Daily Reports: National Indoor Cricket titles

July 1, 2018
Category: Indoor Cricket, News,
Daily Reports: National Indoor Cricket titles

Unbeaten Victoria Blue flying high, exert their dominance over competition

13 July 2018

Junior Indoor Cricket National Championships: Semi-finalists determined in each grade, Victoria to feature prominently

By Ahmad Khawaja

It’s semi-finals time at the Junior Indoor Cricket National Championships, with a number of Victorian teams in the mix to go deep into the tournament.

Under-13 Boys:

The Under-13 Boys have continued their good form, with a 148 (4) -13 (0) thrashing of Singapore cementing their place at the top of the standings with seven wins from their eight matches. Caleb Candeppa and Zach Grech continued their fine tournament form, with Candeppa taking 5/-18 and scoring 29 for a +47 game, while Grech took 4/-15 and scored 25 himself to end up with a +40 game. Although there is one round to play tomorrow morning, they are on 44 points, six points ahead of nearest rivals Queensland, and play seventh placed WA in the last round, meaning they are unlikely to relinquish their lead. All going well, they will play the major semi-final tomorrow against the second placed side. NSW Country are two points behind QLD in third place and will expect to get the points against Singapore, whilst QLD have a tougher assignment against ACT. The outcomes of those games will decide second and third, whilst ACT will need points to squeeze ahead of NSW Metro, who have a relatively easier game against SA Black for fourth place and a minor semi-final contest.

Victoria White are currently sitting in eighth place with two wins from their eight matches for 20 points. They lost to NSW Country earlier today, holding them to 90 with the majority of the bowlers making contributions. Despite Isaac Sammut hitting 20 off 11 balls, they could only manage 67 which was enough for one skin.

The major and minor semi-finals will take place at 12.15pm whilst the preliminary final will take place at 5.15pm, for a spot in the grand final.

Final Standings: VIC Blue 44, QLD 38, NSW Ctry 36, ACT 32, NSW Metro 28.5, SA Red 28, WA 25, VIXC White 20, SA Black 18, SG 7.5

Under-14 Girls:

The Victorian side has continued to press their dominance in the Under-14 girls grade, going through the round-robin and classification games unbeaten to go top with nine games on the bounce, sitting on 61 points. They are a massive 26 points ahead of second placed NSW Metro, having claimed a staggering 29 out of 36 available skins.

Since last reported, they claimed heavy wins in excess of over 100 runs against WA (who they reduced to -17), and closest rivals NSW Metro and Queensland. They have scored just over 1,000 runs in their nine matches while conceding just 300 runs in the process. Their dominance is more than reflected in the statistics, with six of the top 10 players in the tournament being Hammers players. Tahlia Meier has been outstanding, with 124 runs in seven games and her tournament high 18 wickets giving her a +20-net game average to lead the statistics. Her teammate Simran Gandhi is fifth on the runs list with 141 and second equal in the wickets with 13, for a net-game average of +16.50, whilst Rhys McKenna has scored 96 runs and taken 7 wickets for a +11.50 net-game average. Ashling O’Farrell and Annecy Homberg have both scored over 100 runs whilst taking eight and nine wickets respectively (+11 net-game averages).

It all adds up to a dominating performance by the Hammers, and the question seems to be who will be able to stop this side, who have been turning it on with both bat and ball. NSW Metro will have the first crack when they play the major semi-final against them tomorrow, whilst SA & QLD will contest the minor semi-final, both at 12.15pm. The preliminary final will take place at 5.15pm.

Final Standings:

Under-15 Boys:

Like their counterparts the Under-14 girls, the Under-15 boys Victoria Blue side is a league of their own, reeling off a superb 10 wins from 10 games to take the top spot in the Under-15 boys grade. They have dominated from start to finish this tournament, and have 72 points to show for it, a huge 20 points ahead of second placed ACT. NSW Country (47) and Queensland (46) claimed the last two semi-final spots.

But it is all one-way traffic in this grade, with no one looking close to beating the two-time defending champions. Since last reported, they beat Victoria White in the Victoria derby by over 100 runs, while tuning up for their major semi-final with 50+ run wins in the classification matches against ACT and QLD earlier today. In the game against Country, Reiley Mark continued his brilliant tournament with a blistering 38 off 13 balls while Sam Wetering hit 26 off 14 balls, as Victoria piled up 124, before Mark struck with the ball as well, taking 3 for 2 to end up with a huge net game average of +36. In their game against ACT, Tahj Johnston got the Hammers going with 34 himself in the opening skin while Wetering continued his fine batting form with 25 in a total of 137, before Declan McComb took 3 wickets as ACT subsided to 85.

Again, the dominance in the statistics, with eight of the top 11 players in net game averages featuring players from the Blue team. Mark’s 128 runs and 11 wickets in six games has him sitting at an impressive net game average of +18. Wetering’s 172 runs with the bat has him sitting first-equal for runs, while his seven wickets give him a current net game average of +16 for second on his list. Also featuring prominently are Saksham Kapoor, Raheel Bostan, Ainghan Athiththan, Declan McComb, Jai Lemire and Joshua Sugden, with net game averages all above +9. With all the other players making their contributions, this has been a complete team performance so far, and based on the evidence presented to date, it is going to be very hard to stop this juggernaut.

Victoria White ended their tournament with a close 92-86 loss to WA, where they attained two skins. Callum Hankin (17) and Luke Vorbach (22) batted very well for their third pair of 39, which led the Whites to a competitive total. The Hammers were right in the game until very deep, having WA in trouble with 60 on the board after three pairs. However, WA was just able to get away in the end, not losing any wickets to get home in the last over. It would have been a total that coach Michael Johnston would have been comfortable with, having earlier remarked that the team’s strength lied in their bowling and backed their ability to defend 85+ scores. The team’s batting had been their weaker suit during the tournament, however the team did battle for their seven skins.

Victoria Blue will play NSW ACT in the major semi-final, whilst ACT faces QLD, both at 10.15am. The preliminary final will be at 2.15pm.

Final Standings:VIC Blue 72, ACT 52, NSW Ctry 47, QLD 46, SA 34, NSW Metro 31, WA 14, VIC White 9

Under-17 Boys:

After a slow start which saw them record one win from their first three games, the Victoria Blue boys have gone on to reel off five wins on the bounce to finish the round—robin in second place with some real momentum and a match-up with Queensland in the major semi-final tomorrow.

And although Queensland are unbeaten and are one-up from their win against the Hammers on Monday, the Victorian side are bringing some confidence into their semi-final. They look a different team from earlier in the week, hitting their straps at the right time, as shown in their 102-94 win over South Australia earlier today. Victoria chased down a steep total of 94 with an excellent team batting display; the first three pairs setting it up for Daniel Van Hees (19) and Jake Fraser-McGurk (17) to share in a partnership of 36 with the pressure of 28 to win in the last skin. Earlier on Dev Jhamb took 2/-2, while Kevin Seth, Jonathan D’Rozario and Van Hees all bowled miserly spells. D’Rozario in particular has had a good all-round tournament to date with his 117 runs and 8 wickets giving him a net-game average of +11. Seth has been menacing with the ball, his eight for 15 coming across 12 overs, at an incredible RPO of 1.20. Van Hees has also been solid with bat and ball, scoring 105 runs and taking 8 wickets, whilst Australian Under-16 outdoor representative McGurk has been prolific with the bat; third on the runs list with 137.

Victoria White managed one win in their eight games, a hammering of Singapore earlier on. It was enough to get them to eighth spot in nine games, it what has been a competitive grade. Whilst they lost heavily to South Australia today (144-45), they pushed third placed NSW Country all the way yesterday in a close 100-92 defeat, where they picked up two skins. Nick Ritchie made 21 and James Smith 18 to give them a good start in a steep chase, where the bowlers had all made contributions but ultimately, they fell just short.

QLD play Victoria Blue in the major semi-final whilst NSW Country battle SA in the minor semi-final at 12.15pm. The preliminary final will take place at 7.15pm.

Final Standings: QLD 53, VIC Blue 41, NSW Ctry 38, SA 37, NSW Metro 28, ACT 23.5, WA 21.5, VIC White 9, SG 1

Under-17 Girls:

Victoria Blue scored two big wins in the last two rounds of the grade today, their earlier win in the Victoria derby against Victoria White then setting up a last round shoot-out against NSW Country which they won by 98-64, claiming a vital three skins and edging out their rivals for the fourth semi-final spot, by 35 to 33.5 points. In the must-win clash for Sue Rose’s side, Country got off to a great start, making 40 in the first skin, before Victoria blew them away, taking 10 wickets in the next three pairs. Hailey Ferris claimed 3/-8, whilst Becky Petty and Alanah Misson both took two apiece. The chase ended up being a comfortable one, with Katia Jomini and Kayla Stuchbree setting it up at the top, before contributions through the middle made it easy for Ferris and Brylee Barker (32) to finish the chase. Earlier in the day, Alyssa Humphries hammered two sevens on her way to 36 off 13 balls while Petty made 22 in a pair of 58, as the Blues piled up 132, in response to the White’s 62. One pair finished as a dead heat.

The Whites finished their tournament in seventh spot in two points, but never gave it up at any point, as shown when they claimed one point out of their loss in their last game to ACT. Madison Heitlinger claimed two with the ball, before captain Natalia Taylor scored 18 in a skin of 15 to claim the Whites a deserved one point (refer to the Whites re-cap) in their 113-65 defeat.

The unbeaten Queensland side are the certainly to beat again in this grade, and they will play NSW Metro in the major semi-final, whilst Victoria Blue must beat SA in their minor semi-final at 2.15pm with the preliminary final to follow at 7.15pm.

Final Standings: QLD 62, NSW Metro 47.5, SA 36, VIC Blue 35, NSW Ctry 33.5, ACT 24, VIC White 2

Under-13s Boys: Victoria Blue in top spot heading towards semi-finals

12 July 2018

With two rounds remaining in the Under-13 boys grade at the Junior Indoor Cricket National Championships, it is the Victoria Blue side who are looking impressive, leading proceedings after seven rounds. The Hammers have looked in great form on their way to six wins from seven games so far, their 37 points being six points ahead from nearest rivals Queensland. Counterparts Victoria White have won two games so far, sitting in seventh spot with 19 points, and eight points adrift from fourth place and a semi-final spot.

The Victoria Blue side will look to sit in pole position for a major semi-final on Friday, with their last two games against the winless Singaporean side tomorrow, and WA on Friday.

The boys took some time to get into the tournament, with a high-scoring close first-up win over Queensland followed by a tight one-run win over Victoria White. It was good to see some competitiveness between both sides, as the Blues just got over the line in the last over in their chase of 78. And while they fell in their only loss to NSW Metro, they have won a further four in a row with wins over NSW Country, SA Red and Black, and ACT earlier today, to cement their place at the top.

Coach Shane Suckling is pleased with the progress so far, in what is turning out to be a very tight competition, with a number of teams still jostling for the other three semi-final spots. “There was a bit of a shaky start, I think some nerves with the boys”, said Suckling. “But they have settled down and are really getting going now. The batting has been great (713 runs in seven games for an average of over 100 per game), especially Zachary (Grech) and Abhisheik (Sundarajan) who are leading the way, but everyone is chipping in”. Grech leads the tournament with 145 runs, whilst Sundarajan is behind him with 126 runs.

