After extreme heat vetoed the return of Cricket Shepparton action last week, players across the district will be itching to get out on the field tomorrow.
But with a chance of rain forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning across Greater Shepparton, the local governing body has reminded all clubs that their covers should be on in order to make sure all cricket is played.
The conditions of play have also changed for most grades this week, with the initial red ball two-day fixtures changed to white ball one-day matches in A, B, C and D-grade.
E-grade action will remain a one-day game, with last week’s fixtures called a draw.
Only four Haisman Shield contests remain before the finals series begins, and with the squeeze on as teams jostle for positions (the largest gap between any two outfits is just one match) it is the perfect time to assess each side’s situation.
Record: 7, 1, 1 (win, draw, loss) — first.
Best performer: The key to Katandra’s success has been the evenness of its contributors — highlighted by four batsmen residing in the top 11 of the competition — but combining 256 runs with 10 wickets gives captain Jedd Wright the nod so far. His unbeaten 41 against Central Park-St Brendan’s secured a one-day premiership, while two four-wicket hauls early in the season gave the Eagles plenty of momentum.
This week: Northerners at Tallygaroopna Recreation Reserve.
Run home: Shepparton United (H), Numurkah (A), Old Students (H).
Evaluation: The Eagles are in a brilliant position at the top of the table, but will want to keep winning heading into the finals series. A victory tomorrow is needed to keep Numurkah at bay, but with two home fixtures against bottom-three sides to come Katandra should maintain its spot.
Record: 6, 2, 1 — second.
Best performer: The all-round prowess of both captain Liam Gledhill and star recruit Shaun Downie has been hard to split at Numurkah so far this campaign. Gledhill has amassed 247 runs at an average of 41.17, just shading Downie’s 235 at 29.38, while the opposite is true with the ball as the latter has 13 wickets at 12.15 and the former 12 at 14.42.
This week: Tatura at Numurkah Showgrounds.
Run home: Central Park-St Brendan’s (A), Katandra (H), Mooroopna (A).
Evaluation: The Blues have arguably the toughest remaining draw of the current top-six, facing a Tatura side playing for its season tomorrow before facing first, third and sixth. Gledhill’s charges have the calibre to hit the finals with a full head of steam though as they boast a quarter of the top-16 bowlers and the same percentage of the top dozen batsmen. A couple of losses could see them drop to as low as fifth, but it’s more likely that second and third position will be decided by next week’s clash against the Tigers.
CENTRAL PARK-ST BRENDAN’S
Record: 6, 1, 2 — third.
Best performer: Brendan Scott’s 18 wickets at an average of 11.56 has him atop the bowling ranks so far this season. Scott has snared two or more wickets six times from nine attempts for the Tigers, and in one of his wicketless matches conceded just 37 runs in 21 overs.
This week: Shepparton United at John Riordan Oval.
Run home: Numurkah (H), Old Students (A), Karramomus (H).
Evaluation: Even if the Tigers cannot overcome Numurkah next round they stand a strong chance of rising to second on the table by the end of the regular season, with fixtures against the bottom three sides to come. While the side is not causing much damage with the bat (ranked second last for runs scored) it has made up for it in spades with the ball, taking six more wickets than any other team (80).
Record: 5, 1, 3 — fourth.
Best performer: Kyabram captain Alec Young has almost won matches on his own on more than one occasion this season, with a pair of unbeaten half-centuries integral to chasing down totals and two four-wicket hauls helping restrict the opposition.
This week: Mooroopna at Kyabram Recreation Reserve.
Run home: Karramomus (A), Northerners (H), Tatura (A).
Evaluation: The Redbacks need to put some scores on the board over the next month to combat a tough draw. Young’s charges certainly have the ability to defend any total though, and will be confident of holding their spot on the ladder with two full games separating themselves and seventh.
Record: 4, 2, 3 — fifth.
Best performer: Among a host of bowling weapons, Mark Nolan’s 18 wickets at 12.83 stands out for the Jets. His ability to rip opposition teams to shreds was highlighted in round seven (5-44) and round eight (6-50).
This week: Katandra at Tallygaroopna Recreation Reserve.
Run home: Mooroopna (H), Kyabram (A), Shepparton United (A).
Evaluation: The Jets are likely to taste finals action again this year, but will need to defeat some quality sides to do so as they remain just nine points from seventh. Coach Steve Allen will encourage his side to play with freedom tomorrow against the ladder-leaders, and a stirring victory could set the Jets for a deep finals run. A couple of slip ups over the next few weeks would thrust the Northerners right back to the borderline of post-season action though, so the outfit must remain focused.
Record: 3, 2, 4 — sixth.
Best performer: Will Hale is making runs for fun this season, and has two centuries to his name already. His 414 runs at 51.8 have mostly come from four innings, so once he gets a start he is incredibly hard to remove.
This week: Kyabram at Kyabram Recreation Reserve.
Run home: Northerners (A), Shepparton United (A), Numurkah (H).
Evaluation: The Cats know they have left some points out on the field to this stage of their campaign, but are hungrier than ever to hold onto their finals ticket. Expect a big performance with both bat and ball this week as the outfit looks to put a bigger gap on Tatura, which is just half a game behind.
Record: 3, 1, 5 — seventh.
Best performer: Rising star Connor Hayes has announced himself as one of the premier all-rounders in the competition with 283 runs and 11 wickets. His 131 and 3-38 against Shepparton United in the last round before Christmas could be a sign of even greater things to come.
This week: Numurkah at Numurkah Showgrounds.
Run home: Old Students (A), Karramomus (H), Kyabram (H).
Evaluation: Tatura’s destiny remains in its own hands. The side must win three of its remaining matches to give itself a chance of playing finals, with tomorrow’s fixture against the Blues a decisive one.
Record: 2, 1, 6 — eighth.
Best performer: Stuart Turner has managed to snare 14 wickets so far this season while also hitting 161 runs at a respectable average of 26.8 for a batter who has floated between numbers six and nine.
This week: Old Students at Vibert Reserve.
Run home: Kyabram (H), Tatura (A), Central Park-St Brendan’s (A).
Evaluation: The Bloods have little choice — win tomorrow against the defending champions or watch their finals hopes perish. Even if Karramomus does not make it into the post-season it can still cause some damage though, with any victory in the last three rounds sure to throw a spanner into the works of opposition plans.
Record: 1, 2, 6 — ninth.
Best performer: Rehan Bari’s 168 from 221 deliveries will be tough to beat as innings of the season, but United will need more like it if they are to make a late charge up the ladder.
This week: Central Park-St Brendan’s at John Riordan Oval.
Run home: Katandra (A), Mooroopna (H), Northerners (H).
Evaluation: One win from nine starts has been tough for United, but it does remain just two games from sixth. While it would be unlikely that the outfit could defeat four current top-six teams stranger things have happened in the game of cricket.
Record: 1, 1, 7 — 10th.
Best performer: Felix Odell has piled on the runs again this season, hitting 320 at an average of 40, but his side have been unable to defend the large totals he has helped set.
This week: Karramomus at Vibert Reserve.
Run home: Tatura (H), Central Park-St Brendan’s (H), Katandra (A).
Evaluation: While it is mathematically still possible, the reigning premier will not get the chance to defend its title in this season’s finals. The Students would take great pleasure in finishing their campaign with a number of wins to remind the rest of the competition just how good they can be — and to avoid a premiership-wooden spoon double.