Nearly time to dust off those whites

Freak: Andrew Philip surpassed 10,000 first grade runs during the Lions' outright win against Churchill in Round 5 of Cricket Latrobe Valley. File photograph





TWO-DAYERS are back baby.

The pyjamas and coloured pads will be put away in the Latrobe Valley District Cricket League (unless of course the first day of play is abandoned), as the second half of the season gets underway this Saturday.

White balls will be replaced by red, players will settle in for the long haul, and scorers will be able to present a more ‘complete’ looking scorebook.

Saturday is set to be the first time the LVDCL has had two-day cricket since March 2021. The league played solely one-dayers last season amid COVID uncertainty.

Now that two-dayers are here however, there should be glowing approval from teams and players themselves – for the true test of a cricketer is how well they can play the longer format; and of course, finals are played as two-dayers.

Captains will be charged with more to ponder, as the longer format presents challenges such as time, changing conditions from week to week, whether to bat on into a second week, or if one should indeed go for an outright.

As cricket is replete with truisms, two-dayers should provide an indication to see whether or not this one still rings true: ‘Double your score at tea’.

In the second half of the LVDCL season, the league’s two divisions (Premier A and A Grade) will split, with teams now only playing matches against sides within their grade.

PREMIER A action could see a very big score posted at Ted Summerton Reserve.

Moe is hosting the match against Latrobe, in what is a battle between second and third on the ladder.

Given 250 is generally seen as par at Ted Summerton in one-dayers, one can only imagine what could be on the cards if one team bats the best part of 90 overs.

Truthfully, it would not be too outrageous to suggest we will witness a score close to 500 at Ted Summerton this season.

That being said, it would be dangerous for any batting team to assume runs will come at ease for all of six hours of play, and those at the crease will still need to firstly get through the new ball and then open up from there.

For batsman on either side, it will be a matter of discipline and concentration.

As most batsman in local cricket go out once they get to 30 simply because they are either not physically fit enough or lose concentration after a certain period, players from both sides might be looking to make ‘grind out the session’ their catch-cry.

Moe opener Riley Baldi certainly has the fitness, and Andrew Philip the concentration to bat all day and post a decent score, as do Latrobe counterparts Benn Zomer and Steven Freshwater.

Freshwater showed he was a hard man to dislodge in the last two one-day games before Christmas, scoring 30 off 98 balls and 29 off 128.

While such a strike rate is hardly entertaining, the Sharks could be looking to reference the application as an important attribute to bring to the table.

If Freshwater can bat for twice as long in a two-dayer and stroke-makers like Anthony Bloomfield, Anu Meenakshi and Zomer can bat around him, runs might start to flow with minimal risk.

Just what do you do if you’re a bowler at Ted Summerton in a two-dayer?

It will be like bowling on day one in Rawalpindi.

LADDER-LEADERS Morwell take on Raiders.

Although the ladder says this is a match between top and bottom, there is only two wins separating the combatants.

The Tigers will journey to Yinnar, and look to repeat their performance from earlier in the season.

On that particular occasion, Morwell crushed Raiders by 160 runs.

If they win by a similar margin in a two-dayer, it could be an early finish next week.

Raiders has shown promising signs so far this season, admittedly playing within a transition phase as the team consists mainly of veterans and kids.

Skipper Liam Maynard has done most of the scoring, but with young quick Harry McColl already with 15 wickets to his name, he could be one to lead the attack for the next generation.

Given the circumstances, Morwell could see Raiders as a ‘three out all out’ team, and seamers Brendan Brincat and Travis Pickering will be wanting to make early inroads on a surface that traditionally makes the ball wobble around.

The Tigers should have little to no trouble scurrying through overs, as they have three slow bowlers who could all play as frontline spinners: Mark Cukier, Ross Whelpdale and Greg Harvey.

Not that it is a problem, but possibly the only question for Morwell in a two-dayer is who will be night watchman if they happen to lose a wicket close to the end of play on day one?

Looking at the list, you wouldn’t necessarily say there is anyone who usually comes in down the order who is overly defensively minded.


The two grand finalists from last season have both endured similar journeys in the first half of the season, fielding sides vastly different to the ones that played off in the deciding match.

Missing from the Cobras are key players Ryan Harvey and Brendan Mason, and CATS are without their own star players Ben Julin and Tinashe Panyangara.

While cricket is a team game, their departures, and in Harvey’s case, unavailability through injury, means both teams have had to find overs and runs from sources they didn’t have to consider before.