The bowling is starting to come along as well, with Grech again leading the way with 13 wickets (for a leading net game average in the statistics of +16.50) whilst Caleb Candeppa has taken nine and Josh Finklestein has collected seven. Suckling believes there is still some improvement, but the boys have adjusted well from the earlier stages, especially with the new nets at the Toowoomba centre. “The nets are so tight and have a lot of spring in them, and the boys are not used to that (with the nets in Victoria generally being holder and therefore the nets have more hold)”, said Suckling. “The ball would really bounce off the net, so the boys have now had a few games and are getting more used to it, waiting for the ball to come to them instead of rushing to the net”.

Victoria White will play NSW Country tomorrow before finishing up against SA Red on Friday morning. Being eight points removed from fourth place, they will need a win in their final two games to give themselves a chance of the semi-finals. Those will take place on Friday afternoon.

Summary Scores – Day 5 (batting team first):

VIC Blue 107 (3) [Grech 26, Quinn 19, Sundararajan 19] def. SA Black 60 (1) [Candappa 1/1, Finklestein 2/3, Cortese 1/4]

VIC Blue 129 (2) [Grech 25, Sundararajan 24, Candappa 20] def. ACT 106 (2) [Grech 3/-3, Smith 1/7, DeMattia 1/11]

Singapore 38 (0) [Raje 3/-7, Gamage 2/-2, Murphy 2/0] lost to VIC White 120 (4) [Bhatia 23, Raje 22, Muntasir 21]

VIC White 53 (0) [O’Connor 24, Sammut 17, Soeradinata 11] lost to QLD 118 (4) [Muntasir 1/9, O’Connor/Imlach 1/12]


Standings after seven rounds: VIC Blue 37, QLD 31, NSW Ctry 30, NSW Metro 27.5, ACT 27, SA Red 26, WA 22, VIC White 19, SA Black 18, SG 7.5

11 July 2018

Under-15s Boys: Unbeaten Victoria Blue flying high, exert their dominance over competition

They came into the tournament looking for a third national title in a row, and with two matches left in the first round-robin stage, Victoria is looking hands down a cut above the rest at the Junior Indoor Cricket National Championships.

In fact, so much has been their dominance at the competition thus far, that after five matches they are not only unbeaten, but have dropped only two skins out of a possible 20. The standard these boys have set so far is incredible and the stats really speak for themselves. Their runs scored sits at 644 which equates to an average score of almost 110 per game, whilst runs against is 247, which is an average of only 50 per game. The team has dispatched the next five teams below them on the competition ladder including closest rivals ACT and Queensland by 50 and 80 runs respectively. The question at this point seems to be who’s going to be a far second.

Manager Chris Reid is in awe of a very hard-working bunch of young boys and is very happy that their efforts are yet again paying off. “They are pretty easy to watch. They’re just a good group of kids and listen to everything told to them. They come to all trainings, even optional sessions and just absorb everything like a sponge” said Reid. “They are perfectionists. Every ball of every match they are searching for something, always full of energy. They challenge themselves to be the best they can be. Simply, they’re a fantastic group”.
Reid, along with coach John Mark, and Assistant Coach and Victorian Open Men’s captain Justin Perkins, form the brains trust of the side. They form an ideal core for the boys to learn from given all have played at Open Men’s level during different stages of their careers.

The boys have batted very confidently so far in their five outings, making almost 100 in every match (97 vs ACT). Reid attributes this to them reacting positively when put under pressure. “They are batting the house down, chasing down scores very well. They are striking the ball well and have little hesitation, and the communication between batting partners have been great. Some people struggle when put under pressure but these boys seem to thrive on it”. With the boys batting so well, it has also allowed Mark to rotate players accordingly, so different combinations can be tried out. Tahj Johnston and Jordan Hesline have formed a solid opening pair, making two 30+ scores together, while vice-captain Reiley Mark and Jai Lemire have hit four scores of 25+ together. Sam Wetering has been effective in the third and fourth pairs, making 100 runs to lead the tournament scoring, having churned out three scores of 20+.

Their own bowling has been just as impressive, having taken 49 wickets in the five games to date, averaging almost 10 wickets per game or a wicket every one and a half overs. All the bowlers have chipped in, with Mark leading the way with eight wickets so far (to go with his 70 runs, he’s averaging a net game of +17). Many spectators, teams and officials have described Victoria Blue’s fielding as first-class, a huge compliment. Jai Lemire, on debut and the team’s specialist keeper, has been very impressive, effecting 14 dismissals himself.

Reid is very pleased, noting the bowlers have been bowling the right lines and have created a lot of chances, but is just looking for the boys to convert more of them. “Sam Wetering has some very good pace, Saksham (Kapoor), a leg-spinner, has been impossible to pick for pretty much all the batsman (as five wickets for five runs off his six overs to date would suggest), and Reiley (Mark) is always looking to develop deliveries that no one can read” said Reid. “The boys just have so much energy and I think sometimes they know that if they take a step back and settle a bit, they will know don’t need to rush. That could be something as quick as just gathering the ball, rather than rushing to grab it”. While they have taken 49 wickets, Reid estimates it has come from 110 possible chances, which equates to a 45% conversion rate. If they convert more of their chances, it’s more than likely we could see more lopsided scorelines.

Victoria Blue play their last two round-robin matches before the grade split against their fellow Victorian White (Development) side, whilst finishing up against Western Australia.

Summary Scores (batting team first):
VIC Blue 123 (4) [Wetering 23, Lemire 19, Hesline 19] def. NSW Ctry 74 (0) [Lemire 3/-5, Mark 2/4]
NSW Metro 38 (0) [Islam 4/-13, Wetering/McComb 1/3, Mark/Athiththan 2/3] lost to VIC Blue 139 (4) [Islam 25, Wetering 23, McComb 23]
VIC Blue 133 (4) [Mark 25, Lemire 23] def. QLD 48 (0) [McComb 2/-3, Kapoor 2/-2]
SA 40 (1) [Athiththan 3/-11, Kapoor 2/-2] lost to VIC Blue 152 (3) [Wetering 28, Kapoor 25]
ACT 47 (1) [Wetering 4/-11, McComb 1/2 lost to VIC Blue 97 (3) [Hesline 21, Johnston 17]

Standings: VIC Blue 33, QLD 21, ACT 21, SA 19, NSW Ctry 18, NSW Metro 13, WA 9, VIC White 6

Under-14s Girls: Victoria looking impressive in unbeaten run

Much like their counterparts in the boys Under-15s grade, the Victoria Under-14 girls are looking very impressive at the Junior Indoor Cricket National Championships, having won all five games to go clear at the top in the Under-14 girls grade with one round remaining tomorrow. The team has been absolutely dominant, only dropping two skins out of a possible 20 to sit on 33 points, a gulf of 16 points between them and nearest rivals Queensland.

And just like the boys, the 14s girls are looking for their third national title in a row. Coach Janet Finn believes this team is their strongest and most talented female group to date, with all of the junior cricketers making their mark in both indoor and outdoor cricket. Further to that, the entire side is playing NICL cricket for the Monash Tigers in the Victoria East league, a high standard of cricket to be exposed to at a relatively young age. Finn credits a great team ethos as well as her excellent support staff, which includes Open Women’s players Adelaide Campion and Elly Donald.

“This year we have 10 Victorian players who are true all-rounders, and no matter which eight players take the court, they get the job done through their outstanding team-work”, said Finn. She continued “My support coaching staff have been outstanding where we have Adelaide Campion (recently named Australian Opens Women’s Player) and Elly Donald (Victoria Spirit and recently named Australian Opens Women’s Player) joining the team on tour as the girls’ mentors / team managers. Shane Hesline together with Tim White (newly appointed Premier Women’s Essendon Head Coach) are our specialist bowling coaches and together with myself have been working hard over the last 6 months to get this group ready for Nationals and defend our title”.

The bowling line-up has some depth to it, including quick bowlers Rhys McKenna (Victoria Country Under-15 representative) and Madeleine White. There are a number of spinners in the mix with Tahlia Meier (Victoria Country Under-15s) and Jaide Anthony (Victoria Country Under-15s representative and captain) joined by young up-and-comer Alexandra Elliott (Victoria Under-13s) and leg-spinner Ashling O’Farrell (Victoria Metro Under-15s). Simran Gandhi and Annecy Homberg bring swing bowling into the equation while they have two left-arm pace bowlers in Erin Carroll and Sonia Khanna.

So far, they have been pretty dominant over all opposition, having scored 565 runs in five matches (an average of 113 per game) and conceding only 216 (an average of 43 per game). They have scored over 100 in all but one of their games so far, with all pairs doing a consistent job of contributing to the team total, as Finn has been testing some of the combinations and positions during round-robin play. Tahlia Meier leads the way with 75 runs, while Simran Ghandhi and Ashling O’Farrell have made 74 each. Finn puts the batting effort down to a positive and confident approach when on the court. “I encourage the girls to attack the ball when batting and work on rotating the strike. It’s still early days but I’m very pleased with their progress to date” said Finn.

The bowling has also been excellent, as they have taken 56 wickets in their five matches, including a staggering 17 in one match against NSW Metro, where they reduced Metro to a miserly 5 runs. Meier again leads the way with nine wickets so far, for a very impressive net game average of +20, which leads the competition. Ghandhi has taken seven (net average +13.50) whilst Khanna and O’Farrell have taken six apiece. The team was pushed in their opening game against NSW Country, where Country scored 90, and the Hammers had five third-ball plays for four wickets all up. With their ability to take wickets, they have gotten better with converting chances as the tournament has progressed.

Their last round-robin game before the grade split is tomorrow against Western Australia.

Summary Scores (batting team first):
NSW Country 90 (1) [O’Farrell 1/4, Carroll 1/7] lost to VIC 118 (3) [White 22, Khanna 20]
VIC 114 (4) [Meier 24, Ghandhi 20] def. VIC Metro 5 (0) [Meier 4/-15, Ghandhi 4/-5]
ACT 19 (0) [Elliott 4/-13, Khanna 2/-4] lost to VIC 112 (4) [Ghandhi 26, Meier 24]
QLD 75 (0) [Meier 2/1, Homberg 1/5] lost to VIC 123 (4) [Ghandhi 20, Homberg/Meier 18]
VIC 98 (3) [Homberg 20, Khanna 15) def. SA 27 (1) [Khanna 4/-12, White 3/-7]

Standings after 5 rounds: VIC 33, QLD 17, NSW Metro 14, NSW Ctry 14, ACT 11, WA 8, SA 8

10 July 2018

Under-17s: Boys and Girls find the going tough early on

Three days have elapsed so far at the Junior Indoor Cricket National Championships so far and the Victorian teams are looking to find momentum early on.

Victoria has two fielded two sides (Blue and White) in each grade. On the boys’ side, defending champions Victoria Blue have won one of their first three games to sit in fifth spot with nine points in the nine-team competition, whilst their counterparts Victoria White are just behind in seventh place with one win from their four games for eight points.

On the girls’ side, last year’s runners-up Victoria Blue have managed one win from their first three games to sit in fifth place with eight points in the eight-team competition, whilst the Whites are yet to record a win after four matches.

