Tuesday, 5th January, 2016
By Patrick Reincke
As we enter the new year full of promise and wonder, we’ve already seen a fair share of great moments in the Barrier District Cricket League.
The 2015/16 season has provided many thrills and spills so far, and it all begins on January 16.
South’s victory in the newly-added Super 8s competition shocked many at the start of the season and sent the message that they were solid threat.
After battling and battling in the 40-over format of the game, the Roos finally got the win they longed for when they downed North in early December to register their first win in two years.
That was off the back of some impressive batting and even better bowling from the returning Laurence Hebbard.
Cracking 43, Hebbard top scored for the Roos in the opening innings with Rhys Pavlich (38), Tyson Boland (17), Arlen Bird (16) and Ian Grant (16) all contributing to the 172 run total.
With ball in hand, Hebbard then dispatched three menacing North batsmen to lead his side to victory.
Among Hebbard, South has had a host of other players putting in for the side.
Grant, Bird and Pavlich, between the three of them, have put on 264 runs in total this season with Grant the side’s leading run scorer with 103.
Hot on his tail is Ricky Kumar who has tallied 102 runs.
Kumar’s 47 and 36 in the season’s first two weeks saw him start with much promise.
He will be looking to find that form when the red and white take to pitch again.
It’s been an all round performance for the South bowling attack with a three-way tie for leading wicket taker.
Hebbard, Mason Squire and Pete Ali all have four while Pavlich, Alex Page and Stephen Chestnut all have three so far.
When Squire eventually returns to the squad, he will certainly sure up the bowling attack and South may get another win or two.
A steady hand with the bat is a must if they wish to match it with Central and West in the New Year.
While South has sat at the foot of the ladder, Central owns the top spot.
The black and white have been sublime so far this season as they come closer and closer to a four-peat.
Consistent batting, excellent bowling and sharp fielding has seen the side win strongly in many games.
Having recently taken out the T20 title, Central’s skills with the willow has seen them constantly in the driver’s seat of their games.
Jon Carrett leads the side’s run scorers so far with a massive 196 coming from the big man.
Second behind is the reliable Justin Heath who, in his three trips to the crease, has knocked 172 runs which included his superb 88 against South.
With only nine runs coming from his first two weekends, Cam Wells bounced back to form in that same South game, cracking 80.
Wells then followed that up with 60 the week after.
Although Wells has found form in the 40-over format, his brilliance in the T20 was something to marvel - 119 off of 47 balls saw his side roar into the final and eventually claim the champion’s honours.
Matt Menz, Jarred Paull and Paul Gauci have also been credible run sources throughout the season.
Switching to the cherry, Central has had no shortage of wicket takers.
David O’Mally (4), Jarred Paull (4), Luke Neal (4) and Scott Mateer (6) have all proved to be quite consistent over the first six weekends.
Carrett has taken seven wickets but no one has been better than Scott Shepherd.
With 12 wickets to his name, Shepherd will be missed when the season recommences having left town for work reasons.
Also leaving is Brett Hannon who has been an exceptional all-rounder for the side.
Shepherd’s 12 were thanks to an impressive opening weekend to the season.
Five for 12 off seven overs with three maidens is the season’s best individual bowling effort so far and will take some beating.
It will be interesting to see how the Magpies fare without Shepherd and Hannon in the line up, but their impressive list of players should see them stay poised on the top of the ladder.
At the current moment, West looks to be the only team capable of bringing down the Central Empire.
They have already defeated the Magpies once this season and could very well do it again if they’re on.
The stand out by far for the Robins this season has been Clint Pearce.
With a batting average of 43 from five games, and a grand total of 215 so far, Pearce’s aggressive power hitting currently sees him lead the league in runs scored.
In his three appearances this season, Paul Attard continues to be a damaging batsman having scored 192 including an 86 to end the year.
Backing Pearce and Attard up are Matthew Handberg (174), Andrew Henry (148) and Christian Minett (127), all of whom have been industrious with their time at the crease.
West’s batting prowess sees them sit first in total runs scored with 1,248 with Central following on 1,040 and South (850) and North (695) bringing up the rear.
Peter Christos has managed to find wickets on a consistent basis, snagging a total of eight to be the team’s leading wicket taker.
Minett (6), Handberg (4) and Liam King (5) have all done well when given the chance.
Sean Wilson’s excellent four for 22 off seven with a maiden is one of this side’s best bowling figures with Kyle Jelbert doing exactly the same with an extra over.
West could be the ones to end Central’s premiership streak and claim the championship for themselves this season.
Their skill with the bat and precision with the ball gives them good odds to make it to the final and even clench the A-Grade silverware.
Time will tell.
For North, it’s been a pretty rough start to the season.
In the absence of key player Codie Howard, the side has struggled to put up big totals consistently.
Despite a shaky start to his season, Tobias Hack has come into some runs and some much needed form.
Having only scored 19 from his first three times at bat, Hack has bounced back with a couple of 30-run hauls seeing him lead North’s run scoring.
Jordan Vella however, has done quite the opposite with the all-rounder having started the season with a plurality of runs before hitting a cold patch to end 2015.
Lachlan Harvey has been patchy but when he’s be on, he’s batted well.
North just needs that one game where they all click and a big total is scored and from there, they may be able to revive their season.
On the bowling side of things, Vella has been the man.
His eight wickets put him as the premiere wicket taker for his side with Kieren McEvoy and Hack also putting in the hard yards with five each.
The young blood of Bailey Shepherd and Nash Mitchell has given the North attack some moxie and grit throughout the season’s first half and will likely prove vital in the do or die games against South that the side is likely to play.
In the one game Howard has played for the blue and white, he claimed three wickets and cracked 68 runs and almost managed to save his side from defeat against the Roos.
His fellow teammates will be hoping he can get a few free Saturdays to play a bit more in 2016.