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By Richard Millott

Ferntree Gully & District Cricket Association teams are featuring prominently on the ladders after the opening week of the Victorian Metropolitan Cricket Union Carnival for 2020.

In the Phil Arnold Shield, the Under 18s squad sit in an undefeated 2nd place after wins against Dandenong District and South East. The Dandenong saw the Gully recover from a horror start with the bat, being 4/7 before the middle and lower orders fired, with Liam Goodger leading the scoring with 57 to take the FTGDCA to 156. A tight tussle ensued before the bowlers took over proceedings, with Josh Langer claiming 4/14 alongside Jack Stockham (3/30) to dismiss Dandenong District for 103. Langer again proved himself with the ball against South East, claiming 4/24 to keep the visitors to 162. In reply, Ben Marget (51*) and Kieran Edwards (49) took charge of the chase, passing the target at 6/165. Langer is now the leading wicket-taker in the VMCU to date, with 8 wickets coming at just 4.75.

FTGDCA will take on Ringwood on Monday and Western Region on Tuesday before eyeing off a place in Thursday’s Semi Finals.

The Jim Beitzel Shield Under 16 squad continue to search for their opening win after competing against strong squads in their first three matches. The three matches to date – against Ringwood District, Inner South East and Dandenong District – have been against teams that currently top proceedings. Cameron Baker’s 3/21 against Ringwood District, Wes Wieclaw’s 78 against Inner South East and Harry Occhipinti’s 39 against Inner South East have provided highlights. The squad take on Mornington Peninsula at Bonbeach and Box Hill Reporter at Donvale on Tuesday to finish the Carnival.

Likewise in Keith Mackay, the Under 16s have shown plenty of promise against good competition, being on the wrong side of luck in a number of close matches. Defeats to Mornington Peninsular, North West Metropolitan, West Gippsland and Ringwood District have failed to dampen spirits in the team, with Matt Anderson showing plenty at the top of the batting order, whilst with the ball Zac Clarke has been in the wickets across the first week to be joint-leading wicket taker with 9 wickets at 6.67. The Mackay squad will take on Yarra Valley (Monday) and Diamond Valley (Tuesday) at Upwey to see out the Carnival.

In Russell Allen Sheild, the Under 14s sit in third after logging 3 wins in the first week. A first-up win over Inner South East started the campaign before a 23-run defeat against fellow leaders Ringwood District. The team returned to the winners list on Wednesday against West Gippsland and carried form through against Dandenong District. Nick Mackay scored 50 retired in the Inner South East match, whilst Jack Prendergast had a day out with the ball against Ringwood District, claiming 3/36. Jack Ratcliffe lead the chase from the top against Dandenong District, his 43 a catalyst to the win. FTGDCA will play Mornington Peninsula on Monday before a Qualifying Finals appearance on Tuesday to be decided.

In Des Nolan Cup, Ferntree Gully sit in 4th place with 2 wins from 3 starts. After a first-up hiccup against North West Metropolitan, the Gully posted strong wins against fellow Region 8 neighbours in Yarra Valley and Mornington to see through the week. Highlights to date include an unbeaten 61 not out to Noah Smith against Yarra Valley, as well as Xavier Kouris claiming 3/14 from 8 overs against Mornington Peninsula. FTGDCA will host South East on Monday before a Qualifying Final on Tuesday.

In Under 12s action, the FTGDCA sit in 6th place in the Keith Mitchell Shield after the opening week. Ringwood District claimed the points in the Carnival opener before a strong Inner South East showed their strengths on Tuesday. The Squad then turned their fortunes around with a big wins over West Gippsland and Dandenong District. Jackson Edwards has shown his batting prowess with scores of 42* (vs Ringwood District) and 46* (vs Dandenong District). Not to be outdone, Jishan Liyanage (75 ret not out), Sharad Kulkarni (49 ret not out) and Lachlan Baltruschaitis (45 ret not out) all produced big scores in their match against West Gippsland. With the ball, Declan Herridge leads the way with 6 wickets at 9.33, with best figures of 3/13 against Inner South East. The squad will host Mornington Peninsula at South Belgrave on Monday before a likely Qualifying Final on Tuesday.

The Josh Browne Plate Under 12 squad sit in 8th place and will look to jump further up the ladder to close out the regular matches. A thrilling 1-run win against Ringwood District started the Carnival in style before Yarra Valley and Eastern got the wood over in the following matches. Lucas Clausen hit 43 against Ringwood to help set up the target before George Tingay claimed 3/11 with the ball. As has been the case through the campaign, wickets and runs have been shared around the team equally in a balanced display against quality opposition. The team will look to secure their place in Tuesday’s Qualifying Finals by seeking points against South East on Monday.

Meanwhile, Week 2 signals the start of the Girls Competition, with FTGDCA fielding teams in the Julie Savage Shield (Under 14) and Claudia Fatone Shield (Under 12). The Under 14 team shall take on Dandenong District on Monday, host Box Hill Reporter on Tuesday and travel against Eastern CA on Wednesday for a spot in the Semi Finals. In Under 12s, FTGDCA will host Ringwood District, travel against Inner South East and then host South East on Wednesday as part of the group stage matches.

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