Under-17s Boys:

The Victorian Blue team is a strong side which includes Jai Elcock as captain, who backed up with a great batting performance for the Victoria Under-21s at last week’s Senior Nationals, Daniel Van Hees who has been a solid performer for Cranbourne Kings this season in the NICL (fourth on the wicket charts with 12), NICL Monash Tigers players Luke Dinger and Jonathan D’Rozario, and Australian Under-16 outdoor representative Jake Fraser-McGurk.

In their first game against NSW Country, the batting could not get going despite being set up in the first pair by Elcock and D’Rozario (30), with Elcock creaming 23 off his own bat. Eight wickets in the last three pairs could only manage them a score of 62, which was enough for one skin. Their second outing against NSW Metro was much more positive, as they reduced Metro to 27 batting first, which included 10 third-ball plays and 11 wickets. All pairs then chipped in as they plundered 132, taking a four-skin win. Although they lost to unbeaten league leaders Queensland earlier today, there were some encouraging signs in the 12-run loss, having only kept the Thunder to 76 in their innings, and knowing once they have more court time, they can convert more wickets out of their 36 dot-balls.

Their rival teammates, Victoria White had a tough first outing WA saw them concede 127 and four skins, following that up with a 99 to 57 loss to ACT. The batting was not consistent enough whilst the bowling saw them land eight third-ball plays, but only able to convert one of them. The Whites rebounded with a crushing win against a Singaporean side the same day. They put up 159 with the bat, including a belligerent 30 off 11 balls from Lachlan Caron, before reducing Singapore to just 29, each bowler taking a wicket apiece while Mitchell Tielan and James Smith snaffled two in the 10-wicket haul. Earlier today they went down comfortably to NSW Country, with some work to do in the latter rounds.

Tomorrow will see both teams battle each other with bragging rights as well as vital points on the line, before the Whites have a challenging contest against unbeaten league leaders Queensland while the Blues will look to collect further points against Singapore.

Summary Scores (batting team first):

VIC Blue 62 (1) [Elcock 23, Fraser-McGurk 12] lost to NSW Ctry 88 (3) [Van Hees 0/5, Dinger 1/8]

NSW Metro 27 (0) [Seth 2/-1, Elcock 3/-6] lost to VIC Blue 132 (4) [D’Rozario 28, Curtis 23]

QLD 76 (3) [D’Rozario 1/ 2, Van Hees 1/3] def. VIC Blue 64 (1) [Van Hees 16, Trenwith 16]

VIC White 57 (1) [Caron 14, Bowyer 14] lost to ACT 99 (3) [Smith 2/0, Waring 1/4]

VIC White 73 (0) [Wilson 13, Smith 12] lost to WA 127 (4) [Smith 1/7, Caron 2/7]

VIC White 159 (4) [Caron 30, Torkington 22] def. Singapore 29 (0) [Tielan 2/-7, Smith 2/-3]

VIC White 46 (0) [Caron 12, Wilson 8] lost to NSW Ctry 128 (4) [Robertson 1/8, Marshall 1/13]

Standings: NSW 26, SA 13, ACT 13, NSW Ctry 13, VIC Blue 9, WA 9, VIC White 8, NSW Metro 7, SG 0

Under-17 Girls:

Victoria Blues, last year’s runners-up to Queensland, battled the Whites in the opening contest. The Blues recorded a decisive win in their first match, with the Whites being reduced to 31 despite Northcote Pirates’ Sahasni Wanigatunga making 23 off her own bat while 14 wickets tumbled. Croydon Raiders’ Katia Jomini and the Kings’ Brylee Barker both picked up 4 wickets apiece, including five combined off the last two overs of the innings. In response the Blues scored 101 on their way to four skins with Emma Sands (24) and Jomini making 38 in the third pair.

The Whites suffered another heavy defeat to NSW Metro in their second outing, finding the going tough after batting first, with Northcote Pirates player Haleema Shiraz making 15 in a single digit total. They were better with the bat in their defeat to South Australia however, going on to make 91 batting first, Northcote Pirates player Rachel Heenan and Alexandra Cornelius combining for 24, whilst Cranbourne Kings pair Lauren McGrath and Tatiana Selby made 32. It still wasn’t enough as they look to keep down the high scores they have conceded so far and chase their first point.

The Blues were betting in their match against Metro, taking six wickets to keep them to 90, with Jomini and Barker in the wickets again with two apiece. Their batting was good through the middle, with Jomini and Kayla Stuchbree making 27, whilst Under-21s player Alyssa Humphries, backing up from last week’s Nationals and Becky Petty scored 23. It wasn’t enough however to challenge a strong Metro side. Their match today was a struggle against unbeaten table toppers Queensland as they struggle to contain the Thunder the ball, conceding over 140.

Both teams will look for some points tomorrow and particularly more consistency with the ball, as chasing larger totals will always be a tough proposition. The Whites take on Queensland followed by the ACT, while the Blues have ACT first up followed by NSW Country. The grade gets split following the completion of the round on Wednesday.

Summary Scores (batting team first):

VIC White 31 (0) [Wanigatunga 24, Selby 11, Jomini 4/-15, Barker 4/-11] lost to VIC Blue 101 (4) [Sands 24, O’Brien 18, Wanigatunga 3/-4, McGrath 1/5]

VIC White 9 (0) [Shiraz 15, McGrath 10] lost to NSW Metro 153 (4) [Cooper 2/5, Taylor 0/10]

VIC White 91 (0) [Heenan 17, Selby 17, McGrath 15] lost to SA 139 (4) [Heenan 1/6, McGrath 1/12]

VIC White 40 (0) [Shiraz 16, Heenan 14] lost to NSW Country 165 (4) [Cooper 1/15, Cornelius 1/17]

QLD 147 (4) [Humphries 0/11, Barker 0/12] def. VIC Blue 29 (0) [Ferris 15, Barker 12]

NSW Metro 90 (3) [Barker 2/3, Jomini 2/6] def. VIC Blue 74 (1) [Jomini 23, Petty 15]

Standings: QLD 26, NSW Metro 20, SA 19, NSW Ctry 11, VIC Blue 8, ACT 7, VIC White 0


Junior Victorian trio chase history with fifth straight national title

By Ahmad Khawaja

The Junior National Championships commenced over the weekend in Toowoomba and it is a trio of young Victorian boys who are looking to make history this week.

Under-15 Victoria (Blue) team members Tahj Johnston, vice-captain Reiley Mark and captain Jordan Hesline have gone into the tournament with their eyes on a fifth consecutive national title. According to Victorian Indoor Cricket State Junior co-ordinator, Janet Finn, this would be unprecedented in Victorian Indoor history.

“For Victoria we cannot recall there being anyone across any grades, whether that is Masters, Opens or Juniors, that have won in five in a row. That would be an incredible achievement”, said Finn. She continued “we think the previous record was several years ago in the Men’s Over-30s where three players were going after their fifth straight title but fell just short in the grand final”.

Rising up the junior ranks

Their run of titles started back in 2014 when they won the Nationals in the Under-12s grade. They followed this up with back-to-back victories in the Under-13s in 2015 and 2016, before moving up into the Under-15s last year and taking the title with a win over Queensland in the final last year. What’s just as impressive is the boys consistently making the representative sides together and then playing alongside each other as a highly successful unit. All three boys have represented Australia A at the last Junior World Series together with being named in several All-Star teams at the aforementioned Nationals.

Making a splash

The trio are making an impact on the local Victorian scene as well, with all three have had a taste of NICL cricket already. Johnston, a left-hand bat and left-arm medium pace bowler, has played five matches for Cranbourne Kings this season in the Victorian East league, having scored 81 runs and taken 11 wickets, putting him at equal fifth on the wickets list (+5 net average). Mark, a right-hand bat and off-spinner, has turned out for Cricket Southern Bayside on two occasions, whilst Hesline plays alongside him in the same team, having scored 43 runs in his five outings to date. To be playing top-level indoor cricket already at this age is a great achievement in itself and shows the development of the junior programme and the willingness of Victoria to blood younger players.

The Under-15 (Blue) side has already started brilliantly so far this tournament, winning their first three games and dropping no skins (see the re-cap). No doubt they will be a dominant force at the tournament, being the defending champions.

All three players will be looking to impress with their performances yet again this tournament, with Australian teams for the Junior World Cup being named following its conclusion. There is no reason why they cannot push for national honours again.

8 July 2018

Open Women’s: Women come up short in preliminary semi-final

By Ahmad Khawaja

It was heartbreak for the Women’s side, who played a cracking, high-scoring affair in their preliminary semi-final against South Australia, losing by just three runs.

In a game which went down to the very last ball, much like the Men’s semi-final, it came down to the final SA pair requiring 37 to win. While Victoria looked on track mid-way through the partnership, they conceded 24 off the last overs, including 15 in the penultimate over, to come up agonisingly short in the end.

Earlier on, coach Wayne Turner’s charges would have been satisfied with the competitive target of 108 they had set, with any 100+ score proving to be a competitive score, let alone in a knock out semi-final. Laura Shaw and Adelaide Campion continued their good opening form, posting 23 to start proceedings. Nicole Martin and Elly Donald, who hammered 49 in their pair against NSW in the minor semi-final win the night before, were strong again, making 28 despite losing two wickets. Danielle Montague and Zoe Griffiths continued the run with 22, before Briony Polkinghorne continued her impressive tournament alongside Aimee Mellford when the pair smashed 34 in the final skin, including 16 runs in the last over to bring all the momentum with the Hammers. With only five wickets conceded and 22 dot balls, Victoria would have been pleased with their efforts.

They started strongly in the field, with Montague bowling four dots and taking a wicket in the first over, while Donald bowled four of her own in the next. The first pair made 16 and the rest of the team were left needing 92 off 12 overs to get over the line. The next eight overs brought 55 runs however, as Campion took the only two wickets to fall in that period in each of her overs. The Hammers bowled 14 dots in that period, but could not force the pressure on, as some loose deliveries were pushed to the nets, SA making 38 runs in twos. Both teams were able to keep in touching distance of each other, before the last overs started with one big seven and two twos, SA eventually doing enough to seal the win.

It was an agonising result for a team which came to the tournament with hopes of making the final for a fourth year in a row, falling just short when it mattered against a resurgent SA team, who go on to play the imposing Queensland side in the final.

They will take the heart from the efforts of some of their players, as well as the development of the younger players. Briony Polkinghorne could well go to be player of the tournament, with her 172 runs in nine matches and nine wickets for 43 runs off 18 overs at an economy of just over 2.33 runs per over adding up to a fantastic tournament, as well as sitting at the top of the statistics (with an impressive +14 net game average). Newcomer Madeleine Wright made a splash with the ball, taking 11 wickets for 29 runs off her 12 overs, at an economy of just over 2.50 runs (+8 game average), whilst the experienced Laura Shaw had a great all-round tournament, taking 15 wickets to currently top the charts, as well as making 134 runs in her nine games. Elly Donald looks a good prospect for the future as well, especially with the bat where turned out 111 runs in her seven matches.

