2021/22 Men’s Premier Cricket Wrap: Casey-South Melbourne
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.
The Casey-South Melbourne Swans were a contender for much of the home and away fixture, and lifted those claims in the postseason. After finishing inside the top-four at the beginning of the finals, the Swans delivered one of the upsets of the season and took down the ladder-leaders to advance to the preliminary matchup, and then in turn the grand final. While they were bested by Carlton in the big dance, it was still a terrific effort from Casey-South Melbourne, taking its game up a notch in the last few weeks and producing a winning style of play.
Things were looking a bit shaky for the Swans to start the season, losing two of its first three games, albeit against tough opposition. However, they managed to turn things around from this point, and lost just three more games for the rest of the fixture. Casey-South Melbourne had some big wins in season 2021/22, and managed to push its way into the top four in the back half of the year. Finishing with a record of 10-5 was good enough for fourth spot, and when they took down St. Kilda in the first week of finals, the Swans looked a genuine chance of winning it all. A prelim final victory over Richmond only furthered these claims, but unfortunately, Carlton was too good.
It is nearly impossible to go past the qualifying final victory over St. Kilda, who were dominant for most of the home and away fixture. The Swans were clearly the underdogs, given their opponents were the favourites for the flag, but that is not how things panned out. Instead, Casey-South Melbourne produced a marvellous performance with ball in hand, holding the minor premiers to just 116 runs, their lowest of the season. While their batting lineup did not astound by any means, the low required score meant the Swans could still get the job done.
As displayed in the match above, their bowling lineup was the most important facet of their game, and leading the way was Ruwantha Kellepotha. The leg-spinner bamboozled batsmen for the entire season, and took a league-high 37 wickets, five more than any other player. With a season-best score of 5/25 and an economy rate of 3.38, he was the most influential and impactful bowler in the entire competition for 2021/22.
There is not too much for the Swans to improve on next year, given how successful their 2021/22 campaign proved to be. Perhaps a bit more firepower at the top end of the batting order, as three of their top order only managed to not surpass 17 runs in the grand final. However, the team is certainly around the mark moving forward, and could win it all in the next few seasons.