2021/22 Men’s Premier Cricket Wrap: Carlton
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.
What a finish to the season it was for the Carlton Blues, storming home in the closing weeks to claim the premiership in remarkable fashion. A finish inside the top-four was never in doubt given how strong the Blues were throughout the 2021/22 season. They were always one of the strongest sides, with an extremely balanced lineup delivering success with both bat and ball. Securing second spot on the ladder at the end of the regular season fixture, Carlton was well-placed to have a real crack at the flag, but in their way was a dominant St Kilda side, who had been the best side all year. However, Carlton was able to down the ladder-leaders in the preliminary finals before emerging winners in the big dance to finish their campaign as premiers.
Carlton kicked off the year with a bang, quickly emerging as one of the contending sides and this was reflected with an unbeaten record after four games. However, the Blues were on the end of one of the biggest upsets of the season, shockingly falling to the Kangaroos, who were the worst side in the competition to that point in the year. Despite this result, Carlton bounced back in a big way, losing just one more game for the remainder of the season on their way to a top-two placing. In the finals, they stormed past any opponent they faced, including St Kilda. In the big dance, they were just too good for Casey-South Melbourne, and claimed a five-run triumph.
While their grand final triumph was most crucial, it is hard to look past their preliminary final win against St Kilda. Despite their opponents running rampant for much of the season and heading into the postseason as the flag favourites, it was the Blues that managed to deliver a dominant performance with both bat and ball, with the final margin sitting at 86 runs, as the Blues advanced to the big dance where they would also claim the chocolates.
While there was a number of candidates for the Rookie Me Central MVP award for the Blues, we could not pass up the efforts of batsman Harrison Smythe. He was the leader of the batting lineup, and often got Carlton to a winning score, thanks to a season average of 62.18 runs per game. A season-best score of 100 (not out) was a clear indicator of his ceiling, while consistency was never an issue as he frequently surpassed 50 runs.
A flag defence will be the only thing to worry about for the Blues in 2022/23. They showed that they were the best side in the competition when it mattered most, and if next year holds more of the same, Carlton will be well on track to repeat this effort.