Summary Scores (batting team first):

VIC 107 (1) [Mellford 19, Campion 17, Donald 17) lost to SA 110 (3) [Montague 1 /4, Campion 2/7, Donald 0/8]

Player of match – Adelaide Campion (+10 game)


Open Men’s: Victoria overcome Queensland in thrilling preliminary semi-final, play ACT in grand final

By Ahmad Khawaja

The Blue and White flags are waving proudly tonight after Victoria conquered a resurgent Queensland in a gripping preliminary semi-final at the Indoor Cricket National Championships. Their one-run win, last-ball finish sealed their place in a grand final for the first time in three years, where they will meet defending champions ACT.

Viewers on the live stream on the Cricket Australia Indoor Facebook page were treated to an enthralling contest, a see-sawing battle where neither side were willing to give an inch, but ultimately saw Victoria prevail. Last pair Jack Craig and Jarrod Burns were set 27 to win the match, and ultimately 12 from the final over from young leg-spinner Matthew Schubert. With 11 needed off four balls, Burns charged down the wicket to on-drive him for five. Craig followed this up with a lovely leg-side down-up for three and Burns then front-foot pulled (down-up) him for two into the side net to bring Victoria up by one run with one ball to go. Craig, who had made 21 off 13 balls to that point, then calmly played out the last delivery to set off rapturous celebrations in the Victorian camp, as they sent Queensland out of their own tournament.

Stirring win for Victoria, great advertisement for Indoor Cricket

Earlier on, the stage was set for one almighty battle in front of a vocal crowd. Each side had claimed one scalp off each other during the round-robin stage, but there was not too much between the teams. Coach Ross Gregory opted to stick with the same side that had beaten WA by 91 (3) – 70 (1) in the minor semi-final last night with Justin Perkins, Kieran Perkins, Trent Lawford, Clive Rose, Jarrod Armitage, Brad Jones, Burns and Craig taking the court.

Queensland batted first and a shaky start with the ball saw them get out of the blocks quickly, first pair Ryan Dowse and Rob Fitzgerald quickly making their way to 34. From the start of the second pair, they brought themselves right back into the match; Armitage taking two wickets off the first two balls of the skin and Rose grabbing one for himself the following over. That only allowed nine for the pair and the score to 43. The next eight overs brought 47 runs and only one wicket, as Rhys Dearness helped the Thunder finish well in making their way to a very competitive 90. The Hammers took four wickets all up and bowled 37 dot balls and will know they couldn’t convert that pressure into wickets and create the chances required.

While the target of 91 was tough, especially in a knock-out semi-final, the Hammers would have taken encouragement from their batting efforts this week, which had been their stronger suit. Queensland’s bowling line-up at this tournament was not as strong as it had been in previous years, having brought up some players from their Under-21s outfit. The Perkins brothers, as they had been most of the week, opened up and again batted strongly, recovering from an early run out to post 25. This included 19 off the last two overs and five twos’ off five balls in an over from Dearness, including four down-up leg-side shots. Lawford and Rose also recovered from a run out early in their first over but had to battle hard for their runs in making 18, with Queensland missing a sure-fire run-out when a mix up occurred. Third pair Armitage and Jones started well, taking 16 in the first two overs, peppering the leg side and included 10 in an over from Australian skipper Lyle Teske, before settling for 21. Burns and Craig then shrugged an early onslaught from the Thunder to set it up for an exciting finish.

Overall, the Hammers will be pleased that they never let the game out of reach despite wickets at key intervals, setting it up for the last pair. The Thunder took five wickets and bowled 27 dot-balls in a pretty disciplined bowling effort, but ultimately a couple of missing chances cost them.

Gregory and Perkins laud “special” effort, look forward to grand final

Coach Ross Gregory was in measured spirits following the win, as he put things in perspective while looking forward to a showdown with ACT.

“It was a great win, I’m very pleased with the determination this group has shown, and yet again, they were outstanding with the bat”, said Gregory. “We weren’t great in the field, not getting the lines right and creating those chances, and not taking them when they came. We will really need to do that when we come up against ACT, if we are to have any chance”, said Gregory. However, the spirit shown by this team is what was most satisfying to the coach. “In times gone by, a Victorian team in a pressure situation like this would have fallen over and capitulated. So, what pleased me the most was the resolve shown by these men to overcome that pressure, to back each other up and give each other a chance. Our batting showed this; each pair played their part and gave the last pair something to chase”, Gregory exclaimed.

And having come up against ACT twice in this tournament for two losses, he will be assessing how to counteract the threat that awaits them. “They are a good side, no doubt about that. But they are beatable. We have to go back and think about how we bowled to them and batted against them in those games, and where we went wrong. If we can turn it around, the pressure of a final could easily get to them. We are definitely looking forward to it”, Gregory noted.

That final will take place at 2.30pm and will be shown on the livestream on the Cricket Australia Indoor Facebook page.

Summary Score (batting team first):

QLD 90 (2) [Armitage 2/-1, Jones 0/10, Rose 1/11, Lawford 0/11] lost to VIC 91 (2) [Craig 21, J Perkins 14, Armitage 13]

Player of the match – Jarrod Armitage (Net +14 game)

7 July 2018

The round-robin stages of the Under-21 grades at the National Championships have concluded and it was mixed fortunes for the Victorian sides. The Under-21 Women finished second in their grade to book a preliminary final match against South Australia, while the Men lost both of their must-win games today to finish their tournament in sixth place.

Under-21 Women:

Earlier today, the Women had a couple of close losses to round out the round robin stage. They fell to leaders Queensland 104 (3) – 90 (1) in their first match. Batting first, put up a solid first innings score of 90, with Paris Rafferty and Alyssa Humphries continuing their good form, putting up 31 in the opening partnership, and the rest of the team making steady contributions. While the Hammers kept pace with QLD with the majority of the second innings, leaving them 22 to win in the final skin, they managed to overhaul the total by the 15th over.

In their second match of the day, they came up against a resurgent South Australian side who notched up their first win of the tournament with a nine-run win. Showing they will prove to be a tough opponent tomorrow, SA batted first and scored 105, with Victorian leaking runs in the last pair of 42. The target proved to be just out reach for Victoria, despite Alyssa Humphries and Amy Jennings scoring 20 apiece in the last pair.

Coach Sue Rose expects a tight contest tomorrow, as it has been throughout the tournament so far. “Most of the games have been pretty close; there have only really been two or three games decided by 20 runs or more. I expect a tight game tomorrow” said Rose. “We just have to be switched on in the field; today we missed heaps of run-outs and there were a few drop catches. We also gave up 30 extras today – that is way too much. If we are to compete with these teams, especially Queensland, we have to ensure we capitalise when given the chance, and ensure their pairs do not easily build partnerships”.

The preliminary final against SA is at 5pm tomorrow.

Summary Scores (batting team first):

VIC 90 (1) [Rafferty 25, Jennings 14] lost to QLD 104 (3) [Humphries 1/9, Jennings 1/11, Rafferty 0/11

SA 105 (2) [Adams 1/10, Medland 1/10] def. VIC 96 (2) [Jennings/Humphries 20, Adams/Rafferty 17]

Standings after round-robin: QLD 39, VIC 26, SA 19

Under-21 Men:

After a promising day yesterday, the Under-21 Men lost both their games to ACT and NSW Country to finish in sixth place and disappointingly end their tournament.

Unfortunately for the team, captain Jacob Carruthers had not recovered from his injury sustained the previous night and did not take part in the matches today. They went down in their first game to ACT who proved to have too much firepower with the bat, making 117 in the first innings. The Hammers could simply not put enough pressure on the Rockets, Daniel Juricic taking the only wicket to fall in the eighth over. Jai Elcock and MacKenzie Harvey got Victoria off to yet another good start, putting 34 for the first pair. However, 10 runs in the next two pairs put the game well out of reach.

Losing to ACT essentially ended their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals, and as such, they opted to rest some players for the last game against NSW Country. A sound platform was laid again by Harvey and Elcock, who made 23, but disappointingly they were not backed up their team mates, the next three pairs making nine collectively. From there it was always going to be an uphill battle, with NSW Country going past the total in the first pair, on their way to 105 and a big win.

The sixth placing will be dissatisfying for a team which is capable of a lot better and came in with some very handy players. There were some bright spots with Elcock scoring 143 runs in 9 games (=6 net average) and his opening partner Harvey close behind on 129 runs (+3 net average). Both always set up and laid a platform for the team, but the rest could not ultimately capitalise. Captain Jacob Carruthers was outstanding with the ball, taking 6 wickets for 43 runs in 7 games, at an economy of just over three runs per over (+5 net average). Unfortunately, the individual performances did not translate to team performances when it mattered and they could not compete with the better sides in the competition.

Summary Scores (batting team first):

ACT 117 (3) [Juricic 1/10, Elcock 0/10] def. VIC 73 (1) [Elcock 23, Jhamb 19]

VIC 32 (0) [Harvey 14, Juricic/Zomer 13] lost to NSW Country 105 (4) [Elcock, Zomer, Jhamb 1/6]

Standings after round-robin: QLD 50.5, SA Black 48.5, WA 48, ACT 41, NSW Country 40, VIC 29, NSW Metro 24, SA Red 6

Open Women’s – Day 6: Victoria finish in third place, will play minor semi-final against NSW

By Ahmad Khawaja

The round-robin stage has concluded at the National Championships, and two impressive performances today have seen Victoria retain their third placed position, behind South Australia and unbeaten leaders Queensland. The Hammers will play New South Wales in the minor semi-final tomorrow, whilst Queensland will play South Australia for a spot in the grand final. The preliminary final (winner of minor semi vs loser of major semi) will play each other that evening.

They will be bolstered by the fact they hammered their minor semi-final opponents in convincing fashion earlier today, which has seen them gain some momentum going into the knock-out stages.

Batting first, Victoria put up an imposing 133, with Adelaide Campion and Nicole Martin opening with 40. All four partnerships made contributions as NSW struggled to contain the Victorian onslaught, only taking three wickets through the innings. The Women batted confidently, turning the strike over more frequently than in previous matches, conceding only 18 dot-balls and scoring over 10 runs in an over seven times. They never let NSW get out of the blocks. Two runs were scored in the first two pairs, with Chloe Ip and Madeleine Wright taking two apiece in their first over in the first pair alone. In total they took 13 wickets.

They almost didn’t make it onto the court for their evening match against WA owing to a leaky roof at Action Indoor Sports Toowoomba, which had affected at least two of the courts in the centre. “The NSW team initially were not keen to go ahead with the match, as it was wet and soggy just off the pitch. The alternative was to call off the match and play it at 9am tomorrow, which we definitely did not want to do”, coach Wayne Turner said. “We ended up starting an hour later”.

In what felt like a carbon copy of the first game, they continued their good form with a thumping win against last-placed WA. Batting first they piled up 135. Again, the contributions were made across each partnership (36-34-23-42), Briony Polkinghorne top scoring with 25 and continuing her impressive tournament to date. Amazingly, the Hammers did not drop one wicket over the whole 16 overs. They followed this up with a very aggressive effort in the field, taking a staggering 17 wickets including eight catches and reducing the last three pairs to a combined three runs. Polkinghorne took four while Martin and Danielle Montague shared three apiece.

Coach Wayne Turner was a lot more pleased with today’s performances. “These were two great team efforts. Everyone really contributed and that’s what was great to see” said Turner. “The girls were just more aggressive in the field and really presented well. The batting has improved out of sight and they were just able to turn the strike over more often and actually find the net”.

