TDCA 2021/22 season outlook

Huge coup: Keenan Hughes has returned to Toongabbie for this season. file photograph


THE TDCA regular season begins this weekend.
All clubs are incredibly eager to get stuck into cricket after a long break due to COVID restrictions.
With all matches in the TDCA this season to be one-day games, it will present a unique but by no means unfamiliar challenge to teams.
Here is how sides across the TDCA are shaping up for 2021/22, and which ones are tipped to be the teams to beat, as well as those to watch out for.
Last season: A Grade premiers, B Grade third, C Grade seventh.
THE reigning premier peaked at the right time last season after finishing third on the ladder after the regular season.
The Magpies had a bit of an inconsistent 2020/21 but their finals campaign was absolutely dominant as they smashed Gormandale in the semi-final and then convincingly beat Ex Students for the premiership.
Nathan Freitag was amazing for his new club last season and as his bowling output increased throughout the year the dynamic of Glengarry shifted and they proved they have every facet of the game covered for sustained success.
The Magpies have added to their list this season as well luring Nick Grainger back to cricket after not playing last season.
Grainger hails from Sale-Maffra powerhouse Collegians and likes to get on with it when he bats which will allow the regulars in the top order for Glengarry like Alistair Jenkin and the Marks brothers, Frank and Sam, to take their time to build an innings knowing that Ben Marks and Grainger will be able to close off the innings in electrifying style.
The lack of a second spin bowler may be a concern in the one day format for the Magpies, as Jenkin may need some support in that regard.
Will Sam Marks be thrown the ball at all again this season or will they settle upon the very good fast bowling brigade and use Jenkin as their only spinner? Time will tell.
As far as the club goes Glengarry’s B Grade are always thereabouts come finals time and hopefully their C Grade team can notch up a win this season after not winning a match since their C Grade premiership victory back in 2018/19.
ONE TO WATCH: While there will be a lot of interest around Nick Grainger, the one day matches change the dynamic of the season so much not just for teams and their plans but for individual players as well. Someone like a Paul Henry may just suit playing one dayers each week and considering Henry has the ability to finesse and get off strike when there’s hitters going at the other end and then elevate his own scoring when required he could potentially make the number seven position his for the season, making 20-30 not out each week.
PREDICTION: Glengarry has the shot at a dynasty here, the core group of players have great experience but are still all fit and athletic with plenty of more cricket left in them so watch out as the Magpies could just eye off the next few flags. It won’t be an easy season though and although Ex Students have been tipped as the favourite leading into the season the reigning premiers are not far behind them on the tote and if a prediction was going to be made it would have to be Ex Students will take on Glengarry in the 2021/22 grand final with the winner being anyone’s guess.
Ex Students
Last season: A Grade runner-up, B Grade runner-up, C Grade runner-up.
THE juggernaut that is the Ex Students Cricket Club comes into the 2021/22 season in unfamiliar territory after not taking out a premiership in any grade for the first time in nine years.
With this in mind, the entire club will be motivated to make sure they give themselves a great chance to take home some silverware again this season.
So far the Sharks haven’t added anyone new to their A Grade and have lost the reigning TDCA Player of the Year Jordan Gilmore to Victorian Premier Cricket club Casey/South Melbourne which will be a big loss for not just Ex Students, but for the TDCA as a whole.
Gilmore’s departure does have a silver lining though as it means the likes of Rick Battista, Matt Robertson and Mitch ‘the lumberjack’ Harris will get more opportunity to bat up the order and show their class more often.
As a bowling unit Ex Students are the full package and can apply pressure in any format so the one day fixtures won’t worry the Sharks this season at all as they boast the best spinning trio in the TDCA and quicks who can intimidate while keeping the economy rate down as well.
ONE TO WATCH: Jackson McMahon will be relishing the fact that this season is all one day games as he is the Sharks opening batsman in limited overs. This will give the star left-hander plenty of time to do what he does best and compile big scores each week and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was in the top five runscorers for the season again.
