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By Richard Millott

After a tumultuous off-season of Covid restrictions limiting community sport, along with a false start last week, action kicked off in the Ferntree Gully & District Cricket Association this week with a number of highlights to emphasise one of Melbourne’s quality cricketing competitions.

It was a premier performance from Nathan Walsh for the Premiers Lysterfield in the matchup against Knox Gardens at Lakesfield Reserve. Coming in at 1/22, Walsh put on another masterclass at the crease, batting through with Cohen McElroy to put on a 93-run stand for the third wicket to be 3/126. Walsh carried on, eventually carrying the bat through to an unbeaten century as the Beavers set 6/229 from their 40 overs. In response, the Falcons were well provided by Spencer Stuckey with 58 and Pete Dunlop with 47. Jake Carter lead the way with the ball, claiming 4/11 from his 8 overs to keep the visitors to 168. Knox Garden’s play host to newcomers South Belgrave next week, whilst Lysterfield welcome Johnson Park to Lakesfield.

At Pickett Reserve, Ferntree Gully Footballers were sent in by Belgrave and hit the scoreboard, with Harry Brown and Lachlan Storey posting a century stand to begin the season. Brown was the first bat out for 30, the scoreboard reading 1/105 as Storey plundered the Magpie attack. Storey was the highlight of the innings, scoring 88 from 100 balls including 5 sixes and 7 fours to lead the hosts to 6/201. With the ball, Ronan Culloty was pick of the attack claiming 3/35. The Belgrave reply was equally to the challenge with the top order scoring lead by Aaron Brunner (43). Jordon King (30) was next to feature at the crease however both runs and wickets were shared as the Magpies ended the day 46 runs short at 6/155. Ferntree Gully Footballers take on Upwey up the hill next week, whilst for Belgrave it’s a trip to The Basin to take on the Bears.

Up at Upwey, it was literally a case of “Son of a Gun” for the Tigers as Nathan Lee – son of FTGDCA legend Stephen – put in an all-round effort to help Upwey past the line against Knoxfield. Upwey took to the crease first with Jules Whetstone (33) leading the way early. With the score at 4/61, Lee began to go to work before falling short of a debut half century on 49. The Knights bowlers claimed wickets around Lee’s efforts, with Matt Plumridge (3/20) the lead attack for the Knights as Upwey reached 161 before being dismissed. In reply, the Knights had starts however could not find one to go on – the closest being Jesse Barker (32). Likewise the Tiger bowlers shared wickets around, with Lee the best figures with 2/14. Upwey play host to Ferntree Gully Footballers next week, whilst for Knoxfield a trip to Wally Tew to meet Ferntree Gully awaits.

There was no signs of partying too hard from South Belgrave in their step up to Norm Reeves Shield, with a first-up win over Johnson Park at Belgrave South. The Sharks won the toss and elected to take first use of the crease, a decision justified as Steve Devenish (44), Daniel Snell (43) and Aman Vekaria (43) all getting amongst the runs to take the visitors to 6/162. For the South bowlers, Jake Lawson was the lead of the attack, claiming 3/24 from 8 overs. Jordan McDermott lead the charge with the willow for South, his 60 being invaluable to the home side despite the efforts of James Hill (4/28 from 8 overs). The hosts brought up the first win of the campaign in the 33rd over at 6/164, and will look to double when taking on Knox Gardens away next week. Meanwhile, Johnson Park travel to a matchup against Lysterfield.

Ferntree Gully notched up a first-start win over The Basin at Wally Tew. Winning the toss and electing to bat, the Bears were off well with Trent Phillips away to help take the opening stand to 1/103. A Blues fightback with the ball ensued, including the wicket of Phillips for 67. Jayden Turcinovic helped provide a second-wind at the crease for the visitors, his 50 helping to lead The Basin to 7/205 at the close of innings. In reply, the Blues constructed a dominant showing at the crease, with Paul Jefimenko a force at the top order with 87, followed after by Jake Toohey with 70 not out to bring up an opening 7-wicket win in the 38th over. The Blues will look to double down against Knoxfield next week, whilst The Basin will look ahead to their matchup at home against Belgrave.

