2021/22 Men’s Premier Cricket Wrap: 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.
For much of the season, the Melbourne Demons were one of the sides to beat, displaying some excellent form throughout their home and away campaign. The Demons managed to consistently find themselves etched inside the top-four and finished in there at the end of the regular season fixture. Losing just three of their 16 games, Melbourne was one of the true contenders for season 2021/22. However, the Demons could not complete the job in the postseason, finding themselves knocked out in straight sets and finishing a promising campaign in disappointing style.
The Demons won their opening two games, including a matchup against eventual grand finalists Casey-South Melbourne. However, they were brought back down to earth by a rampaging St Kilda side, who handed Melbourne its first loss of the season. Bouncing back with a three-game winning streak, the Demons got things back on track for the remainder of the season, losing just two more games and producing a winning style of play. It eventuated that 11 wins was good enough for third spot in the standings at the conclusion of the home and away season, and they faced off against Carlton in the qualifying final. Unfortunately, the Blues were too good, and Melbourne was sent to a do-or-die clash in the semi’s. To make things worse, Richmond was in a serious amount of form, and got the best of the Demons, ending their season in straight sets.
Round 9 saw the Demons take on Northcote, who were performing well themselves, with both sides inside the top-four at the time of the contest. It was a highly anticipated battle that ended up living up to the hype, with Melbourne overcoming a strong batting performance from the opposition to claim a 33-run triumph. It was one of the best performances at the crease all season from the Demons, on the back of 124 runs from Jack Harper, who put the side on his back after the openers were dismissed in no time. Melbourne managed to produce 275 runs, which was far too much for Northcote, as the Demons cemented their name in the conversation of contenders.
The win over Northcote was far from a flash in the pan from Harper, who was Melbourne’s best and most consistent performer. Across his 16 outings, he averaged 51 runs, and scored the sixth-most of anyone in the competition. Whenever the Demons needed a steadying presence, Harper was the man, proving cool, calm and collected whenever at the crease. As discussed above, the ceiling was no issue for the top-end batsman, who showed an ability to hit triple-figures. He delivered a number of match-winning performances throughout season 2021/22, and was the best player throughout their entire campaign.
While it was a strong performance for much of the season for the Demons, there is still room for improvement, and that was displayed in their two finals losses. Some more consistency from their openers would have helped, given they were dismissed early a few times throughout the year, while their bowlers could have done a bit more damage on the big stage in the postseason.