By Tyler Lewis
AROUND THE GROUNDS
VICTORIAN PREMIER CRICKET
A culmination of class, tactical brilliance and grunt handed Dandenong its first win of the Victorian Premier Cricket season on Saturday.
After a strong finish with the ball in round 1, Brett Forsyth sent Footscray in and straight away the changes to the approach with the ball were noticeable.
Suraj Randiv took the second over of the match and was immediately on the money, having Dogs superstar Dean Russ searching for bat on ball and not finding it from the spinners early line and length.
Having some trouble from the tweakers’ tight bowling, Russ found a way at the other end against Jakeb Thomas, dancing down the wicket to the quick and slapping him through and over cover in sensational fashion.
But Thomas continued to toil away on a challenging length and was rewarded with the scalp of the other opener Daniel Sartori.
When the first wicket fell and Travis Dean met Russ in the middle, a moment of balance in the match as the pair had been so difficult to remove.
But it was Peter Cassidy’s endless stump to stump bowling that forced a false stroke out of Russ and claimed the big wicket before he could reach 50.
With only a singular run added following the big wicket of Russ, Ed Newman and James Nanopoulos combined after a mix up between the wickets to remove Dean for less than 10.
Footscray skipper Dylan Kight and patient left-hander Matt Underwood steadied the ship in the middle overs but pleasingly for the Panthers were doing so without adding much scoreboard pressure.
When Randiv came back on to combine with Akshat Buch, Randiv broke the 51-run partnership by sending Kight back to the sheds for 28.
In his following over he removed James Muirhead to get the Panthers assertively on top of the innings.
Underwood begun to accelerate once he closed in on his half-century and burst away following the milestone, and combining with Hamish Winter-Irving, the Dogs wrestled back some momentum.
A late onslaught by Winter-Irving (28 not out from 15 balls) had the Dogs set 8/200 on what loomed to be a true wicket.
With four runs per over needed, Brett Forsyth wasted no time to get the first overs required runs when he effortlessly caressed the first ball of the innings through the offside to the fence.
The elegant opener then powerfully pushed another boundary through the offside before his briefly entertaining innings was brought to a close on 14.
Ed Newman shortly followed his opening partner in the pavilion placing the Panthers in some early trouble.
At 2/21, Comrey Edgeworth and Lincoln Edwards faced a monstrous climb to avoid a winless start to the season after two rounds.
Steaming the bleeding at the beginning of their respective innings, it didn’t take long before the grace and supremacy shun through.
Dylan Kight turned to his frontline spinner in ex-Australian James Muirhead, and Edgeworth welcomed him to the attack by sending him to the fence first ball and the pair combined to take his first over for 10 runs.
After scoring at a blistering rate off his bowling, the pair hit Muirhead from the attack with the figures 0/29 from three overs.
But to add to the theatre of the match, Edgeworth fell just after his milestone and short of the target, which brought Nanopoulos to the crease.
He nudged the ball around and played a wonderful role to the set Edwards before he fell just 24 short of the target.
Cam Forsyth removed all glimmers of a collapse by knocking the ball around and finishing the job that was set up earlier by a superb 54 from Edgeworth and an unbeaten 79 from Edwards.
At 4/190, Forsyth took the weight off the shoulders of Edwards by hitting the last 10 runs to secure the Panthers victory.
Skipper Brett Forsyth was pleased with the performances of Edgeworth and Edwards for their temperament and poise to resurrect the innings.
“LJ was phenomenal,” he said.
“(Being) 2/21 was not ideal but I was fairly confident in the middle order we have, I was confident but I was relieved once LJ and Comrey started getting into a comfortable position.”
After a stunning bowling performance last week, Suraj Randiv took the new ball while his spinning counterpart Akshat Buch held the run rate at bay during the middle overs, an approach with the ball that Forsyth’s Panthers will access each week depending on the wicket.