In Decoite Shield action, Eildon Park held on in a low-scoring nail-biting finish against Upper Ferntree Gully. The Panthers elected to bat first however struggled to find time at the crease after the first wicket fell at 1/44, with a collapse of 6/14 curtailing the ambitions of the top and middle orders. Mike Rouskas (3/16 from 8 overs) lead the way with the ball for the Kings to dismiss Eildon Park for 102. However a low total would provide high drama as the King’s chase was hampered through the top order also. Nathan Caton (3/13 off 8 overs) would be pivotal to keep the score down as the visitors sat at 4/46. In a see-sawing afternoon, another 30 runs added for the Kings would see them hold the upper hand, before a flurry of wickets put the Panthers on terms. The tail order wagged towards the target, however the Kings were to be deprived being all out for 97. The Panthers will look towards their next match at home against Mountain Gate, whilst Upper Ferntree Gully will look to avenge against Rowville at Dobson Park.

It was a batsmans’ paradise at Knox Gardens Reserve, with several scores on both sides during St Johns Tecoma’s win over Knox Gardens. Kyle Chandler (37) and Jake Sali (71) got the Saints off to the dream start to take the score to 2/130. Aaron Grenda and Callum Craigie then took the scoring to another level, the duo plundering in a white-ball blitz. Grenda ended on 55 not out from just 33 balls – 6 fours and a six, whilst Craigie 42 from 34 balls. The end total for the Saints being 3/237 in applying scoreboard pressure early. Despite the target, the hosts were not to be outdone, with Tyler Voulanas (53), Jackson Marget (58) and Jay Wagner (43) all putting in efforts to provide entertaining viewing. Kyle Grenda again played a part, leading the bowling attack for the visitors claiming 3/30 as the Falcons reached 8/193 at days’ end. St Johns Tecoma travel to Monbulk next week in an early-season crunch-match, whilst Knox Gardens head up to Olinda.

Monbulk posted a comprehensive 10-wicket win over Olinda. Batting first, Olinda were unable to get a start at the crease with the Hawk attack being persuaded by Jordan Wilkinson (3/26 from 7.4 overs), Shane Cosstick (3/18 from 8 overs) and Joel Wensley (3/9 from 4 overs). The hosts batted through before being dismissed with 119 on the board. In reply, Jason Fraser (48 not out) and Justin Creed (63 not out) ensured a dominant win without loss, passing 0/121 in the 36th over. Olinda’s attention now turns towards hosting Knox Gardens, whilst Monbulk will seek an early break over a fellow contender in St Johns Tecoma.

Rowville proved too strong for Mountain Gate at HV Jones Reserve, the Hawks running out 103-run winners on the back of James Rogers providing a magnificent all-round effort. Being sent in first, Rogers (52) and Chanaka Gunawardana (41) provided for the Hawks with the score at 1/99 at the 20 over mark. However the Gator bowlers fought back in the second half of the innings, lead by Pete Castledine (3/29 from 8 overs) to keep the visitors to 8/185. In response however, only skipper Mitch Goddard (38) fired as the Hawks attack – lead by Rogers claiming 3/7 from 8 overs – skittled the hosts for 82. The Gators will look to turn around their form when they meet Eildon Park away, whilst Rowville will take on Upper Ferntree Gully at Dobson Park.


Provisional Ladder (After Round 2) – Norm Reeves Shield

UPWEY-TECOMA – 6PTS (1.238%)
South Belgrave – 6pts (1.012%)
Johnson Park – 0pts (0.988%)
Knoxfield – 0pts (0.807%)
Belgrave – 0pts (0.771%)
The Basin – 0pts (0.566%)
Knox Gardens – 0pts (0.440%)


Provisional Ladder (After Round 2) – Decoite Shield

ROWVILLE – 6PTS (2.820%)
EILDON PARK – 6PTS (1.085%)
Upper FTG – 0pts (0.951%)
Mt Gate – 0pts (0.355%)
Knox Gardens – 0pts (0.305%)
Olinda – 0pts (N/A)

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