As expected, Darwin’s mammoth first innings score (8-486) was a mountain too high for Palmerston to scale and the Maroons were despatched for 220.
Playing a leading role during the early stages was fiery Eagle quick Jake Reed (2-50) and he was well supported by the more sedate pair Will Pilkington (3-39) and Luke Zanchetta (2-33) and although skipper Connor Hawkins (3-70) copped a bit of stick on occasions, his contribution could not be ignored.
Palmy’s middle-order batting hardly fired a shot but more of a concern was the team could only manage 45.5 overs at the crease and they passed top spot on the ladder to their immediate opponents without much of a batting whimper. Notable exceptions were Connor Blaxall-Hill (84) and a hard-hitting late-order blast from Harshtik Bimbral (40).
Waratah continued its winning run after beating Nightcliff by 85 runs at the Tiger’s home ground. Despite losing an early wicket, the home side persisted in their run chase but fell short because apart from Raveesh Srivastava (44) other top and middle-order batters couldn’t manage the same resilience and generally succumbed to LAO Dylan Hunter (7-74 from 21 overs).
Although avoiding consecutive outright defeats, Tracy Village were bold in defence against a rampant Southern Districts at Gerry Wood Oval. Chasing a moderate 140, Districts declared at 6-321 in its first dig with Xavier Crone (124) becoming the first Croc batter to score a Premier Grade century this season. Brodie Symons (90) continued with his efficient all-round form.
Batting again, the Villagers managed 9-189 with the consistent Josh Hoffman (82), again the best, when stumps were drawn. Some solid middle-order batting support accompanied Hoffman but a more dedicated stint at the crease should be a goal for Tracy batsmen where nearly all got starts but failed to capitalise.
Sam Kerber (4-36, 15 overs) almost single-handedly dragged his team to outright points although a couple of wickets each to Brodie Symons (2-19) and Matt Hammond (2-29) aided the cause.
Round 12 Day 1 – Preview
With three minor rounds remaining only seven points separates top and fifth position on the ladder and with three of those teams (Palmerston, Darwin and Nightcliff) having fixtured byes, the scramble is on to determine final four places.
Back in the top four at the expense of Nightcliff, Waratah face another challenge when they host new ladder leader Darwin at Gardens Oval. Tahs recent success has been on the back of batting excellence by Ashley Chandrasinghe, Isaac Conway and Jagadeswara Koduru and wicket taking dominance of bowlers Roby Lane and Sam Geyer and most recently Dylan Hunter.
However, a notable Red Cap deficiency is in both batting and bowling depth and against the very best, as they found in last season’s decider, opponents will work them over when the opening inevitably arises.
Interestingly, and last round aside, Darwin suffers from a similar malady whereby they rely heavily on a wonderful top batting order in Anthony Adlam, Dylan Brasher, Matt Calder and keeper/batsman Dhruv Kant. A comparable reliance on a few bowlers is also apparent and without the services of medium pacer Luke Zanchetta in the coming weeks, there is even more pressure on Jake Reed and Connor Hawkins to become more dominant with the ball because apart from the odd occasion, no others have displayed an ability to become serious wicket taking options.
Nightcliff has spilled out of the top four and Southern Districts came back with a vengeance last round after suffering a rare loss before their bye.
The Tigers have pretty much got all bases covered in the batting, but struggle to post clear match wining scores because of poor discipline rather than lack of talent and skill and until that is resolved they will struggle against all-comers at this crucial stage of the season.
On the other hand, the Rural men have rediscovered their cricket mojo at the right end of the season – Zavier Crone and especially Brodie Symons have injected an enormous amount of all-round ability into an already solid line up and if Cory Kelly can find a semblance of form with bat and ball, Districts have most positions covered.
Tracy Village’s season has been a roller coaster; they ended the 50-over competition with three consecutive wins and have made the T20 League competition final but by comparison have failed miserably in the red-ball game. It should be no secret that once the early season batting sensation Antum Naqvi had his wings clipped and reliance on Josh Hoffman and Reiley Mark with bat and ball respectively have been among the few highlights.
PINT has struggled in most areas of the game where apart from Nick Winter, Coby Edmondstone and the early season form of opening batsman Dhanusha Gamage they have little to show and their position on the ladder reflects that lack of competitiveness.
However, it is not all doom and gloom for the Greens because there have been occasions when its batting in particular has been up to the task but taking wickets has not. A positive attitude following the bye may just be the tonic required because with the poor recent form of the opposition this game could be the confidence booster that is clearly required.
Round 12 Fixture - Saturday 23 July and Saturday 30 July
PINT v Tracy Village at DXC Arena (12.30pm)
Waratah v Darwin at Gardens Oval (12.30pm)
Nightcliff v Southern Districts at Nightcliff Oval (12.30pm)