2021/22 Men’s Premier Cricket wrap: Northcote
WITH the Victorian Men’s Premier Cricket competition wrapped after an entertaining 2021/22 campaign, it is time to reflect on the season that was. Each team had a different journey over the last few months, so we take a look at how each side fared over the past six months.
For much of the season, the Northcote Dragons looked fairly likely to cement a spot inside the top-eight by the end of the home and away season. However, they could not continue their momentum into the back half of the season, eventually slipping down to ninth where they remained for the rest of their campaign. They had some impressive wins, and a nice record to match around the halfway point of the season. Some key personnel missing and a drop in form saw that form dwindle, and eventually fade, as a new batch of contenders announced themselves. The Dragons still had a chance to still sneak in, but fell to Footscray in the final round, with the latter taking fifth place and a spot in the postseason.
Northcote could not have started the season any better, winning six of its first seven games and storming to the top of the table with the likes of St. Kilda as a contender. Behind the efforts of an eye-catching batting order, the Dragons could post a winning score on a weekly basis with ease. Their next loss came against Melbourne in Round 9, and unfortunately they could not return to their early-season form that served them so well. They ended up losing seven of their last eight outings and fell down the ladder in dramatic fashion. It took right up until their final game, but eventually, the Dragons were booted from the eight and finished the season in ninth with a record of seven wins and eight losses.
Given how the season played out, a win over the prelim-finalists in Richmond looks pretty good on the Dragons’ record for 2021/22. Northcote batted first and as they did in most of the side’s wins, the batting order set the tone with a nice total of 241 runs. However, the season proved that it may not be enough, as there were some big scores throughout the fixture, and Richmond were a red-hot chance of chasing that down. The Dragons’ bowling order managed to step up in a big way, and dismiss their opponents just six runs short of the required total, and given there was still an over to play, it proved to be a match-winning effort.
As he was expected to do, batsman Jack Lalor was the standout and led the side in most of their triumphant performances. He has established himself as one of the premier batsmen the competition has to offer and it was in full display in season 2021/22. With an average of 52 runs over the span of 14 games, Lalor could attack the opposition bowlers no matter how they went at him, and often delivered some match-winning knocks. A season-high of 94 (not out) showed how high his ceiling is. Lalor’s form was often reflective of his side, and if the opposition could get him out early, it spelt trouble for the Dragons, which indicates his importance to the team.
A drop in form was the big issue for the Dragons, so there will be a few holes from the back half of the season that the team will be looking to address in the offseason. The biggest one will be pairing Lalor and teammate Mark Phelan (who was also impressive) with a solid foundation in the batting order. It is hard to fault the duo for their work throughout the year, but they were often left to do all of the heavy lifting when the top order collapsed, so expect the side to address their batting lineup in the coming months.