Tomorrow’s semi-final should be a similar affair with a potential preliminary final in waiting. “We should win and convincingly, and then perhaps have to play SA, with the way Queensland have been travelling this week. I’ve been doing the four-in, four-out rotation, and it’s still a shoot-out between a couple of players as we finalise the team for the next matches”, said Turner. “We played confidently and well as a team and we have to take that momentum into these matches if we are to make the final. We won’t be taking NSW lightly though”.

That match will take place at 3pm, running simultaneously with the major semi-final between QLD and SA. The preliminary final will take place at 7pm.

Summary Scores (batting team first):

Day 6:

VIC 133 (4) [Martin 24, Polkinghorne 19, Baulch 18] def. NSW 41 (0) [Wright 3/-3, Donald 2/-2]

VIC 135 (4) [Polkinghorne 25, Griffiths/Montague 18] def. WA 24 (0) [Polkinghorne 4/-15, Montague 3/-3, Martin 3/-1]

Standings after round-robin:

QLD 51, SA 38, VIC 34, NSW 11, SA 6

Open Men’s: Victoria finish third, take on WA in minor semi-final tomorrow

By Ahmad Khawaja

The round-robin stages of the Open Men’s competition have concluded with Victoria finishing in third place behind Queensland and defending champions ACT who took top spot. The Hammers will take on Western Australia tomorrow in the minor semi-final, whilst ACT and Queensland do battle for direct entry into the grand final. The preliminary final will take place following this.

Day 5:

They will be buoyed by the fact that they completely swamped WA in their evening match last night by 61 runs, in a match that was pretty much over by the end of the first innings. Batting first, the Hammers reduced WA to 23, with all partnerships going for under 10 runs. They took 14 wickets in the process, Jack Craig starting the rot with two wickets in the very first over. He went on to claim three, as did David Worthington and Geoff Latham. The Hammers took all the chances that came to them, represented by the four run-outs and eight catches they took. They also bowled 31 dot-balls. Whilst the WA partnerships resembled something more like a phone number (3-4-9-7), Victoria were in no mood to give out their own, as the Perkins brothers then set about passing the WA score in the first skin, making 25. The rest of the team followed suit and it resulted in a big win with four skins attained.

Coach Ross Gregory was quite pleased with this effort, praising his side’s performance in the field. “We bowled good lines and lengths. We put it in the right areas & took the opportunities when it came. When we gather some momentum, we are very hard to stop” said Gregory. “The batting was a continuation of good form throughout the tournament and ensured WA were never in the game”.

Day 6:

They came into today’s only game against ACT needing a good win of at least two skins or more to take a top-two spot. However, after bowling first, they could not replicate the same efforts from the WA game. They will lament not taking more of their chances despite bowling more dot balls here (33) than in the previous game and only managing a return of three wickets, which allowed ACT to post 90 in their innings. Justin Perkins was the best of the bowlers, conceding just three from his two overs. Against what was a pretty strong ACT side, the Hammers found the chase difficult, and whilst there were a consistent run of scores, including 17 by Kieran Perkins, no partnership could pass 20, which meant they only claimed one skin in their 27-run loss.

Coach Ross Gregory was less enthused with their last game before the knock-outs. “We bowled poorly. Didn’t get the lines right. It was like the opposite of the WA game” said Gregory. “We bowled to the strengths of some pairs, instead of targeting the weaknesses we knew about. Whether that was bowling short when it should have been full, on the legs instead of outside off; it was all over the place and wasn’t good enough. We just couldn’t get on a roll and that spread to the batting”.

Gregory had been targeting a second or third place finish initially, so will not be too discontent about the final placing. For him, making the preliminary final will be the expectation. He will look to make some changes before the WA match as he still looks to find the right combination for the knock-outs. “We will assess where we need to improve and select the players to come in accordingly” said Gregory. “If we play the way we did against WA last night, then we can definitely make the preliminary final and that is the expectation. Making it beyond that, we would have done well”.

Victoria take on WA in the minor semi-final tomorrow at 3pm, whilst ACT will play Queensland in the major semi-final concurrently. The winner of the minor-semi will play the loser of the major semi-final at 7pm.

Summary Scores (batting team first):

Day 5:

WA 23 (0) [Worthington 3/-6, Craig 3/-4, Latham 3/-3] lost to Victoria 84 (1) [Lawford 20, J Perkins 20, Latham 20]

Day 6:

ACT 90 (3) [J Perkins 1/3, Jones 0/10, Craig 0/10] def. Victoria 63 (1) [K Perkins 17, Rose 11]

Final standings at end of round-robin:

ACT 63.5, QLD 58.5, VIC 53, WA 51, NQ 32, NSW 23, SA 12


5 July 2018

Under-21 Women: Victoria set for preliminary final as Queensland remain unbeaten

By Ahmad Khawaja

A final-over victory over South Australia earlier today has ensured Victoria will take second place, heading into the final round of round-robin fixtures tomorrow.

With Queensland remaining unbeaten at the top on 32 points, they will highly likely go straight through to the grand final, with two games left to play. Victoria are nine points behind on 23, and yet to take a win over the Maroons, whilst winless South Australia remains in third on six points. This means, notwithstanding tomorrow’s results, the preliminary final will most likely be contested between the Hammers and South Australia. Victoria will need to be wary of the South Australian side, who, despite not yet registering a win, have pushed Victoria and Queensland very closely in every game, with five of their six losses coming by nine runs or less.

Wary they will be after the Hammers registered one of those close wins today, when they overcame the South Australians in exciting fashion, snatching victory late in the game in a high-scoring affair. Requiring 23 off the last two overs, the final pair of Amy Jennings and Alyssa Humphries scored a massive 18 off the penultimate over including one seven, before calmly getting through the last over to score 33 all up (116 total) and a great win.

Both teams appeared reasonably evenly matched as SA batted first and amassed 112 from their 16 overs. Sue Rose will ask her team to be exerting more pressure in the field going into the finals, as they were only able to claim two wickets through Paris Rafferty and Alyssa Humphries, who were economical with the ball. The first wicket did not come until the 10th over. This allowed SA to build a total in excess of 100. Their batting response was again led by player of the match Rafferty and Emma Medland (27) who have opened well throughout the tournament. Georgie Peel top scored with 21 as the rest made valuable contributions which enabled the final pair to play freely. Despite losing five wickets to SA’s three, Victoria played more than one over less of dot-balls during their innings.

They have two games tomorrow, first up against Queensland at 11.45am, followed by their final game against SA at 3.15pm.

Summary Scores (batting team first):

SA 112 (2) [Rafferty 1/2, Humphries 1/8, Jennings 0/11] lost to VIC 116 (2) [Peel 21, Jennings 18, Humphries/Rafferty 15]

Standings after six rounds: QLD 32, VIC 23, SA 6


Report: Open Women’s: Victoria fall to Queensland, heading for third place

By Ahmad Khawaja

The Open Women’s side suffered another loss to unbeaten leaders Queensland this evening, leaving them in third place with two rounds of the round-robin to play. With the final day of matches tomorrow, and given they are 11 points behind second-placed South Australia, it leaves them most likely to be facing New South Wales in a minor semi-final (third vs fourth) eliminator on Friday.

For the Hammers it is a disappointing result, after starting strongly yesterday when they comfortably accounted for WA by 86 (4) – 23 (0). The start from Laura Shaw and Adelaide Campion (23) and finish by Briony Polkinghorne and Aimee Mellford (37) set up their total before they took 15 wickets in the 16 overs, three apiece to Campion, Polkinghorne and Mellford setting up a big win.

That was coach Wayne Turner’s expectation as he continued with his four players on, four players off rotation policy up to last night’s game against South Australia. The 86 (2) – 80 (1) loss was hugely disappointing for the coach, as he admitted things were not coming into place as expected. “We have had some time to adjust and had targeted seven points for the SA game, and unfortunately, we are simply not putting in a complete performance”, said Turner after the game. “We are putting up two good partnerships per game, and the others are falling short. We are still making scores so if we can get that together, the communication, shot selection and mental decisions, we will be more competitive”. They will be buoyed by the fact they bowled over six overs in dot balls alone, with Chloe Ip taking 3/-8, and will just know that converting those pressure balls into wickets will be key.

Their only match earlier this evening was another tough encounter against the league leaders. In a high-scoring affair, the Hammers fell by 24 runs, after posting an impressive 106 batting first. That included a consistent run of pairs (29-19-28-30) which saw the momentum swing their way, and contributions all across the team. Only three wickets were conceded over the innings and 22 dot-balls. However, Queensland showed why they are the team to beat, when they overhauled the Victorian score after only three partnerships. Victoria will lament only taking three wickets themselves across the innings, but with six overs conceding 10 runs or more, and half of the score being reached in twos by the end of the third skin, they will look for tighter lines and discipline in executing their bowling lengths to bring their fielders into play.

The Open Women have two games tomorrow and will expect to field their strongest teams as they prepare for the knock-outs. Their first game is likely to be an audition for the minor semi-final against NSW at 1.30pm, while they finish the round-robin against WA at 6.45pm. They are an outside chance of second place if they can attain two big wins tomorrow and SA lose to NSW.

Summary Scores (batting team first):

Day 4:

VIC 86 (4) [Polkinghorne 23, Mellford 19, Wright/Shaw 15) def. WA 23 (0) [Polkinghorne 3/-9, Mellford 3/-9, Campion 3/1]

VIC 80 (1) [Mellford 19, Baulch/Martin 14] lost to SA 86 (3) [Ip 3/-8, Rafferty 1/8, Montague 0/10]

Day 5:

VIC 106 (1) [Mellford 16, Shaw 15, Polkinghorne/Campion/Montague/Griffiths 14] lost to QLD 130 (3) [Polkinghorne 1/8, Mellford 1/10]

Standings after seven rounds*:

QLD 44, SA 31, VIC 20, NSW 11, WA 6


Report: Under-21 Men’s: Hammers in must-win situation tomorrow for semi-finals spot

By Ahmad Khawaja

After winning one match from their first five, the Under-21 Men finally have something to smile about, taking two crucial wins today to finish in 5th place after the round-robin stage, and battle it out with ACT and NSW Country for the last semi-final spot tomorrow.

With all teams having played each other now, the competition has been split. Places 1st – 3rd (SA Black, QLD, WA) take on each other again to determine the make-up of the top 3. Places 4th – 6th will also play each other again, with the team placing fourth after this stage making the semi-finals. For Victoria it is all for them to do. They are on 21 points, just ahead of NSW Country on 20 points. ACT are in the driving seat on 27 points and Victoria must attain two good wins tomorrow to have any chance of eclipsing ACT into fourth. Lose tomorrow morning to ACT & they are out.

That they managed to get to fifth place at all was a testament to a much-improved performance on the court today, after languishing in seventh for most of the competition.

Earlier in the day they attained the desired four skins in their 89 (4) – 57 (0) win over last placed South Australia Red. The Hammers took eight wickets, with Jacob Carruthers yet again being menacing with the ball in the opening stages of two skins (1/1), Kuldeep Patel bowling well in the middle (2/-1) and MacKenzie Harvey doing a finishing job (3/-1). SA could never get away, with no partnership going over 20, and over a quarter of the innings featuring dot balls. In response, the Jai Elcock/Harvey combination continued its great tournament form with 31 to open the innings, with Carruthers and Anthony Vervoort (28) then bypassing the SA total.