“We kind of knew going into the season it is something we might employ,” he said.
“We thought about taking wickets in the first 15 and Jakeb Thomas bowled well, getting the breakthrough of Sartori and Randiv at the end beat the bat of Russ a few times and Russ was in sublime form.
“It just showed that Randiv up front was a really good option and whether or not we do it every week it will be based on the conditions to see what will help us get wickets.”
Down at the Geelong Cricket Ground, Casey-South Melbourne managed to bounce back from last week’s disappointing season opener with a gallant loss to the Cats in a run-soaked affair.
On a deck conducive to high-scores – particularly in one-day cricket – the Cats as anticipated elected to bat after skipper Eamonn Vines flipped the coin correctly.
Spearhead Nathan Lambden (2/52) was able to snare the early wicket of the dangerous Mitchell Reid (13), but the Cats were looking ominous, with Tim Ludeman (63) and Vines (85) looking at ease as the Swans toiled away to take their second wicket.
Skipper Nathan Freitag was able to get the ball rolling with the run out of Ludeman, but the Cats kept on finding the boundaries at an alarming rate, with Vines and Josh McDonald (72 off 60 balls) going absolutely bananas to lift the score well beyond 200 and with 300-plus well and truly on the cards.
But the Swans dug deep, with seamer Josh Dowling (3/47) setting the tone with a cracking middle-overs spell, helping rummage through the Cats’ middle order and dismiss them with three balls to spare for a gettable 284, with left-arm quick James Maxwell (3/38) skittling the tail in the final over with two wickets.
Positivity was always going to be the key for the Swans with the bat after being bundled out for just 45 in the season-opener at home.
And they did just that, with openers Dev Pollock and debutant Aaron Fernando in a positive mood with the blade.
Finding the boundaries when needed, and rotating the strike, the pair notched up 98 runs for the first wicket in the opening 20 overs, before a double-strike from Joel Blain (2/48) removed Fernando for a promising 36 and Pollock for 55.
The aggressive Joel Mitchell (45) and skipper Freitag (36) continued to show intent in a strong partnership of 61, but with the run-rate climbing, the Swans couldn’t quite keep up and wickets tumbled, eventually falling short on 8/255, with Dylan Hadfield providing some late fireworks with 41 not out off 28 balls.
At 0-2, the Swans are desperate for some reinforcements, and it is set to come this weekend, with skipper Luke Wells finally cleared to come back to Australia and be available for the double-headers on Saturday and Sunday against Essendon and Dandenong, opener Ryan Quirk is available after missing with a family wedding, while gun batsman Lachie Sperling is at least another week away with a hamstring strain.
MPCA – PENINSULA DIVISION
Pearcedale suffered its second-straight heavy defeat when it went down to Somerville at home on Saturday.
The Panthers were sent into the field, where the Eagles blitzed their way to 8/224 off 40 overs, with James Tierney top-scoring with an aggressive 48 in the middle-order.
Despite conceding a heavy score, Mitch Andrew did well for the Panthers with 4/31.
In reply, the Panthers simply couldn’t get going, restricted to 8/90, with recruit Pat Beckham leading the way with an unbeaten 29.
WOMEN’S PREMIER CRICKET
ROUNDS 3 AND 4
Dandenong suffered back-to-back defeats to a powerful Prahran outfit on the weekend in the double header T20 matches.
In the opening match, the Panthers won the toss and elected to bat, unable to get a strong partnership together, Dandenong set 7/104 from its 20 overs.
Prahran flexed its muscles in the run chase, not losing a wicket and chasing the target in nine overs.
In the second match the Panthers performed much better against a quality opposition but were unable to halt Prahran’s momentum.
Setting with the bat again, a well-rounded team performance had Dandenong set 9/117.
Courtney Neale claimed the first wicket to put the Blues on the back foot at 1/1 but it was smooth sailing for the Prahran side from then cruising to a nine wicket victory in the second match.