2021/22 Men’s Premier Cricket Wrap: Footscray
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.
It was a disappointing finish to season 2021/22 for the Footscray Bulldogs, who looked like doing some damage in the postseason for much of the home and away fixture. They were unfortunately dismissed in the second stage of the finals, which is a shame given how strongly they performed leading up to that point.
With a damaging batting order and a bowling attack that could rip a game apart at times, it looked like the Bulldogs could have a real shot at the premiership. There is still a bit for the side to improve on heading into 2022/23, but their success throughout the first part of the season shows that Footscray has a blueprint for success.
The Bulldogs kicked off the year with a bang, winning its first three games and climbing to the top of the standings. However, they were bested by an in-form Melbourne side, and the defeat kicked off a patch of inconsistency for Footscray. They finished the season with a record of nine wins and six losses, which was good enough for sixth spot on the ladder at the end of the home and away batch of games. The Bulldogs won their first final against Essendon, which they were expected to do. Unfortunately, the semi-finals saw Footscray bested by a vulnerable St Kilda side.
After being trumped by Essendon earlier in the season, the Bulldogs would have been thrilled to get over the line in the crucial elimination final matchup. The Bombers batted first and posted a decent score of 225, but Footscray rallied in the second half to chase the total down in just 31 overs. It was a serious display of batting power, led by a ton from top order batsman Travis Dean.
While bowler Max Birthisel was an excellent performer, it is hard to go past Dean Russ for the best performer of season 2021/22. The batsman was a pillar of consistency when at the crease for Footscray, finishing the season with an average of 56 runs per game. Despite the Bulldogs’ top order collapsing on a number of occasions, Russ was still able to stand up and help push his side to a defendable score. He displayed his ceiling with a season-high total of 94 runs, and was massive in getting the team to the semi finals.
Footscray will be looking for some more stability at the top order of the batting lineup in season 2022/23. It was a point of issue in a number of the Bulldogs’ losses, and will be a discussed area in the offseason. However, the side now knows that it can match it with the best, but will need to beat more top four sides next time around in order to be taken seriously.