By Nick Creely
AROUND THE GROUNDS
VICTORIAN PREMIER CRICKET
The new look Casey-South Melbourne – featuring four debutants – had an edge about them in Saturday’s comfortable win over Frankston Peninsula at Casey Fields.
They resembled the 2016/17 version of themselves, a well-drilled side that has plenty of strings to their bow.
Frankston openers Tom Ewing and Tom Wood started steadily enough after a terrific opening spell by Nathan Lambden and debutant James Maxwell, and managed to squeeze out 40 runs in the opening 11 overs.
One of the Swans’ other new recruits – seamer Josh Dowling (2/43) – got the ball talking and forced Ewing into a false stroke, with keeper Devin Pollock moving brilliantly, low to his left, to take a ripping catch.
Wood and Liam Tonkin (56) built a platform to launch a massive total from, and combined for 86 runs between them, but the Swans were well placed in the field and more importantly, bowled tight lengths and often cramped up the pair, not letting them free their arms at any stage.
After being dropped at mid-wicket for 33, Tonkin eventually gave his wicket up to Dowling, with skipper Lachie Sperling taking a catch to leave the visitors 2/126.
Sperling, in particular was outstanding, finishing with 2/33 off his 10 overs, and was hard to play with his varieties and field placements.
Late spells by Lambden (3/36) – who bowled with venom and energy – and Maxwell (0/35) were particularly damaging, with the Heat unable to put the pair away in the final 30 minutes of the innings.
In an entertaining final over, Lambden picked up two wickets in three balls and saw his last ball edged through third man for four, with the visitors having to settle for 7/203.
A dynamic 107 run stand by skipper Lachie Sperling (69) and the dangerous Jordan Wyatt (55) set up a comfortable win, with the Swans chasing down the target with four wickets and 11 balls to spare.
Reigning premiers, Dandenong, meanwhile, took the points in the season opening clash against Ringwood on Saturday at Russell Lucas Oval, with tweaker Akshat Buch standing up when it mattered.
Champion opening pair Tom Donnell (22) and Brett Forsyth (32) scratched away early after being sent in by Rams skipper Ian Holland.
The star pair clocked up yet another 50 run stand, but both were undone by spinner Brendan Walsh, leaving the Panthers 2/68.
A late, and exciting flourish by Lincoln Edwards (68 not out), as well as cameos from the returning James Pattinson (22) and James Nanopoulos (23) lifted the visitors to 5/197 off David King departed early, but Ian Holland and Jackson Freeman built steadily, knocking the ball around to take the shine off the new ball.
Enter Buch (5/26) – an unassuming left arm spinner who has terrific control – who got through the gate of Freeman to break a 45 run partnership, before moments later knocking over Nathan Walsh.
Buch snared another three scalps to ensure his side could hold the Rams to 7/187 at the end of their 50 overs.
MPCA – PROVINCIAL
A swashbuckling ton to Pearcedale new recruit Josh Swainston gave the Panthers the perfect start to the Mornington Peninsula Cricket Association season against Mt Eliza at Emil Masden Reserve.
Swainston – who has starred for Mulgrave Wheelers Hill for a number of years – cracked a sublime 101 in response to the Mounties’ total of 218 – with the Panthers surpassing last year’s runners up with just a ball to spare and three wickets left in the shed.
Former Tooradin champion, Tom Hussey began life at Langwarrin with a bang, meanwhile, compiling an unbeaten 62 as his side chased down Baxter’s 142 just one wicket down.
VICTORIAN SUB-DISTRICT – NORTH/EAST
ROUND 1 (DAY ONE)
Noble Park ran rings around Endeavour Hills on day one of their clash at Syd Pargeter Reserve, racking up 5/259.
A classy 71 to opener Chris Lee gave the Parkers a perfect start, before handy knocks to skipper Luke Wintle (48) and Marasinghe Perera (46) ensured they could make a massive total.
Clayron Landers took 3/64 for the Eagles, while coach Richard Saniga also contributed with 2/282 from his 20 overs.
WOMEN’S PREMIER CRICKET
In Sunday’s opening round of Women’s Premier Cricket, Dandenong were taught a cricketing lesson by Carlton Brunswick at Princes Park.
Winning the toss and batting on a warm Melbourne day, English product Ellie Mason went bersek on her first innings down under, belting a run a ball 103 – an innings that featured 18 boundaries – as her side racked up 8/270 off 50 overs.
Panthers star Courtney Neale (4/33) was a shining light in a tough couple of hours for her side, and if not for her brilliance, the score could have well exceeded 300 or 350.
Early wickets brought about the Panthers’ downfall, falling to 2/17 before a brief fightback from Lucy Cripps (26) and skipper Emma Gallagher (18), but wickets tumbled and they were eventually rolled for 95.