The second game was perhaps the White V’s best game to date, in a must-win game against NSW Country. The 90 (2) – 86 (2) victory was sealed with eight runs scored in the final over. In a very tight back-and-forth match, featuring 30 dot-balls in each innings, it was ultimately Victoria’s consistent pairs (20-21-24-25) which got them over the line. The Hammers took nine wickets and conceded five, which manager Sam Bright was very pleased with, stating it was the first time all tournament the side had taken more wickets than they had conceded. “We showed plenty of heart today, some real resolve and things came together”, said Bright. “We bowled a lot better; more dot-balls and that allowed us to create the pressure. Today was the best we have batted all tournament. It was especially pleasing when Jai and MacKenzie, who have been great for us all tournament, made 20 against NSW & the other guys in the team really stepped up when it mattered”.

Bright believes the team is starting to come together and the team knows it is win or go home from here. “We are starting to hit our straps. A few teams might have written us off before but they may just be watching now. We know if we don’t get a decent win against ACT we are out; we are in knock-out mind set and we just have to leave it all on the court”.

Captain Jacob Carruthers suffered an unfortunate injury in the game against NSW Country and was not able to finish his partnership. He will be assessed for the must-win game against ACT tomorrow at 10am, with a second game to follow against NSW Country at 6.45pm.

Summary scores (batting team first):

Day 4

VIC 51 (0) [Harvey 14, Carruthers 12, Zomer 12] lost to SA Black 126 (4) [Elcock 1/4, Carruthers 1/7]

Day 5

SA Red 57 (0) [Harvey 3/-1, Patel 2/-1] lost to VIC 89 (4) [Carruthers 18, Elcock 16, Zomer 16]

NSW Country 86 (2) [Jhamb 1/6, Harvey 1/9] lost to VIC 90 (2) [Carruthers 20, Gore 14, Zomer 14]

Standings at end of first round-robin:

SA Black 36, QLD 35, WA 34, ACT 27, VIC 21, NSW Country 20, NSW Metro 20, SA Red 3


Report: Open Men’s – Victoria target top-3 with two games to play

by Ahmad Khawaja

With two games remaining in the round-robin, the Hammers are well placed for a top-3 finish at the Indoor Cricket National Championships.

Day 4

Yesterday saw Victoria cause a boil over when they beat the defending champions Queensland in thrilling fashion chasing down a target of 77 in the final over to claim four points. A disciplined bowling effort, especially in the second skin, never allowed Maroons to get away, with the Jarrod’s, Burns and Armitage combining to take 3 wickets for four runs off their four overs. The chase was led through the middle by Armitage and Brad Jones (30), and Clive Rose and Jack Craig (23). Even with Queensland continuing to rotate heavily through the tournament, the White V still had the likes of Lyle Teske, Rhys Dearness and Rob Fitzgerald to contend with.

This was backed up by a more disappointing result against South Australia, which had gifted them their only win of the tournament so far. Another good bowling effort led by Mitch Gregory (3/-5) and David Worthington (3/-8), which included 24 dot balls, restricted the South Australians to 61. The batting though could not match it, with -11 in the first skin pushing Victoria back, eventually falling by 10 runs.

Day 5

With ACT and QLD playing to a tie last night, and WA beating ACT earlier this morning, the door was slightly ajar for the Hammers to push back into the top 3. They duly did so with a 74 (3) – 19 (1) whipping of North Queensland in their morning match. After taking no wickets in the first skin, they responded with 12 in the next three including nine in pairs two and three which both scored in the negatives. The pressure told on NQ, with Victoria generating eight wickets to run outs, with Rose (2/-4) and Jones (2/-5) leading the way, and no bowler conceding more than 10 runs.

They backed this up with a high-scoring affair against NSW. Fielding first, the Hammers were surprisingly taken to by the Blues line-up, conceding 108 in their 16 overs, Brayden McKay taking the only wicket despite bowling 29 dot balls all told. This time their batting came to the fore, with Armitage and Jones opening with 40, Geoff Latham and Worthington making 32, and Burns and Gregory claiming a much-needed win with 27 in the final skin.

For coach Ross Gregory, the batting has been the standout, with still work to do in the field. “The chances are definitely there in the field; we just haven’t been capitalising on them as much as we should be. When we do, it comes off brilliantly as you saw against North Queensland. When it doesn’t, we can concede runs, as it happened against New South Wales”. “Our batting has been outstanding; reasonably good. We have been sticking to our plans, making good decisions (except for the South Australia game) and executing them. It is great to see because traditionally, Victorian sides have been known for their bowling and fielding, but we are showing up here”.

With two games left for the Hammers in the round-robin, Gregory is eyeing a second or third placed finish, depending on the result of other matches, with a log-jam at the top (VIC, ACT, WA, QLD) separating themselves from the rest. “We have a tough match against WA tonight; we get the points there, we keep ourselves in with a chance of a top 2-3 position”, Gregory exclaimed. “While there has been some heavy rotation with QLD and a bit less so with ACT (they rely on their fitness), we have been managing it the best. I think we are a match for any team here. We have the best bowling line-up here; it can be devastating with the likes of (the pace of) Jack Craig, Trent Lawford, Jarrod Armitage; we just need to get our lines right”.

State player Rose, limited to one match per day excluding finals, will sit out tonight’s game against WA. That is scheduled for 6.45pm.

Summary scores (batting team first):

Day 4:

QLD 76 (3) [Burns 2/-2, Armitage 1/6] lost to VIC 81 (1) [Armitage 17, Craig 16, Burns 13]

SA 61 (2) [Worthington 3/-8, Gregory 3/-5] def. VIC 51 (2) [K Perkins 18, Gregory 14, Latham 12]

Day 5:

NQ 19 (1) [Rose 2/-5, Jones 2/-4] lost to VIC 74 (3) [Armitage 16, K Perkins 13, Lawford 13]

NSW 108 (1) [McKay 1/8, Burns 0/10) lost to VIC 116 (3) [Armitage 24, Latham 18, Jones 16]

Standings after 10 rounds*:

VIC 45, ACT 44.5*, WA 44*, QLD 41.5*, NQ 23*, NSW 21, SA 12

*Played 9 matches

4 July 2018

Report: Victoria Under-21 Women’s – Day 4 Re-Cap: Hammers chasing Queensland for top spot

by Ahmad Khawaja

The Under-21 Women have progressed well but it’s Queensland who are unbeaten and in top spot just past the half-way point of the round-robin stage of the Under-21 Women’s grade.

In a grade featuring only three teams, Queensland are in first place with 26 points, with Victoria behind on 18 points having yet to defeat them. South Australia are winless, having only managed 5 points from their first four games. The top qualifier goes straight through to the grand final with second and third playing off accordingly.

Their tournament started on Sunday with a first-up loss to Queensland, by 87 (3) – 69 (1). Despite claiming 11 wickets across the Queensland innings, including three in the final over to captain Amy Jennings, the Hammers leaked runs at enough intervals, with six overs conceding over 10 runs each. This allowed the Maroons to post a consistent run of scores across each skin. The Hammers response was led by Paris Rafferty and Emma Medland (25) with Jennings and Keely Pace closing with 30 to give Victoria one point.

Their second outing was a much-improved effort against SA, where they claimed all four skins. The batting was consistent, Keely Pace making 19 and supported well by the rest in their total of 100. Alyssa Humphries took 4/-14 with the ball, with the Hammers showing their ability to take wickets, nine all told, as they claimed a 21-run win. The formula has been repeated in the last two days, conceding 108 to Queensland in their second loss before rebounding with a 2-run win over South Australia, defending 33 in the last skin and bowling tightly with 21 dot balls in total.

Today’s game saw them again concede over 100 to Queensland, with 134 proving to be too much of a task, taking only 3 wickets in the process. While the bowling and the ability to concede big overs in the Queensland matches will be an issue to address over the next day, coach Sue Rose will be encouraged by the batting, specifically the opening combination of Rafferty/Medland and closing combination of Jennings/Pace who have each contributed at least 20 runs in every match.

The Under-21 Women take on SA in their only game tomorrow at 1.30pm, which they will need to win and win well to keep pace with the Maroons. They will need a win in their final game against Queensland on Thursday to have a chance of top place and avoid a play-off match.

Summary Scores (batting team first):

Day 1-3:

QLD 87 (3) [Jennings 3/0, Rafferty 2/1] def. VIC 69 (1) [Jennings 16, Pace 14, Rafferty 13]

SA 79 (0) [Humphries 4/-4, Carruthers 2/6] lost to VIC 100 (4) [Pace 19, Adams 15, Medland 14]

VIC 79 (2) [Rafferty 17, Peel 13] lost to QLD 107 (2) [Medland 1/10, Pace 2/11, Peel 1/11]

VIC 96 (3) [Jennings 21, Medland 20, Adams 20] def. SA 94 (1) [Rafferty 2/-3, Adams 2/1]

Day 4:

QLD 134 (2) [Medland 1/11, Rafferty 0/15] def. VIC 87 (2) [Humphries 15, Jennings 14]

Standings: QLD 26, VIC 18, SA 5

3 July 2018

Report: Open Men’s – Day 3: Victoria keep pace at the top

By Ahmad Khawaja

The Indoor Cricket National Championships are almost half-way through the round-robin stage with Victoria well-placed to push for a top-4 finish.

Although each other State has a game in hand, the Hammers have won four from their first six matches for a total of 27 points, to sit in equal-first position with ACT (five wins for 27 points), with Queensland trailing right behind in third position (23 points).

The Hammers opened their tournament on an impressive note, thrashing South Australia 111 (4) – 38 (0) and taking all four skins in the process. Veteran Brad Jones had a man of the match performance with a net +31 game, hitting 17 with the bat and then taking 4/-14 with the ball including three in one over in the third skin, to take apart the South Australians.

Two tough games followed against front-runners Queensland and ACT. They lost a tight-run contest to the Maroons by 79 (2) – 70 (2) which had come down to their final pair of David Worthington and Michael Yates requiring 22 to take the win. The loss however underlined their ability to stay the course with one of the favoured teams to take the title with a spirited fielding display yielding five wickets in the last eight overs including four run-outs, as they restricted Queensland to a chaseable score.  ACT came back from a 1-run loss to Queensland to win convincingly by 112 (2) – 59 (2) and show their credentials as one of the teams to beat. With four Floros family members in the opposing side, it was always going to be a tough ask. They were without captain Justin Perkins, his brother Kieran and Clive Rose for the match, as coach Ross Gregory opted to test some of his squad strength.

Victoria bounced back from that loss to record three decisive victories over the other teams in the competition, taking 17 points over North Queensland, Western Australia (fourth with 20 points) and NSW, restricting each team to under 60 in the process. Their 104 (2) – 54 (2) win over WA was headlined by Jarrod Burns who took 3/-9 amongst a superb all-round fielding display before the Perkins’ brothers opened the chase with 40 runs. The same formula was repeated in their win against NSW, restricting the Blues to just 39, as they took 10 wickets in the process.

