THE GAZETTE’S WGCA PREMIER 2018/19 TEAM OF THE YEAR
By sports editor Russell Bennett
From an individual standpoint, Pakenham star Dale Tormey and Kooweerup captain-coach Mark Cooper have had the sorts of seasons that most could only dream of.
They’ve starred with both bat and ball, and they are the standard by which every other player in the competition can be measured.
But, more significantly, they’ve both been the key factors behind why Pakenham and Kooweerup will astonishingly face off in the WGCA Premier grand final for the fourth time in as many seasons.
Tormey has taken the competition by storm in his first year with the Lions, scoring more than 850 home and away runs at a staggering average of around 95.
Cooper, meanwhile, scored in excess of 620 runs at over 62, while also leading the competition in wickets – with 36 scalps at less than 13.
The two men are the breakaway contenders for the Terry Stephenson Medal as the best players in the competition’s top tier.
The fact that Tormey is the only Pakenham player in this team of the year reflects the kind of campaign the ladder-leading Lions have had – with a string of contributions from top to bottom.
The likes of Ben Maroney (451 runs at 37.6), Jason Williams (20 wickets at 25.2 and 199 runs at 22.1), Tom Tyrrell (18 wickets at 25), Rob Elston, Chris Smith (351 runs at 35.1), and Zac Chaplin (305 runs at 33.9) are just some of those strong contributors.
Williams, a renowned batsman in the competition over a long period of time, has made his biggest impact with the ball in 2018/19 and will again be relied upon heavily in the grand final this weekend.
Cooper’s Kooweerup team mates Chris O’Hara and Jess Mathers have also earned selection in this year’s side – O’Hara for the first time since 2016.
His form at the top of the order with Cooper is, again, a key reason for the Demons’ success and he’s produced his best season, statistically, since the 2012/13 campaign – averaging 45.25 to the end of the home and away season, behind only Tormey, Cooper, and Daniel McCalman.
The Cobras’ favourite son, meanwhile, has again been an incredible standout, and is the guiding light that has ensured Merinda Park’s Premier grade survival for at least another season.
His 572 runs at a shade under 48 included telling knocks against finalists Devon Meadows (93 in Round 4), Pakenham (62 in Round 6), and Tooradin (92 in Round 8), and a top score of 111 not out against Upper Beaconsfield in Round 12.
Tooradin all-rounders Russ Lehman and Cal O’Hare were pivotal to their side’s semi-final push, particularly given the off-season loss of champion keeper-batsman Tom Hussey to Langwarrin in the MPCA.
Impressive young Clyde skipper Kiefer Peries earned his selection as keeper-batsman for this year’s Team of the Year in his first season back at Cougarland after his stint in the Victorian Premier system, while team mate and fellow Country Week representative Matt Aslett was particularly unlucky to miss out.
Heading up the bowling crop this time around are Panther Lucas Carroll (32 wickets at just 17.3) and Mathers (28 wickets at 18.6), while Mathew Campbell – McCalman’s Cobras team mate – has also earned his selection, which may surprise some. Campbell, though, finished with 27 wickets to his name at less than 25, with hauls of at least three wickets against all four finalists – Pakenham, Kooweerup, Tooradin, and Devon Meadows – in addition to his 6/51 in a defining performance against the Bulls.
Some of those unlucky not to earn selection this time around were Maroney, Panther Kyle Salerno (461 runs at 35.5), Bull James Giertz (25 wickets at 18.3), Demon Tiron Fernando (22 wickets at 16.6), and Cougar Pat Lawson (22 wickets at 18.3).
THE WGCA PREMIER TEAM OF THE YEAR
- Mark Cooper [Kooweerup] (capt) – 621 runs at 62.1 – HS: 151*, 36 wickets at 12.7 – BB: 6/51
- Chris O’Hara [Kooweerup] – 543 runs at 45.3 – HS: 109
- Dale Tormey [Pakenham] – 852 runs at 94.7 – HS: 177*, 17 wickets at 20.3 – BB: 3/28
- Imesh Jayasekara [Upper Beaconsfield] – 522 runs at 34.8 – HS: 120
- Daniel McCalman [Merinda Park] – 572 runs at 47.7 – HS: 111*, 9 wickets at 25.7 – BB: 3/33
- Russell Lehman [Tooradin] – 485 runs at 48.5 – HS: 133*, 12 wickets at 24.1 – BB: 3/38
- Cal O’Hare [Tooradin] – 410 runs at 41.0, 15 wickets at 17.6 – BB: 2/21
- Kiefer Peries [Clyde] (wk) – 378 runs at 31.5, 29 dismissals
- Lucas Carroll [Devon Meadows] – 32 wickets at 17.3 – BB: 6/58
- Jess Mathers [Kooweerup] – 28 wickets at 18.6 – BB: 6/40
- Mathew Campbell [Merinda Park] – 27 wickets at 24.74 – BB: 6/51
- Matthew Aslett [Clyde] – 25 wickets at 17.6 – BB: 5/27
**Statistics as of the conclusion of Round 14, according to the WGCA.