Here we are – just one round of the Home and Away games in the 2020/21 Victorian Premier Cricket season. For some clubs this will be an opportunity to fine-tune performances ahead of the Finals, for others it is ‘now or never’ as they look to secure a Finals berth and for the rest it is an opportunity to go out there and have a ‘free swing’ before commencing planning for season 2021/22.
On-field performances last week were aplenty and came from some of the in-form players of the season. With the bat, leading the charge was Carlton captain-coach Evan Gulbis (168* vs Casey-South Melbourne), while St Kilda skipper Adam Crosthwaite (109* vs Greenvale Kangaroos), Prahran’s Damon Egan (114 vs Footscray) and reigning Ryder Medalist James Seymour (108* vs Dandenong) all flexed their muscles with centuries.
With the ball, the pick of the bowling spells came from Melbourne’s Fergus O’Neill (4/16 vs Camberwell Magpies), St Kilda’s Henry Thornton (4/22 vs Greenvale Kangaroos), Geelong Kieran Helwig (4/41 vs Fitzroy Doncaster) and Prahran’s Andrew Perrin (4/62 vs Footscray), while another 15 bowlers came away with 3-wicket hauls for their work.
This round will be the ‘last chance saloon’ round for each club between 4th and 10th on the ladder as results will either make their season or end in heartbreak. Also, up for grabs is an elusive Home Final in Week One as 4th place on the ladder is not locked away yet (Carlton, Melbourne and Prahran have secured a Home Final).
The matches for Round 17 are as follows:
Ringwood (11th) host Footscray (12th) at Russell Lucas Oval. Both sides will be keen to finish on a high note, with weather and missed opportunities cruelling their chances at being in contention for a Finals position. The Rams were ‘thankful’ to tie with Frankston Peninsula last week as the game went down to the last ball, while the Dogs were gallant in a high-scoring loss to Prahran. On paper, the Dogs appear to have more consistency in their batting depth across this season with loads being shared and would go in favourites.
Richmond (13th) host Fitzroy Doncaster (4th) at Central Reserve North. The equation is simple for the Lions – Win with bonus point or Win and have St Kilda does not achieve the Bonus Point against Frankston Peninsula and they host a Finals match next week. Standing in their way is Richmond, who let slip an upset opportunity against Melbourne University last week and will be keen to finish well. If the Lions have Glenn Maxwell at their disposal again for this encounter then they should be favourites to secure 4th place.
Essendon (10th) host Prahran (3rd) at Windy Hill. One of the ‘games to watch’ this weekend. Prahran already has a Home Final secured but can finish 2nd if Carlton defeat Melbourne, while the Bombers need to win at minimum and rely on both Northcote and Melbourne Uni losing their games to make the Finals on percentage. On paper, while the Bombers appear to have a strong side, their top order (apart from James Seymour) appears brittle in recent weeks when in comparison to Prahran’s batting card and this might be the key difference in this battle.
Dandenong (9th) host the Greenvale Kangaroos (16th) at Shepley Oval. The Panthers have one simple equation for this weekend: Win and play Finals. No other result will be satisfactory for them after last season’s ‘close shave’ where St Kilda denied them in the last round and gave Essendon the last spot in the Top 8. With James Nanopoulos in fine form with the ball, this might be an opportunity for the batsmen to find some form with a pending Finals position on the offering, while the Kangaroos will be keen to finish on a high but it will take a mighty effort here. Panthers go in as favourites.
Melbourne (2nd) host Carlton (1st) at the Albert Ground. There will be celebrations aplenty at the Albert Ground this Saturday with the Demons unfurling their 2019/20 1st XI Flag and both clubs will be competing for the Dean Jones Cup in tribute of ‘Deano’ and his service to both clubs. Both clubs can still also win the Club Championship so will be keen to get results their way to take this title. On-field, both sides are running into form and it could be a preview of this season’s Final come the 17th April. Current momentum says the Blues on the road but the Dees to win the Club Championship.
Kingston Hawthorn (18th) host Melbourne University (8th) at Walter Galt Reserve. Just like Dandenong, Melbourne University’s equation is simple: Win and play Finals. Standing in the way is Kingston Hawthorn, who have seen improved performances on-field, despite what the results column says. Both sides have struggled with the ball at times and this area will be the one that could decide the game. On paper, Melbourne University should have enough firepower to get through, but will the Hawks bring out another ‘St Kilda’ game and end a club’s chances of Finals?
Casey-South Melbourne (14th) host the Camberwell Magpies (15th) at Casey Fields #4. The Swans will want to finish on a high after a tough recent run, while the Magpies will be keen to secure another win and look to build for season 2021/22. Both sides have had their chances this season, but they will want to chalk that ‘W’ on their record at the end of the season. On paper, the Swans appear to have been stronger with the bat and this may be the difference in this game, but the Magpies have the recent match form and would be primed for an upset here.
Geelong (6th) host Northcote (7th) at the Geelong Cricket Ground. For both sides, the situation is as follows: Win and make the Finals, lose and miss the Finals altogether if other results go as expected. The Cats’ have been the highest scoring side for most of the season before being overtaken by Carlton last weekend, while the Dragons have been a side that has fluctuated in form over the course of the season. The Cats will need to find some extra spark with the ball if they want to win and the Dragons need to contain the Cats’ leading scorers early to win. Gut says the Cats at home.
