Round 9 – Day 1 Review / Day 2 Preview

Willow mastered leather for the most part on Day 1 but there is often an exception and that was the case at Cazalys Oval where Darwin bowlers had the better of the Palmerston batsmen. Batting first after winning the toss, the home side couldn’t handle the pace and guile of rejuvenated Eagle bowling duo Luke Zanchetta (4-46) and Troy Ryan (1-29) and crumbled to 6-69 until a middle / late order revival from Corey McDean (80) and Hamish Martin (40) halted the onslaught but it was short-lived and Palmy managed an unflattering 10-174 off 54 overs. Former club junior, Tom Andrews (2-15), returned to the bowling crease for the Eagles following his breakout season with the white-ball while playing for Tasmania, but he was hardly needed and sent down a mere five overs.

In reply, Darwin is 1-71 (22 overs) with Anthony Adlam (35 n.o.) and Harry Chamberlain (6 n.o.) at the crease. Unless there is another somewhat naive early halt to proceedings, it is the perfect opportunity for Darwin batsmen to showcase their talents against a moderate Maroon attack. Adlam aside, Chamberlain, Webster and Dickman need to settle into some form of batting rhythm and work towards setting a foundation for the remainder of the season. On the other hand, while Martin’s bowling has been outstanding, others in the undermanned Palmerston attack need to rally and provide support because the game is not lost, and the situation warrants a committed collective to give themselves a chance of victory.

All good in Top End cricket so nothing to grump about this week and for those anxiously waiting – sorry, there is no Hmmmm?  However, for what it’s worth: I wrote last week: “…. Districts’ batting revolves around Jackson Isakka and the all-round talents of skipper Matt Hammond ……” I just love it when a prognosis becomes a reality.

Sent into bat on the perfectly prepared Tracy Village Oval, Southern Districts was faltering at 4-102 and the decision to take to the field first looked to be well reasoned by the home side with Antum Naqvi (2-55) doing the early damage with the ball. But step up Isakka (123) and Hammond (84) and the pendulum slowly swung in the visitors favour – first in a watchful and then occasionally belligerent manner, the pair put on a well-structured 171 for the fifth wicket and at 8-309, it gives Districts bowlers some show even on the usually bat friendly, fast out-field at the Village Green.

That the run-chase can be achieved should be a clear belief for Village and with the emerging Jackson Edmondstone, Naqvi, the prolific Hugo Burdon and Josh Kann at the top of the order, the total is not beyond reach, but a brittle middle / late order needs rapid cure because that has been a downside to Tracy’s fortunes in an otherwise promising season. Districts bowling led by medium’s Isakka, Nathan Hangan and Chris McEvoy with Hammond and Dean Fry to provide the spin support may lack early penetration but has a steadiness and the variety to pressure any batting lines.

DXC Arena was another visually pleasing playing venue and the centre wicket although favouring batsmen was not without being bowler useful if effort was applied. Batting first after winning the toss, Tiger openers Joel Curtis (71) and Ryan McElduff (51) put on 122 for the first wicket before the partnership was broken by off-spinner Ushchitha Rajapaksha (2-58). Left-handed Curtis continued to display a talent for driving in the “v” particularly through mid-on to anything fullish while McElduff is more adventurous square of the wicket. McElduff has been an eye-opener for the Tigers and if criticism can be levelled, it is that he has scored four half centuries with a top of 55 – he was bowled by Rajapaksha attempting to hit a full ball square on the on-side. On the other hand, Curtis seems to bat within himself and plays wonderful “cricket” shots especially in front of the wicket. Nightcliff middle order again rallied and at 7-271, they accumulated a seemingly competitive total at the compulsory closure. Blade Baxter (3-87) and Tim Garner (2-45), while not appearing to ever be in command, was nevertheless a model of consistency throughout his 20 overs.

The total is not beyond the combined PINT batting talents and with the likes of Ben Speake, Cormac Hassett, Josh Neill, Garner and last round century maker Lachlan Bangs all finally showing glimpses of an improved approach – Garner aside because he has been the mainstay from the commencement of the season. Tiger bowlers led by McElduff and Nash Sant will need to be at the top of their game because a failure of the team this season has been an inability of the bowlers to capitalise on some generally solid batting. Some reason for optimism is that Nightcliff has included Sutherland Districts Cricket Club (NSW) tearaway Tushaar Garg for his first game of the season and although he has little recent match practice, based on 2020 DDCC form alone, his presence, aggression and wicket taking capacity may just prove to be a winning component. 

Round 9 Fixture - Saturday 12 and Saturday 19 June

PINT v Nightcliff at DXC Arena (11:30pm)

Palmerston v Darwin at Cazalys Oval (12:30pm)

Tracy Village v Southern Districts at Tracy Village Oval (12:30)

Bye: Waratah