This has meant a reshuffling of the batting order in both camps to try and find the right mix, which has meant, naturally, results have been up and down.

Cases in point being Churchill defeating premiership fancies Morwell, and then losing to Mirboo North the following week.

Similarly, CATS defeated Latrobe, but were bowled out for 71 against Trafalgar seven days later.

Taking this into consideration, both sides will be looking to get the percentages in their favour to give themselves the best look heading into day two.

The toss might not mean a great deal in terms of forward thinking or giving bowlers an extra week to put their feet up, as most players in the Churchill and CATS line-up are required to be leading lights in both departments.

Cobras captain John Keighran will no doubt need to bowl a lot of overs, and will be looking to make a lot of runs, as will Cal Stewart for CATS.

THE A Grade competition has the makings of a very competitive second half.

Only one win currently separates first from fourth.

For this Saturday however, only one match will feature teams inside the top four.

CENTRALS is at its proper home, and taking on Mirboo North.

The Lions are first on the ladder, set to play the Tigers who are third.

The home side will be out to extend its winning streak to six, but the visitors will take some confidence into the clash.

The reason? Mirboo North was the last team to hand Centrals a loss.

That loss came in Round 5 after a thrilling climax saw the Tigers scrap home by two wickets.

Mirboo North will also be buoyed by its win over Churchill in the last game before Christmas.

Centrals has enjoyed a sharing of the love with the ball of late, with players such as Corey Pollard, Reghard Hefer and captain Tye Hourigan all chipping in.

The Lions also seem to have addressed issues with the bat, especially in the last three games before the break.

Before that, although they were winning, they were still losing wickets in clumps, but now it seems the Lions are approaching batting not as a problem, but as an opportunity.

Their confidence with the bat was no doubt helped by their incredible win against Trafalgar, where they pulled in 47 runs in the last five overs.

After that, the message in the Centrals camp could well have been ‘we can win from any position’.

For Hourigan, who was undone by a blinding one-handed catch from Mirboo North wicket-keeper Dom Davis the last time these two teams met, the contest could be about seeing justice prevail as much as anything.

JEERALANG-BOOLARRA and Trafalgar will meet for the title of Concrete Kings.

The Ships will take a 1-0 lead as they travel up the hill, having already defeated the Panthers this season on an astro surface.

Amazingly, this will be the first time Jeeralang-Boolarra and Trafalgar have met in a two-dayer since the 2019/20 semi-final.

Equally amazing, if also embarrassing, that game was also the last time the Ships won a two-dayer.

Admittedly there has only been four two-day games since, but Trafalgar’s record in the longer format since has been: Draw, draw, lost, and lost outright (also admittedly, trying to force a reverse-outright to make finals).

Although that was two seasons ago, it does present an unknown quantity surrounding just how either side is going to perform when the whites are put on.

While Jeeralang-Boolarra will be disappointed to only have one win to its name so far this season, the Panthers have consistently made scores around the 130-150 mark.

If they can improve on that by 50 or so runs and the likes of Ben Heath and Nila Thillekarathna can get a score, it should put them in a reasonable position.

Trafalgar’s local XI present an interesting case study for two cricket, as you would say most of their batsman are accumulators rather than stroke-makers.

Skipper Aydan Connolly might be bumped up to open, providing the man with the same name but different spelling, Aiden George, to come in at four and get some rest if he does have to keep.

WILLOW GROVE will get its first taste of two-day cricket.

The Wolves are scheduled to play Traralgon West at Yallourn North.

The new kids on the block have battled admirably in their first stint in the top flight, providing honest competition most weeks.

Although they are yet to win a match, Willow Grove has batted most of their overs in one-day games so far this season.

If they can do likewise in the longer format, it will only bode well for their future.

The worst thing that can happen is for them to get outrighted every week and see players drop off one by one.

Pete Grima will be out to provide the guidance necessary to show the youngsters what is required to get through two weeks of cricket, as they continue to learn the ropes.

Traralgon West lost form heading into Christmas, dropping their last two games, and will be keen to start 2023 on a winning note.

Rami Zafar and Rob Wilkie sit inside the top 10 on the LVDCL batting aggregate, and could be eying off a personal best.

The Eagles appeared to adopt an ‘all or nothing’ approach with the bat in one-dayers, so it will be interesting to see if they are able to reign themselves in for the long haul.