The weather managed to bypass the Melbourne area on Friday night, cricket was able to commence last weekend and ‘normal order’ appears to have been resumed after a delayed start to the 2021/22 Victorian Premier Cricket season.
Round 3 saw a major upset with last season’s Semi Finalist in Fitzroy Doncaster going down to the new-look Frankston Peninsula by 27 runs off the back of a stunning performance with the bat from Vishesh Bansal. Some other close results included Carlton’s 13-run win over Northcote, Geelong’s 33-run win over the Camberwell Magpies and Melbourne University’s 38-run win over Kingston Hawthorn.
Last weekend saw 4 centuries and 23 half centuries scored with St Kilda duo Patrick Rowe (126*) and Ed Newman (105), Melbourne University skipper Fergus McKenna (112) and Frankston Peninsula’s Vishesh Bansal (137) all raising their bats for triple figures, whilst with the ball the pick of the bowlers were led by Melbourne University’s Fawad Ahmed (4/10) and Melbourne’s Fergus O’Neill (4/11), with St Kilda’s Josh Bartlett, Ringwood’s Jackson Freeman, Casey-South Melbourne’s Luke Shelton, Fitzroy Doncaster’s Kobe Smith and Northcote’s Michael Topp also taking 4-fors.
Round 4 will see a couple of interesting matchups, with a new grudge match between two clubs likely to be a game to watch and a battle between two neighbours at the top end of the ladder.
Prahran (10th) host the Camberwell Magpies (13th) at Toorak Park. The True Blues returned to the winners list last weekend after a strong tussle against Essendon on the road whilst the Magpies took the game up to Geelong at the Cattery but ultimately fell just short in a high-scoring affair. Both sides will be keen to make the push for a top 8 position come Saturday Night. On paper, the True Blues appear to be the stronger and more experienced team here and on normal expectations the hosts should have enough firepower to get their second win on the board.
Frankston Peninsula (11th) host Dandenong (15th) at J Coburn Oval. The new ‘grudge match’ in the South East is expected to have some fireworks after the Heat recruited ex-Dandenong members James Nanopoulos and Jacques Augustin over the off-season. The Heat were in the winners’ circle last weekend by upsetting Fitzroy Doncaster, whilst the Panthers were soundly beaten by Footscray. On paper, both sides are significantly different to this time last season and if Bansal fires again like last weekend then the Heat should be strong enough to notch their second win of the season.
Geelong (8th) host Richmond (14th) at the Geelong Cricket Ground. The Cats did enough to secure the win against the Camberwell Magpies last weekend, whilst the Tigers eventually ran out of roar against a determined Ringwood side despite setting a score of 242 to chase. The Cats are heavily reliant on their batting to get them off to a flyer and conditions at the Cattery are showing some consistency with past seasons for big totals. Based on the line-ups of both teams, I am going out on a limb and think if the Tigers can go big with the bat then they cause a major upset with their attack.
Northcote (7th) host Fitzroy Doncaster (9th) at the Bill Lawry Oval. The Dragons took the game right up to Carlton last week on the road and just fell short at the end whilst the Lions will have licked their wounds after dropping the game to Frankston Peninsula at home. Both sides will be keen to have themselves positioned in the Top 8 come Saturday Night and both teams have players that are in form. The key match-up in this one will be Jack Lalor for the Dragons against Lions skipper Ejaaz Alavi. On paper, the Dragons may just have enough firepower to take this game away from the Lions.
Ringwood (12th) host Carlton (2nd) at Russell Lucas Oval. The Rams come into this game with some form after chasing Richmond’s target down last weekend whilst the Blues got the job done against Northcote. Both sides have key batsmen in early-season form with Tom Rogers (Rams) and Harry Smyth (Blues) already scoring a century and a half century in their two knocks so far so this battle will likely be focused more on the bowling side of things. Whilst both sides have some experience bowlers, on past form the advantage in this one just sits with the Blues on the road.
Melbourne (3rd) host neighbours St Kilda (1st) at the Albert Ground. The ‘top end of town’ clash between these two clubs will be a hotly contested affair, with both sides looking for bragging rights. The Demons have defeated the Greenvale Kangaroos and Casey-South Melbourne so far, whilst the Saints defeated Kingston Hawthorn then the Greenvale Kangaroos. On paper, the only potential concern is who both clubs have played against the first two rounds and this game should give both sides a genuine test. As the old saying goes, this one is harder to pick than a broken nose!
The Greenvale Kangaroos (18th) host Melbourne University (4th) at Greenvale Reserve #1. The Kangaroos have been competitive against Melbourne and St Kilda in the first two rounds whilst the Students have accounted for Richmond and Kingston Hawthorn, albeit in rather close matches. The Kangaroos will be looking for an upset but will need to find support with the bat from the middle order as this has been their Achilles Heel so far, whilst Uni appear to have settled as a side despite last season’s retirements of club stalwarts. On paper, expect the Students to take the points here.
Kingston Hawthorn (16th) host Essendon (17th) at Walter Galt Reserve. This match will be a game to keep an eye on the scores. The Hawks have been very competitive against St Kilda and Melbourne University so far and should go into this battle with confidence, whilst the Bombers performed better against Prahran but struggled against Carlton. With the Bombers having been impacted by retirements and movements over the last 2 summers, this could be the chance for the Hawks to secure a win against them. The gut feel suggests an upset but the Bombers may just do enough.