Finally, St Kilda (5th) host Frankston Peninsula (17th) at the Harry Trott Oval. The Saints will look at this game and will go out there with the incentive that a win with a bonus point and an ordinary win to Fitzroy Doncaster will see them host a Finals match in Week One. The Heat have played well the last two weeks and have been stiff to come away with only a draw and a tie for their efforts and will be keen to produce an upset. On paper, the Saints appear to be the far stronger team and if they turn up in the right headspace should take the points and potentially finish with a home final.
In Women’s Premier Cricket, wet weather has resulted in ‘take two’ being enacted for the Women’s Premier 1st XI Grand Final on the Reserve Day this Sunday (28th March). This game commences at 10:30am.
Dandenong (3rd) take on Box Hill (4th) at the CitiPower Centre after both sides pulled out the ‘underdog’ card in the Semi Finals and defeated their opponents in EMP (5 runs) and Melbourne (6 wickets) respectively to make their way to ‘the big dance’.
The Panthers have been in some strong form with the bat with team leaders Nicole Faltum (185 @ 23.13, 3 catches/1 stumping) and Kim Garth (445 @ 44.50, 15 @ 20.33, 6 catches) leading from the front, with support with the bat from Tiana Atkinson (466 @ 33.29) and former Victorian representative Kelly Applebee (228 @ 22.80). With the ball, the Panthers will have access to a strong attack with Emma ‘Gags’ Gallagher (21 @ 17.00) and Poppy Gardner (16 @ 24.13) leading the attack this season alongside Garth.
The Mustangs have really had a quiet season and planning may be impacted with Madeleine Clayton being suspended for Dissent after their loss to Ringwood in the 2nd XI Semi Final. A lot of weight around run-scoring is on the shoulders of all-rounder Zoe Griffiths (443 @ 36.92, 22 @ 15.86, 3 catches), with Tahlia Meier (206 @ 22.89), keeper Lara Shannon (172 @ 19.11, 10 catches, 2 stumpings) and Victorian rep Anna Lanning (149 @ 29.80) the next best with the blade this season. With the ball, expect the mix of former State rep and Betty Wilson medallist Hayleigh Brennan (8 @ 22.25), skipper Dani Montague (19 @ 17.84), Isabel White (18 @ 10.28) and Holly Spencer (11 @ 31.00).
This game has the scope to go either way with the variety in the Mustangs’ attack against the all-round line-up of the Panthers. If the Panthers are near full-strength, they would go in with the advantage but gut feel says the Mustangs would take ‘Aggie’ home if they can find any chink in the Panthers line-up.
In the Women’s Premier 2nd XI competition last weekend, Melbourne took out the Premiership over Ringwood at the Beaumaris Secondary College – North Oval, joining Carlton-Brunswick in the Women’s 3rd XI competition as this season’s Premiers so far.
Despite wet conditions across most of Sunday, there was a break in conditions that allowed the game to commence close to start time with the loss of 1 over for each team. Ringwood won the toss and batted first, but soon found themselves at 2/5 with Jordan Watson (2/19) on a hat-trick. The Rams slowly recovered their innings between rain delays but only Sayali Abhyankar (33) and Extras (30) passed 15 as the Rams were dismissed for 116 in the 37th over (with the second rain delay reducing the game to 39 overs). Hasrat Gill (3/23) and Ella Stallwood (2/19) supported the early damage actioned by Jordan Watson with the ball for the Demons.
The Demons began their chase of 115 off 39 overs (DLS calculation) solidly with Charlotte Killeen (16) and Bridie Chesterfield (22) putting on 34 before the latter was dismissed, triggering a collapse of 3/12 to leave the Demons at 3/46 with Cassie Stephens (2/15) and Breannan Harris (1/17) leading this charge. Hasrat Gill (24*) and Jordan Watson (11*) kept the score ticking along before another rain delay saw the sides leave the ground with the Demons at 3/84 off 23.3 overs. DLS Calculations at this point had the Demons ahead of the Par Score for 25 overs when the rain concluded just after 5pm (Par score was 68) and after the umpires called ‘Play’ Melbourne were crowned Premiers for season 2020/21, with Hasrat Gill awarded the Player of the Final award.
Congratulations go to the following members within Premier Cricket:
MEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 17 – SATURDAY 27 MARCH (11:00am Start)
RINGWOOD BV FOOTSCRAY at Russell Lucas Oval
Umpires R Hubbard & J Leonard-Scott
RICHMOND V FITZROY DONCASTER at Central Reserve North
Umpires L McCabe & L McKay
ESSENDON V PRAHRAN at Windy Hill
Umpires D Ireland & C Grant
DANDENONG V GREENVALE KANGAROOS at Shepley Oval
Umpires A Hind & M van Eck
MELBOURNE V CARLTON at Albert Ground
Umpires R Birch & B Sheahan
KINGSTON HAWTHORN V MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY at Walter Galt Reserve
Umpires G Azzopardi & V Calabro
CASEY-SOUTH MELBOURNE V CAMBERWELL MAGPIES at Casey Fields #4
Umpires M Nolan & T Wendelken
GEELONG V NORTHCOTE at Geelong Cricket Ground
Umpires D Brigham & A Medina
ST KILDA V FRANKSTON PENINSULA at Harry Trott Oval
Umpires G Bawa & M Malmberg
WOMEN’S PREMIER 1STS
GRAND FINAL (RESERVE DAY) – SUNDAY 28 MARCH (10:30am Start)
DANDENONG V BOX HILL at CitiPower Centre
Umpires G Azzopardi & L McCabe (Reserve Umpire V Calabro)