PREDICTION: This club is the envy of Gippsland and they continue to go from strength to strength on and off the field. Ex Students will no doubt feature in the finals of all three grades again this season and will start as favourites for the flag in each grade as well due to their ability to score rapidly and the fact their depth is the best in the TDCA.
Last season: A Grade third, B Grade seventh, C Grade sixth.
GORMANDALE look to have maintained their list from last season which is good for the club after they finished second during the regular season and also played off in the one day grand final in 2020/21 as well.
Yohan Soyza departs the club to head home to Sri Lanka but has been replaced with leg spinning wicket taker Nat Campbell and although you couldn’t get two bowlers who bowl completely opposite to each other, Campbell’s wickettaking ability will be a big asset for the Tigers and will replace Soyza nicely.
Top order bat Matthew Hibbs is coming off a great season but needs support with the second highest run scorer (Soyza) departing. This will give the likes of James Jacobsen, Dylan Freitag and Chris Lehner the chance to get those big scores they are capable of and if Hibbs can replicate the season he had in 2020/21 then the Tigers are looking pretty good across the board.
Gormandale has put a lot of effort into their lower grades as well in the off season and have been able to recruit some youth to the club. It would be great for the Tigers to get some lower grade success again and expose some of their younger players to finals before they make that next leap into the A Grade team.
ONE TO WATCH: Dylan Freitag had a good season in 2020/21 without getting that big bag of wickets in an innings which can set a player up for a season. After his blistering spell in the Gippsland Cricket League final earlier this year it would be good reward for effort to see Freitag double his return last season of 19 wickets and 134 runs.
PREDICTION: Gormandale should be in the mix again for finals. They will have to compete fiercely with the likes of Yarram and District, Rovers and Toongabbie for third or fourth spot on the ladder but on last season’s form they should just edge out those mentioned and feature in the finals again. Gormandale have the ability and the firepower to beat any team in the TDCA but they also have the ability to lose and lose badly to any team in the competition so if they can remain consistent they should have a good campaign.
Last season: A Grade fourth, B Grade fourth, C Grade third.
ROVERS are coming off a season where all grades featured in the finals which was the first time Rovers had achieved that feat for a very long time.
Although they held their own against Ex Students in the A Grade semi-final they were still out of their depth a bit, but are showing genuine promise as a team who is not that far away.
Rovers are now the club who hold the longest active premiership drought across all grades, having not earnt any silverware since 1994/95.
But with the club now having good depth throughout each grade maybe this season will be the year to add to the trophy cabinet.
Enlisting the help of TDCA icon Col Scammell as coach has been great for the club so far as he brings some tough, old school attitude to the young Rovers team and no doubt he will be drilling into the playing group a strong attitude and teaching them how to play with a competitive and fierce edge.
Losing Mitch Floyd will be a big loss for Rovers as he gave the young team some experience and also some good pace with the ball, acting as Rovers enforcer, but the likes of Jack Lynch, Ewan Williams and Kayleb Pearce should now be able to take up his role with another season under their belt and be the quicks who can provide great support to the likes of Justin Little and Simon Duff.
ONE TO WATCH: Tyron Bramwell is someone who is still incredibly young but has been around for a while, long enough to forget just how young he is. Last season he batted in the top order in the Under 18 Gippsland Cricket League team against young bowlers who already have big reputations in other competitions as good new ball bowlers and not only did he handle the pressure he excelled and notched up some good scores. With that in mind there is no reason why the left hander can’t bat in Rovers top order this season and elevate his game to the next level.
PREDICTION: One day cricket matches will suit Rovers who are young, fit and full of energy.
The limited overs format should encourage the team to play their shots as they were guilty of getting bogged down last season against good bowling so this could be the best possible development for a team on the rise. They have the capabilities of finishing fourth this year but things would need to go right for them and without Floyd it may be just out of reach.
Yarram and District
Last season: A Grade fifth, B Grade premiers, C Grade third.
THE Pelicans hit the ground running in their inaugural TDCA season, featuring in two out of three grades finals series and being right in the mix for A Grade up to the last few rounds.