Finally, Footscray (5th) host Casey-South Melbourne (6th) at the Mervyn G Hughes Oval. The Dogs have commenced their season with strong wins against Geelong and Dandenong, whilst the Swans upset reigning premiers Prahran and were competitive against Melbourne last week. The key match-up in this game will be the Dogs’ experienced batters against the Swans’ new array of spin bowlers, with the winner of this game likely to be based off this battle. On paper, this should be a good game between two clubs but gut feel suggests that the Dogs will look to keep their unbeaten start going.
In Women’s Premier Cricket, last weekend saw a strong day’s performance for the batters across most matches, with 5 of the 8 teams reaching scores of 200+ for their innings and one game seeing over 500 runs combined for the match.
The surprise of the round was the batting collapse by Box Hill in their game against Melbourne, with a batting card missing Anna Lanning and Bec Carter simply were outmuscled by Melbourne, whilst there was a tight battle for the Redderz Cup with EMP taking the trophy with a 4-wicket win over Dandenong. Ringwood took care of Plenty Valley in their match, whilst Carlton took the points over Prahran in a match that saw 11 wickets fall for 505 runs across 100 overs.
In terms of individual performances, it was not a great day to be a bowler in a couple of matches with 3 centuries and 5 half centuries scores across the grade. Standouts with the bat included Melbourne duo Amy Vine (116*) and Steph Townsend (106 – maiden century) and Carlton’s Sophie Reid (110 – maiden century). With the ball, the leader of the pack was Ringwood skipper Bhavi Devchand (4/31), whilst Melbourne’s Hasrat Gill (3/15), Ringwood’s Erin Carroll (3/19) and EMP’s Chloe Rafferty (3/39) also bowled well.
Round 4’s matches will see a couple of key match-ups to see where each club’s performances are tracking in the lead-up towards the Christmas holidays and before the State players are involved with the WNCL from the 16th December.
Box Hill (5th) host EMP (6th) at the Box Hill City Oval. The Mustangs will be smarting from their performance last weekend against Melbourne and will be keen to get revenge against an old foe, whilst the Bombers will be happy to have ‘Redderz’ back in their possession but will be keen to get some momentum into their season. Box Hill need to find some form with the bat from their top order as they have had a batting collapse and a small run chase in their two games so far, so there are some question marks out in this area. On paper, the match might be closer than expected but gut feel suggests the Bombers have the early form and should take the points out on the road.
Prahran (8th) host Plenty Valley (7th) at Toorak Park. Both of these sides have had tough goings in their first two rounds, with the True Blues being dominated by Box Hill before a much stronger showing with the bat against Carlton but question marks are currently showing over their bowling attack. The Bats meanwhile were soundly defeated by reigning premiers Dandenong and Ringwood but have shown they are prepared to work hard for results and are prepared to give their younger players a go. On paper, this match in theory could go either way but if the True Blues happen to get their State reps back then the advantage will go with the True Blues in this encounter.
Ringwood (3rd) host Carlton (2nd) at Russell Lucas Oval. The Rams will be keen to have a look at their comrades in the Blues after their first two rounds and see where each side is positioned in their development. The Rams were competitive against Melbourne before accounting for Plenty Valley, whilst the Blues have defeated EMP and Prahran in their two encounters so far. On paper, I see this game as a battle of the two top orders – Devchand, Henry and Raymond-Hoey against Reid, Green and Hansika. In terms of the depths of the bowling attacks, I feel that the Rams may just have a couple of more options at their disposal and this may see them end the Blues run in a tight one.
Finally, the likely ‘Match of the Day’ sees Dandenong (4th) host Melbourne (1st) at Shepley Oval, with the Panthers using the day to unfurl their 2020/21 Women’s 1st XI Premiership Pennant. The Panthers accounted for Plenty Valley before losing a tight tussle with foes EMP last week and will be keen to rebound against the Demons who have taken wins against Ringwood and Box Hill so far. If the state representatives happen to take the field then this game has the potential to go either way as both sides will be just about on level ability. However, the gut feel suggests the Demons may just spoil the Panthers’ celebrations just like Casey-South Melbourne did to Prahran in the Men’s grade.
Congratulations go to the following members within Premier Cricket for recent and achieved milestones:
MEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 4 – SATURDAY 4 DECEMBER (11:00am Start)
PRAHRAN V CAMBERWELL MAGPIES at Toorak Park
Umpires A Ali & G Azzopardi
FRANKSTON PENINSULA V DANDENONG at J Coburn Oval
Umpires G Bawa & R Hubbard
GEELONG V RICHMOND at Geelong Cricket Ground
Umpires B Davies & M Nolan
NORTHCOTE V FITZROY DONCASTER at Bill Lawry Oval
Umpires C James & B Sheahan
RINGWOOD V CARLTON at Russell Lucas Oval
Umpires S Olufson & M Wood
MELBOURNE V ST KILDA at Albert Ground
Umpires C Grant & M Muthugounder
GREENVALE KANGAROOS V MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY at Greenvale Reserve #1
Umpires M van Eck & M Robertson
KINGSTON HAWTHORN V ESSENDON at Walter Galt Reserve
Umpires D Ireland & L McCabe
FOOTSCRAY V CASEY-SOUTH MELBOURNE at Mervyn G Hughes Oval
Umpires M Malmberg & J Wyatt
WOMEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 4 – SUNDAY 5 DECEMBER (11:00am Start)
BOX HILL V ESSENDON MARIBYRNONG PARK at Box Hill City Oval
Umpires S Pitts & M Wood
PRAHRAN V PLENTY VALLEY at Toorak Park
Umpires D Brigham & L McKay
Umpires S Fishley & J Leonard-Scott
DANDENONG V MELBOURNE at Shepley Oval
Umpires L McCabe & A Medina