Coach Ross Gregory is pleased with the progress so far. “We are doing well so far; we’ve beaten the teams we needed to beat and we ran Queensland very close, said Gregory. “Our bowling and fielding has been great; the fielders are backing up the bowlers and we are taking our chances. Our batting can slip and we need to ensure we stay consistent and not relying on one or two pairs to carry us. We will be putting our best teams forward for those two clashes in the second round-robin stage. It is important at this stage that everyone plays, rests accordingly, stays fresh and switched on”.

The Open Men’s next game is against Queensland at 10am tomorrow.

Summary Scores (batting team first):

SA 38 (0) [Jones 4/-14, Lawford 2/-1] lost to Victoria 111 (4) [Armitage 22, Worthington 21]

QLD 79 (2) [Gregory 2/2, Rose 1/7] def. Victoria 70 (2) [K Perkins 17, Rose 17]

ACT 112 (2) [B Jones 1/1, Burns 0/13] def. Victoria 59 (2) [Burns 18, Lawford 16]

WA 54 (2) [Burns 3/-9, Craig 2/-4] lost to Victoria 104 (2) (J Perkins 22, Armitage 19]

NSW 39 (1) [K Perkins 3/-2, Armitage 2/-3] lost to Victoria 69 (3) [Armitage 17, McKay 14]

Victoria 80 (2) [Armitage 22, Lawford 18] def. NQ 56 (2) [Craig 2/-3, J Perkins 2/-1]


Report: Victoria Open Women’s – Day 3: Queensland dominant, Hammers hold on to second

Following an exciting first-up win on Saturday evening, the Open Women’s team have delivered two wins and one loss to sit in second place, well behind Queensland, with a game in hand.

The Maroons have looked every bit the defending champions, sailing to 26 points from their first four games, taking every skin available to them except two. Victoria are back in second with 11 points, with South Australia on third with ten points and NSW and WA further behind.

Victoria’s second match which took place yesterday saw them fall 51 (1) – 75 (3) to Queensland. The match was primarily won up front with the first three pairs yielding 25 runs before Briony Polkinghorne and Chloe Rafferty closed the innings with 26. They battled hard in the field, taking seven wickets, including three by Nicole Martin. They backed that up with a 27-run win over NSW. This was set up by a blistering opening skin of 43 by Martin and Laura Shaw, and an impressive 30 in the third by Madeleine Wright and Zoe Griffiths, which helped them amass 106. While NSW scored two 30+ skins themselves, the total was too much and saw the Hammers pick up five points.

Coach Wayne Turner was disappointed but remained optimistic. “We are still looking for that right combination, and the first round will allow us to do that. That’s why we will continue to move four-on and four-off (replacements) until the second round, when we will shift to two” said Turner. “I think with the Queensland match; you would have seen it wasn’t our strongest team. The batting was more about the fear of failure and really just completing that task set in front of them. It takes time to train it out (of them)”.

The bowling has been good, with the Hammers conceding under 80 in all three games so far, and Turner is asking his side for greater tightening in the lines they bowl, as well as adjusting to the new turf at Toowoomba. “It will be that sort of thing which gains us an additional skin, which is what I really wanted tonight (against NSW)” Turner exclaimed. “I think for bowling and batting; the girls are also getting used to new decks (at Toowoomba) which are a lot fresher and bouncier compared to the older ones they are used to (back in Victoria). That requires some adjustment”.

The Open Women’s next match is against fourth placed WA tomorrow at 1.30pm, before starting the second round at 6.45pm against SA.

Summary Scores (batting team first):

SA 74 (2) [Wright 2/3, Shaw 2/5) lost to Victoria 77 (2) [Polkinghorne 31, Donald 15, Martin 15]

Victoria 51 (1) [Polkinghorne 18, Donald 10] lost to QLD 75 [Martin 3/1, Donald 1/5]

Victoria 106 (2) [Martin 23, Shaw 20, Griffiths 16] def. NSW 79 (2) [Martin 3/-2, Ip 2/1]

Standings: QLD 26, VIC 11, SA 10, WA 5, NSW 4


Report: Victoria Under-21 Men’s – Day 3: Hammers with work to do

After a slow start to their campaign the Under-21 Men have got their first win on the board with a win over NSW Metro earlier tonight.

In a notably strong competition, the Hammers find themselves in seventh position out of eight with nine points, and a game less in hand. Front-runners Western Australia are at the top with 17 points, followed by South Australia Black (16), NSW Country (14) and Queensland (13) all having claimed two wins apiece. With the Hammers having played QLD, ACT and WA in their first three games, they will be buoyed by the fact that other teams are yet to play them, and this is where they will need to claw back vital points in the competition race.

While their batting has been consistent, with all four games yielding scores of over 70, the bowling has not been executed well thus far, according to manager Sam Bright. “We haven’t been bowling well to our plans and have really bowled to the strengths of our opposition”, said Bright. “For example, against WA, they are a good driving side, and we bowled very full to them to allow them to play those shots. If we weren’t doing that we were bowling easy down-up deliveries. Taking the same wickets as them and bowling the same number of dots, that’s what made the difference”.

Indeed, Victoria faced a tough proposition against defending champions WA in their first match, falling by 126 (4) – 89 (0). They backed that up with losses to Queensland and ACT where they grabbed two skins apiece. They will be encouraged by the fact they have played three of the stronger teams already and will need to capitalise on the matches they have ahead in the round-robin.

For the batting, the highlight has been the excellent batting of the first pair of Mackenzie Harvey and Jai Elcock and the second pair of captain Jacob Carruthers and Daniel Juricic. The pairs have scored no less than 22 in each match between them, which has allowed Victoria to get real momentum into building or chasing totals. “Mackenzie and Jai, and Jacob and Daniel have batted really well together and are settled combinations, so we have opted to leave that going. We are missing probably one to one a half pairs with the batting, and that’s where we need to make up the runs”, said Bright.

The signs were a lot more encouraging in their 96 (2) – 71 (2) win over NSW Metro. Fielding first they took eight wickets in the field, having managed 10 in their first three games alone, which Bright was very pleased with. “While we missed a couple of plays, we brought the fielders into play a lot more, and that is what brought us our wickets. We are very capable of doing that consistently”.

The Under-21 Men’s next match is against South Australia (Black) at 5pm tomorrow.

Summary Scores (batting team first):

Victoria 89 (0) [Zomer 16, Juricic 15, Elcock 15] lost to WA 126 (4) [Juricic 1/10, Gore 1/13]

QLD 93 (2) [Carruthers 1/2, Elcock 0/8] def. Victoria 71 [Elcock 20, Harvey 16]

Victoria 69 (2) [Juricic 19, Harvey 17] lost to ACT 87 (2) [Harvey 1/7, Zomer 1/9, Jhamb 1/9]

NSW Metro 71 (2) [Carruthers 2/-2, Patel 2/4] lost to Victoria 96 (2) [Elcock 26, Harvey 17]

Standings:  WA 17, SA Black 16, NSW Country 14, QLD 13, NSW Metro 11, ACT 10, VIC 9, SA Red 1

1 July 2018

By Ahmad Khawaja

Report: Polkinghorne Masterclass leads Victorian Women to thrilling last-ball win

Set 78 to chase, the Hammers got off to a solid start with Nicole Martin (15) and newcomer Elly Donald (15) sharing in a partnership of 30, scoring no less than nine twos. There was a battle through the middle, giving up skins of 3 and 6, leaving the final pair of Briony Polkinghorne and Zoe Griffiths the task of an imposing 36 to attain the win. Polkinghorne called on all of her experience, as she hammered 31 off just 13 balls, with five twos, two threes and a last-ball seven to seal the win and claim six points to open Victoria’s account.

Coach Wayne Turner was happy with the opening win, set up by an impressive fielding effort. “There was a bit of first game nerves, and I think that showed in parts of both innings”, said Turner. “Our first four overs in the field were fantastic (included three run-outs), and then in the middle eight overs, we let it slip. There were too many loose balls, giving SA too room outside off and that allowed them to build their total (54 runs in those 8 overs)”.

Earlier in the game, Victoria started on the right note, restricting the first SA skin to only one run. Polkinghorne, Donald and Griffiths bowled three tight overs, before finishing bowler Adelaide Campion took two wickets in her final over, both run-out. Two strong partnerships in the middle threatened to take the score past 80 before Donald, Martin and Madeleine Wright pulled it back in the last skin with two wickets between them. Six run-outs all told provides a summary of the team putting pressure on SA and backed up well by their field.

Turner spoke about setting some batting challenges for the players. “The batting was similar to the bowling in having a great first skin, a battle in the middle, and a great finish at the end. There were some challenges set as some of the girls were batting out of position or not batting with their regular batting partners (Adelaide Campion and Laura Shaw being a regular opening skin for example) which is a good test, and for learning communication, which I think they really had to battle through during their four overs”, said Turner. “I’m also very pleased for Briony. It’s great that I can call on that experience at the end and know a game can be in safe hands with her at one end; she played superbly. The scores also probably don’t reflect that Zoe supported her very well”.
The team’s next match is against Queensland tonight at 6.45pm.

Victoria 77 (2) [B Polkinghorne 31, E Donald 15, N Martin 15]
Def. South Australia 75 (2) [M Wright 2/3, L Shaw 2/4, A Campion 2/7]

Net game: B Polkinghorne +22, E Donald +4, M Wright +1
Wickets taken: 9
Times out: 8

30 June 2018
By Ahmad Khawaja

Victoria Under-21 Men’s: Preview

2017 result: Group Stage
National titles: 8 (1993, 1995-99, 2004, 2011)
Jay Jhamb (Cranbourne Kings), Benji Gore (Cricket Southern Bayside), Benn Zomer (Croydon Raiders), Jai Elcock (Frankston Sharks), Mackenzie Harvey (Monash Tigers), Jacob Carruthers (Captain, Northcote Knights), Kuldeep Patel (Northcote Pirates), Daniel Juricic (North Geelong Supercats), Chris Brown, Ryan Miller, Karthik Nadadur, Anthony Vervoort
Coach: Chris Reid
Manager: Sam Bright

The Under-21 Men’s side will have hopes for a better finish at this year’s National Championships. The eight-time winners exited at the group stage last year but have bolstered their stocks with some up-and-coming players from the Under-17s squad. Northcote’s Jacob Carruthers will again lead the side, bringing into the squad Jay Jhamb, Jai Elcock (who will have double duty with the Under-17s as well), Benn Zomer, Daniel Juricic and the super-impressive Mackenzie Harvey.

Manager Sam Bright believes the team has a better structure to it this year, has been preparing well and should have the strength to go further than previously. “It’s a bit of a different group from last year. We have been training since February, brought up some handy players from the Under-17s and also participated in the (premier grade of) Queen’s Birthday tournament at Northcote”, said Bright.

The focus on developing junior indoor cricket in Victoria is also visible, with a number of the squad having playing NICL-level cricket, which Bright is pleased with. “There’s (only) three to four players in the squad who haven’t played in a State tournament or played higher-grade super league cricket. A number are playing at NICL-level and played at these tournaments and know what it takes”.

