthorn’s second-gamer Abhishek Jain (148), Richmond’s young gun Jake Fraser-McGurk (99) and St Kilda’s Jonathan Merlo (123*).
This week’s action sees all current top-eight teams playing against one another, with some serious movement expected to occur to the ladder come 7pm on Saturday Night.
The games in Men’s Premier Cricket this weekend are as follows:
Ringwood (1st) host St Kilda (2nd) at Russell Lucas Oval. Both sides have started their campaigns strongly, with a strong preference to the white ball game being shown in early encounters. The big battle in this match-up will be how each side’s batting card goes against their opponents’ attacks, with the winner being the one that can ‘shake off’ their opponents the most. On current form, the Rams might just have their noses in front in this game with the BBL-less Saints team at home.
Northcote (13th) host Fitzroy Doncaster (14th) at Bill Lawry Oval. The Dragons jumped on the winners’ table last week over Prahran while the Lions tried hard against St Kilda but found the challenge too large. The Dragons will be keen to ‘break out’ and set a big total against an opponent, while the Lions could provide a more than competitive opponent if they can set themselves a target of around the 200 mark. The Dragons with the advantage in a close game.
The Camberwell Magpies (18th) host Prahran (11th) at Camberwell Sports Ground. The Magpies have struggled to get out of first gear in their first two games and will find another tough challenge against the True Blues, who enjoy the white ball and are capable of anything on their day. If the Magpies are to put themselves in with a chance of an upset, they need to get on top of the True Blues attack early and set a large total. On paper, the True Blues appear to have the stronger side.
Footscray (7th) host Carlton (5th) at Mervyn G Hughes Oval. The Dogs have seen two varying performances so far on-field with the bat, while the Blues have come away with two strong results in their favour thanks to a dominant display with both bat and ball at key moments. On paper, the Blues appear to have a more experienced all-round team on paper and should come away with the points but I wouldn’t discount the Dogs if their batting can fire and put pressure on the Blues’ attack.
Melbourne University (8th) host Essendon (3rd) at the University Main Oval. Uni has played two strong games so far and have seen mixed results with varied line-ups, while the Bombers have been very strong with the bat so far and their bowlers have been quite attacking. The key battle in this game is to see whether Uni can expose the Bombers batting card after #3 in the order and see how they operate for the first time this year. On paper, the Bombers with their noses in front.
The Greenvale Kangaroos (17th) host Geelong (15th) at Greenvale Reserve #1. The Kangaroos are in another rebuilding phase and will be keen to notch a win to get their campaign going, while the Cats are keen to get off the mark after games against two strong opponents. The pressure for both sides will be to bowl an opponent out to get their bowling attacks functioning for post-Christmas. On paper, the Cats have the stronger line-up on paper and should come away with the points.
Dandenong (9th) host Richmond (10th) at Shepley Oval. Both sides will be keen to come away with the points in this game after scoring wins last weekend. There is extra incentive for players to perform in this game with the awarding of the Peter Davies Medal for the Player of the Match, with Davies having been a key player for both the Tigers and Waverley (before becoming Dandenong). On current form, I would say experience will be the difference and for that the Panthers to edge ahead.
Frankston Peninsula (16th) host Casey-South Melbourne (12th) at AH Butler Oval. The Heat found themselves on the wrong end of a Kingston Hawthorn performance that has not been seen for some years, while the Swans had a challenge against Richmond and an ‘on fire’ Jake Fraser-McGurk. The Heat need to find some wickets and runs early, while the Swans need to find a strong batting performance to show they can make big totals. On paper, the Swans with their ‘necks’ just in front.
Finally, Melbourne (4th) host Kingston Hawthorn (6th) at Beaumaris Secondary College – North Oval. The Demons have been quite competitive so far this season, with last week’s result a true case of the depth of their team, while the Hawks have been the surprise packet so far. This match will provide a far truer test as to what level they need to be at but will also give the Hawks a true opportunity to play with freedom. On paper, the Demons have the better line-up and should win.