Anthony Scott returns as captain for the new club and with Dylan Rash, Jack Moore and a few others being able to commit to more A Grade matches Yarram may ruffle a few feathers in the 2021/22 season. The Pelicans already look as if a strong culture is being formed and a B Grade flag will have done wonders for the club, and now with turf being installed at the Yarram Recreation Reserve, hopefully A Grade matches will be able to be featured in this seasons fixture as the toll of travelling each week in 2020/21 did impact their season.
ONE TO WATCH: ‘The Quigs Club’ has fast become a part of the TDCA that nobody wants to become a member of yet everyone enjoys when a new member is inducted. For this reason Damien Quigley is certainly one to keep an eye out for as he is quite a character, is never short of a word and already has a list of players he’s targeting this season to join his list which is growing quicker than Chris Jericho’s. One day matches will suit Quigley perfectly and similar to players mentioned before, Quigley could make the middle/lower order finisher position his own for this season.
PREDICTION: There has been some serious fence sitting in some of these predictions, but Yarram and District look set to improve on last season and will feature in finals. Playing away from home until their turf is ready may be an issue again but if they can win some games early and get on their home deck by the end of the year they have a massive opportunity to lock down third or fourth position and shake up the TDCA.
Last season: A Grade sixth, B Grade fifth, C Grade fifth.
THE only club to not have a team feature in finals in any grade last season, the Rams got busy and managed to secure Keenan Hughes as captain/coach after a stint in Central Australia.
Hughes has a big reputation in Gippsland cricketing circles because wherever he goes success seems to follow.
Some of the players from last season’s A Grade team have also been motivated as they look to push for finals once more.
From all reports Matt Whitechurch has got himself very fit and Kev Stoddart is hitting the ball as crisp as ever so watch out for some rejuvenated players in green this season.
Toongabbie has some good young players coming through at the moment as well but may still be a bit too young to feature in A Grade all that often, so bolstered B and C Grade teams should enjoy some youthful enthusiasm which could see a rise in their lower grades as well in 2021/22.
ONE TO WATCH: There is two to watch from Toongabbie this season in the forms of Matt Barry and Zac Russell. Barry had a full year of A Grade last season and held his own at that level although he didn’t get the wickets he would have liked.
It shouldn’t matter though as his abilities still shone through and now that he will be use to the standard he should have a big season. Russell burst onto the scene a few years ago but as a lot of young players do had a season where he just troughed a little after a big 2019/20. The opening batsman should now be back to form and could be a huge part of the Rams rise back up the ladder.
PREDICTION: Another team who has the ability to beat any other in the TDCA, but also lose to any team as well. The Rams could be anything this season and with Hughes back they could easily feature in March
action once more.
Last season: A Grade seventh, B Grade sixth, C Grade premiers.
THE off season could have been better for Imperials as they have lost quite a few players from their A Grade team from 2020/21.
Nat Campbell has gone to Gormandale, Zac Tactor has left to Toongabbie, Mitch Bellingham has left the TDCA, Mitch Bulmer has moved away and a few others may not be playing either.
Brett Chapman is scheduled to move away halfway through the season as well and his availability may be limited which would be disappointing if he couldn’t play some matches to give his club a fond farewell.
Through adversity though comes opportunity and although it might not look great on paper it means that some players now get a chance to prove themselves.
Joel Randall should now get his chance to show how good he can be with the bat, David Pryde will get a really good run at batting in A Grade and young players like Josh Twite and Ryan Bosch will get an opportunity with the ball which can set them up for the years to come.
ONE TO WATCH: Dean Jones finished last season as Imperials fourth highest run scorer after doing his apprenticeship in B Grade for a little bit longer than what should have been. Jones got his first A Grade half century and now with a full season of batting in A Grade should be primed to take his game to the next level and look to be making upwards of 250 runs a season.
PREDICTION: Imperials won’t feature in finals this season in A Grade, but their lower grades are always more than competitive so some success should be able to be achieved. Coach Lee Farley will be on a mission to identify talent and set up the club for the next few years and if Imperials can get creative and Chapman makes some sacrifices for a club that has given him a lot they can still win a couple games and have an impact on the season in all grades.