2021/22 Men’s Premier Cricket Wrap: St Kilda
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 end to the season for the St Kilda Cricket Club, who led all season but could not make the big dance. For the entire home and away fixture, the Saints were the best side in the competition, delivering dominant performances on a weekly basis with both ball and bat. They were heavy favourites for the flag coming into the finals, but could not back up these expectations in the postseason. A couple of losses saw St Kilda eliminated in the preliminary week, but there was still a lot to like about their 2021/22 campaign.
The Saints could not have started the season any better, storming to the top of the standings with an unbeaten record. They remained the only side without a loss for the first 12 rounds of the season. That streak was broken when the Saints were upset by Richmond in Round 13, but it was a small speed bump as they did not lose another game until the end of the season. With a record of 14 wins and one loss, St Kilda easily finished atop the standings, but unfortunately fell to Richmond in the qualifying finals. They managed to bounce back against Footscray, but fell again to Carlton in the prelims and finished the season a bit earlier than they would have liked.
With their backs against the wall courtesy of a qualifying final loss to Richmond, the Saints bounced back in the semi finals with an impressive win over a gutsy Footscray outfit. When St Kilda batted first and set the total at 284 (thanks to a 139-run effort from Jono Merlo), it looked extremely likely to emerge winners. However, Footscray began to fire with bat in hand, and if not for a lift from the Saints’ bowlers, would’ve got overrun, but in the end, they dismissed the entire opposition batting lineup to advance to the following week.
While batsman Adam Crosthwaite impressed with over 50 runs per game, we have to give the award to bowler Todd Murphy, who led a rampant attack throughout the season. St Kilda’s biggest strength came in the form of its ability to dismiss the opposition batting lineup, and Murphy was at the forefront of this. With a team-high 27 wickets on the season, he was able to find the breakthrough wicket plenty of times. A season-high performance of 5/32 showed an ability to tear through an entire lineup in what was a consistent season.
There is not too much the Saints will need to improve on next season, given how dominant they were for most of the season. It was simply a late-season drop off on both sides of the game that cost them, so if they are around the same mark next year, they may be able to get over the line.