The team has a good bowling group with a lot of variation in the ranks, and the fielders to back them up. “We have good pace in the likes of Jacob Carruthers and Jay Jhamb, other guys who can swing the bowl well and a couple of spinners. They bowl well to their field and the guys know where they want their field to be, based on where they are bowling” Bright exclaimed.

“The improvements will just be around those guys who haven’t played that level of cricket before, who haven’t played Nationals. It will just be monitoring how they go. They have improved for sure since joining the squad and played in the Queen’s Birthday tournament. But the carnival is a lot different”, said Bright.

Watch out for
Mackenzie Harvey – the rising all-round cricketer has already secured a State contract with Victoria and the Melbourne Renegades. He hit a half-century in a touring match against an England XI last summer. Expect him to be a force with the bat, as well as behind the stumps. “The kid can definitely play; a state and BBL contract, and his knock against England will tell you all that you need to know”.

Jai Elcock will captain the Under-17s as well, playing in the Under-21s as receiver. “He’s strong with bat and ball, and there’s no reason why he cannot make the Australian Under-17 World-Cup squad this year”.
Bright continued “with a tour to Sri Lanka this year for the senior teams, it would be great to see some Victorian players join me (as manager) in the Under-21s”.

Western Australia have been strong in this grade the past few years, having won the last three titles. But expect a pretty strong competition with Queensland and NSW noted to field solid teams, as well as two from South Australia.

The Under-21 Men’s side will start their tournament against defending champions Western Australia on Sunday at 11.45am.

28 June 2018
By Ahmad Khawaja

National Indoor Cricket Championships Women’s Preview

The Open Women’s side will go into this week’s Indoor Cricket National Championships looking to top last year’s performance which saw them lose in a close-run final to Queensland. With the experience in the squad and array of Australian representatives at both Open Women’s and Under-21’s level, there is no reason why they cannot add to their impressive list of national titles under veteran coach Wayne Turner.

Australian representative Nicole Martin will lead the side, which looks relatively unchanged from last year’s tournament. It boasts an impressive line-up of representative players, including her fellow Australian teammates from last year’s World Cup in Briony Polkinghorne, Laura Shaw and Danielle Montague, as well as Under-21 players Adelaide Campion, Madeleine Wright and Victorian Outdoor and Melbourne Stars player Chloe Rafferty.

Turner has brought up players from the Under-21s side this year to balance out the squad, which includes Wright, Ella Baulch, Zoe Griffiths and Elly Donald, who is also playing for the Victorian Outdoor team alongside Rafferty. Turner is pleased with the added pace these girls will bring. “The likes of Chloe Rafferty and Elly Donald, who have been playing outdoor cricket for Victoria, have some real pace in them and I think will trouble some batsmen. Add in Ella Baulch, Danielle Montague and Briony Polkinghorne, and you a have a great seam bowling arsenal there”.

The team has a great fielding unit, coupled with the pace in their bowling stocks. “Our batting is secondary, not to say we cannot bat, but with 100 generally being a winning score, I back us to defend those lower scores of 60-70 with the firepower we have” Turner exclaimed. “From an improvement side it will just be about bringing the younger players in and making them comfortable with the bat and making the right mental decisions at the crunch times, like in the final last year against Queensland”.

Watch out for
Chloe Rafferty (NICL: 5 matches, 73 runs at SR 135; 4 wickets at RPO 6.40) – “in the last 2 years she’s really evolved in her time with the Victorian outdoor side and the Melbourne Stars. She’s getting better and better and I think her bowling is really going to test some batting line-ups”.
Elly Donald (NICL: 5 matches, 77 runs at SR 143; 6 wickets at RPO 3.60) – “she’s had a good season so far in the NICL and is another who has benefited from being in the Victorian outdoor environment. She brings a lot of pace and energy in the field” said Turner.

Expect this to be another close-run affair with traditional rivals Queensland, and South Australia forming a strong top 3.

The Open Women’s side start their tournament against South Australia on Saturday at 7pm.

Victoria Open Women’s: Hammers looking to go one better
2017 result: Runner-up (lost to Queensland)
National titles: 5 (2006, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016)

Aimee Mellford, Danielle Montague, Madeleine Wright (Cranbourne Kings), Adelaide Campion, Elly Donald, Laura Shaw (Croydon Raiders), Chloe Rafferty (Essendon Maribyrnong Park Bombers), Briony Polkinghorne, Zoe Griffiths (Hoppers Crossing Hurricanes), Nicole Martin (Captain), Chloe Ip, Ella Baulch (Northcote Knights)
Coach: Wayne Turner
Manager: Tommy Holt

27 June 2018
By Ahmad Khawaja

National Indoor Cricket Championships Men’s Preview

The Victoria’s Open Men’s side will set off for Toowoomba, Queensland later this week for the National Indoor Cricket Championships, as they look for their first National title since 1994. They will be looking to improve on their finish last year, when they were narrowly beaten by this year’s host in the preliminary semi-final and will face a similarly stiff challenge from them again this year and favourites ACT to be a title contender.

They are bolstered by the return of recently retired Australian coach Ross Gregory, who brought them their last championship. State and Big Bash League representatives Clive Rose and Trent Lawford also return for the Hammers, with the latter transitioning into a player/assistant coaching role.

The team, led by Captain and Australian representative Justin Perkins, has a very experienced look to it, with eight of the 12 players in the squad from last year’s Nationals being retained, including Brad Jones, Kieran Perkins, Geoff Latham, Jack Craig and Mitch Gregory. The squad contains a number of players from clubs who have been performing well in the NICL Victoria West and East divisions this season including Croydon Raiders, Melton Falcons and Northcote Knights.

They will be missing the services of key player and Perkins’ fellow Australian and Croydon teammate Travis Baker, who was unavailable due to work commitments, but welcome able reinforcements in the shape of Northcote duo Jarrod Burns and David Worthington.

Legendary coach returns
Gregory was last at the helm of the Victorian side in a full-time capacity back in 1997, also taking them to the grand final of the Nationals held in Werribee in 2015. He embarked on a highly successful coaching career with the Australian Open Men’s side from 2001-17, leading them to an unprecedented seven consecutive World Cup titles.

While he hasn’t been actively coaching Victorian teams during this time, his role as Indoor Cricket Manager has meant he has kept an active interest and oversight over the Victorian sides. And he is relishing the chance to bring a National title back to Victoria. “I am really excited to be back coaching the Victorian Open Men’s side (for at least this season) at the National Indoor Cricket Championships” Gregory said. “We have a really talented, but also experienced squad that have been putting in strong performances across the National Indoor Cricket League in the leadup to this tournament. I am very motivated to see Victoria do well at the National Championships. Victoria has not won the tournament since the mid-90s, and there is a burning desire amongst the group to perform well.”

Gregory will also have Hoppers Crossing Hurricanes player Trent Lawford to call on as his assistant coach, to further improve the knowledge bank within the squad. “It is fantastic to have Trent on board as an assistant coach this season. His experience and knowledge across both Indoor and Outdoor cricket will be invaluable for the squad.”

Lawford builds on impressive playing career
An experienced indoor cricketer alongside many of his teammates, Lawford is again looking forward to being part of the Open’s set-up for the tournament and the prospect of some opposition from traditional powerhouses Queensland and ACT. “It’s exciting to again be part of the Victorian Indoor Cricket program. We’ve built a really impressive squad this year with the likes of Clive Rose, Justin and Kieran Perkins and Brad Jones all returning from last year”. Like last year, Queensland and ACT will likely be strong again, but I’m confident that this year’s team can go one step further with the depth we possess”.

Lawford’s form for his NICL side the Hurricanes has been good this season, even though they are not at the top of the ladder in the Victoria West division. His pace, combined with his high strike rate and ability hit the back net, makes him a tough proposition. “I have really enjoyed the NICL again this season, and while we’re not in the ladder position we would like currently I’m confident we have the team that can make a big impact come finals”.

He’s also looking forward to the challenge of balancing his playing duties with the responsibility of having input in helping the team through his role as assistant coach under the guidance of Gregory. “I’m really honoured to take on the assistant coaching role alongside Ross – his knowledge of the Indoor game is second to none. Coaching in Indoor Cricket gives me a great opportunity to not only apply what I have learnt from State and Big Bash cricket in the past, but also to develop new skills and assist the next level of up and coming Indoor Cricket stars across Victoria.

Rose looks forward to the challenge
Clive Rose has been busy plying his trade in Tasmania with pre-season training, where he is looking to break into the State One-day side alongside his role in the Hurricanes BBL side. He balances this with his own duties coaching and playing in the NICL for the Kingborough Knights. He believes the squad is strong if not better than last year and can mount a serious offense for the title. “We have a similar if not stronger squad than last year. The preparation has not been as good as we would have liked. But I was thinking back to (the National tournament in) Mount Werribee a few years ago when we had a similar sort of preparation but made the final. It’s not the pre-season we would have liked, but the guys have been playing a lot of cricket in saying that, and I have trained with the squad in Melbourne a couple of times when I have been up there.”

He’s also found playing NICL down in Tasmania has held him in good stead for this week’s tournament, having had to adjust to a different fielding position for his club. “The boys down here take it very seriously, playing once a week, training once a week, and playing NICL once a fortnight. I’m usually fielding at the back stumps where I feel most comfortable and get a good view of the whole court and overall game. But I’ve been fielding at the three-line for the Knights which has meant I’ve been learning quite a bit more about how that works. Being the only left-armer in the Victorian side, I could see myself fielding there during the tournament as well, but we’ll see”.

Captain targets a grand final spot
Perkins thinks this is perhaps the best side he has been apart of in his time in the blue and white. “We have kept eight of our 12 players from last year including Brad (Jones), Clive (Rose), Trent (Lawford), Kieran (Perkins), Mitch (Gregory), Jack (Craig) and myself. Unfortunately, Travis (Baker) was unavailable due to work this year, but we have picked up some good players in Jarrod (Burns), David (Worthington), Michael (Yates), Jarrod (Armitage) and Brayden (McKay)”, Perkins said.

The key to a place in the grand final and shot at the title will be keeping the players close to each other and fit ahead of a week-long tournament where players can start to fatigue during the second half when the crunch matches are played. “We played in the preliminary final last year but (yes) we are looking to be grand final contenders”, Perkins noted. “We have a great talent pool and we just need to bond well and keep fit come the second half of the week. If we play well and to our ability there’s no reason why we cannot take on Queensland and the ACT”.

Victoria kicks-off their campaign against South Australia on Saturday at 7pm.

Open Men’s Squad:
Justin Perkins (Captain), Kieran Perkins, Geoff Latham (Croydon Raiders), Jack Craig, Mitch Gregory (Cranbourne Kings), Clive Rose (Cricket Southern Bayside/Kingborough Knights), Jarrod Armitage (Frankston Sharks), Trent Lawford (Assistant Coach, Hoppers Crossing Hurricanes), Brad Jones, Michael Yates (Melton Falcons), Jarrod Burns, David Worthington (Northcote Knights), Brayden McKay (North Geelong Supercats)

Coach: Ross Gregory
Assistant Coach: Peter Leerson
Manager: John Chilton

About the author:
Ahmad Khawaja is a cricket and rugby league contributor at RealSport and will be following and reporting on the progress of the Victorian sides during the National Indoor Cricket Championships in Toowoomba, Queensland from 30 June – 14 July.

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