With plenty of movement within club player hierarchy and having had no preseason competition to make assessments on their own and opposition strengths and weaknesses, there is a need for self- judgment based largely on candid magnitude of player improvement centred on out-of-season and pre-season activity.
A healthy sign prior to the opening round of the competition is that each club has been up and running for many weeks and the respective match-committee’s have been working on recruiting in a selective manner – identifying their deficiencies and going after southerners, and in a few instances, locals, in order to fill perceived playing voids.
Most have been working to recruit up to four interstaters and together with those who have been fortunate to entice players that have relocated to the Territory and those who have attracted players from other DDCC clubs, each will in time be hoping to step out in a better place than last season.
Season Format and Round 1 Preview
The 2021 season will revert to the seven-one day / seven-two day format and there is an array of day/night fixtures to be played at: DXC Arena, Gardens Oval and Cazalys Arena, and in a deserved accolade, Fred’s Pass has been renamed: Gerry Wood Oval.
Waratah won pretty much everything last season and are confident of again being a competition front-runner. It’s no secret that the red-caps had an upmarket top order batting array: Isaac Conway, James Seymour (who debuted for Victoria in their recent 50 over match against SA) and Ashley Chandrasinghe were a class act and each is expected to return although not for the early rounds. Similarly, opening bowling duo Samindra Madushan and Himesh Sandaradura are also expected to don the club colours. With Udara Weerasinghe still steering the ship, Tahs will again be a competitive unit.
Palmerston, runner-up last season, will look much the same with the addition of a number of recruits. On the debit side, they have lost the services of leftarm seamer Kieran Toner but picked up fast man Daniel McKell from Southern Districts. Toner was a prolific wicket taker last season and will be sorely missed.
The Maroon batting conundrum remains - where will high-volume runscorer and skipper Alex Bleakley place himself in the order? It’s highly likely he will maintain his place at five and while that works, an imperative is for the top four to make more of their opportunity and lay a solid foundation for him. Palmy’s bowling is adequate, especially if youngsters Cameron Hyde (when available) and Lucas Nitschke continue on their upward improvement curve – Hamish Martin had a poor season by his normal lofty standards last season and the ‘leftie’ will be keen to turn around his lack of wickets.
Districts have made changes to their on-field leadership and named Matt Hammond to replace Kierran Voelkl at the helm.
Districts were flying high last season but the batting wheels fell off at the business end and some soul searching during the off season determined that Hammond would take the onfield reigns.
The Crocs have an abundance of local talent with bowling being their strongest collective – like most teams however, their success may depend on a solid top order batting group.
Darwin has lost the services of reigning Ralph Wiese Medallist Luke Shelton but have an ideal replacement in Jacob Dickman as club captain. Shelton’s all-round abilities will be missed and while the Eagles relied heavily on him with both bat and ball, with Dickman committing for the season, his batting ability alone, is some consolation.
Some exciting news for the club is the possibility of big Kiwi all-rounder Harry Chamberlain returning – Chamberlain was unable to bowl during his last stint at the club, but his batting was outstanding and the few balls he did let go were decidedly quick.
Nightcliff has appointed Nash Sant as their on-field leader. The off-spinner has a sound knowledge of the game and the ability and temperament to educate players of all capability and ages to respect and enjoy both the playing and off-field activities.
They are pursuing the regulation four recruits, but 2020 run-machine Jacob Thorne will not be among them.
Nightcliff has faith in their group of local talent and together with the inclusion of interstate players, a competitive season is the expectation.
It’s fair to say that PINT was all over the place last year – when their batting was on song, 300 plus was not out of the question, but a distinct lack of bowling penetration was always going to haunt them.
The Greens have appointed Brad ‘Spud” Murphy as their coach, and in his second stint at the club, a stronger willingness to represent the green caps is expected. With Simon Lavers committing to playing Premier Grade for one more season together with four recruits including main run-getter Josh Neill, a more even performance, with some playing depth to ensure spots are earned, is the hope.
Tracy is realistic about where they are regarding playing stocks and while there were some murmurings about losing players to other clubs, it was inuendo only and they have retained the nucleus of a developing core.
The Villagers have committed to four players from interstate (Queensland, NSW and Victoria) and are excited at the prospect of them arriving and staying for the entire season.
“We invest in these players and for our return, we do want them to stay for the duration,” said club president Andrew Christianson.
“We recognise our deficient areas and have gone for a couple of all-rounders, a batsman and a ‘keeper.”
The club name has changed on occasions in the past, but that has never dampened the desire to forge a strong and proud history – recent seasons have been rather barren by comparison to golden days, but a solid administration is the foundation of an inevitable rise.
Rd 1 Fixture
Darwin v Southern Districts at Kahlin Oval (11am)
Palmerston v Waratah at Cazalys Arena (Day/Night 2pm)
PINT v Tracy Village at DXC Arena (Day/Night 2pm)