In Women’s Premier Cricket, Round 4 is upon us, with a couple of early surprises shown so far. After three rounds, last season’s Finalists in EMP, Prahran and Plenty Valley are currently occupying the bottom three positions while Dandenong, Melbourne and Ringwood (who all finished outside the Top 4 last season) are currently occupying the top three positions.
Round 4 will see some movement in the ladder, with sides being keen to break losing streaks and others keen to keep their winning streaks going.
Prahran (8th) host Essendon Maribyrnong Park (7th) at Toorak Park. Who would have thought that the two sides that were going to play in the 2019/20 Grand Final when COVID ended the season would be occupying these positions at this point of the season? While the True Blues are going through a rebuilding phase, the Bombers have struggled to break through with the ball, costing them in two rounds where weather impacted their results. If the Bombers can bowl the True Blues out for a chaseable total, they will have one foot towards breaking their winless start.
Ringwood (3rd) host Box Hill (4th) at Russell Lucas Oval. The Rams are coming off a dominant display against Prahran while the Mustangs came away with the points against EMP in a rain-affected game. This match will be a stronger test for the Rams to see just how much their young side has developed against a side with some vastly experienced and quality players. The Mustangs will be keen to get away to a good start with the bat to put the pressure back on the Rams’ bowling attack to see how they adjust to the situation. On current form, my gut feel suggests the Mustangs in a close game.
Dandenong (1st) host Plenty Valley (6th) at Shepley Oval. The Panthers have started the season strongly with three wins and will be keen to make this four-from-four against a Bats side that has been up-and-down with their form. The Panthers appear to have found a strong mix of youth and experience and have gelled well so far in their early encounters, while the Bats have recently seen Sophie Day return from WBBL duty but have a side that shows some vulnerability when batting, especially if early wickets fall. On paper, the Panthers will start as favourites in this game.
Finally, Carlton-Brunswick (5th) host Melbourne (2nd) at Princes Park #1. The Strikers have been competitive so far with a fairly new side, while the Demons have made a strong start in their push to return to finals action. The Strikers need to find a strong start with the bat if they want to put in a strong challenge in this game, while the Demons will be keen to keep their current early-season form going with both bat and ball and an all-round team effort in their games so far. On current form, the Demons will start as strong favourites in this encounter.
Congratulations go to the following members within Premier Cricket:
MEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 3 – SATURDAY 12 DECEMBER (11:00am Start)
RINGWOOD V ST KILDA at Russell Lucas Oval
Umpires D Brigham & L McCabe
NORTHCOTE V FITZROY DONCASTER at Bill Lawry Oval
Umpires R Birch & S Olufson
CAMBERWELL MAGPIES V PRAHRAN at Camberwell Sports Ground
Umpires M Malmberg & B Davies
FOOTSCRAY V CARLTON at Mervyn G Hughes Oval
Umpires C Grant & B Sheahan
MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY V ESSENDON at University Main Oval
Umpires S Brne & L Uthenwoldt
GREENVALE KANGAROOS V GEELONG at Greenvale Reserve #1
Umpires G Bawa & R Hubbard
DANDENONG V RICHMOND at Shepley Oval
Umpires A Hind & C James
FRANKSTON PENINSULA V CASEY-SOUTH MELBOURNE at AH Butler Oval
Umpires J Leonard-Scott & A Medina
MELBOURNE V KINGSTON HAWTHORN at Beaumaris Secondary College – North Oval
Umpires M Muthugounder & S Pitts
WOMEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 4 – SUNDAY 12 DECEMBER (11:00am Start)
PRAHRAN V ESSENDON MARIBYRNONG PARK at Toorak Park
Umpires V Calabro & M van Eck
RINGWOOD V BOX HILL at Russell Lucas Oval
Umpires S Fishley & T Wendelken
DANDENONG V PLENTY VALLEY at Shepley Oval
Umpires G Azzopardi & D Ireland
CARLTON-BRUNSWICK V MELBOURNE at Princes Park #1
Umpires W Downey & M Nolan