WARRNAMBOOL cricket is more even than it has been in living memory.
The Standard analyses how your club has performed through November and December and where its upside will come from as it pushes for finals.
Place: 10th (last)
Player of the season: Paddy Mahony
Positives: Gators captain Chris Bant has been pleased with his side's bowling ability through the short-form matches and his side has demostrated it can make runs with consecutive scores of 200 plus in recent weeks.
Negatives: Hasn't really been able to get results in those tight games, hence its position at the bottom of the ladder. Is the second-highest scoring team in the competition with 881 runs, a staggering statistic which shows how even the competition is. One-day cricket will punish those who can't see out games and with five games already played, the Gators are on the back foot even if they mount a revival in the second half of the season.
Is the second-highest scoring team in the competition with 881 runs, a staggering statistic which shows how even the competition is.- On Allansford-Panmure
Player of the season: Nathan Murphy
Positives: The Murphy brothers, Mark and Nathan, are a major positive. The duo have looked dangerous at times through the summer and are desperately needed to guide a young side through a bit of a rebuild. Kids like Will Colla, Daniel Hawkins and Matt Gome have also had good opportunities. Nathan Murphy is hitting the ball as well as he ever has.
Negatives: The Bulls have simply conceded too many runs. They've let 951 slip through which suggests batting teams have been able to get on top of them. They've had a rough run with injuries - perhaps their most economical bowler Jason Greer missed a chunk of games early with an injured foot - but tightening up is definitely needed if results are to improve.
Player of the season: Telge Peiris
Positives: The young guard. Dennington has been able to expose several youngsters to division one and is starting to reap rewards. Has been competitive under new captain Shannon Beks and vice-skipper Liam Couch, both of whom are still young. Tom Powell, Curran O'Donnell and Hamish Alexander are showing serious promise.
Negatives: There aren't a whole lot of negatives for the Dogs. The reality is, they're a young side in the midst of a rebuild. A lot of the pressure to make scores is falling on its Sri Lankan duo Telge Peiris and Thiwanka Ranasinghe, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. In one-day cricket, sometimes one or two to get going is all a team needs.
Player of the season: Marcus Bunney
Positives: A lot to like about Merrivale. A side with a clear plan who plays to its strengths. The Tigers' kids have come on and that has freed up star all-rounder Josh Stapleton to play a less pressurised role. Excellent in the field and generates pressure on opponents through saving runs. Merrivale isn't really reliant on one or two and that consistency and evenness is serving it well. The perfect start for Justin Lynch's men.
Negatives: Nothing particularly negative to note at Tigerland. Critics could say their bowling attack lacks firepower but realistically, what does that matter if results are falling their way and bowlers are playing a role? Theo Opperman filling a vital batting position in the order and Lynch is in strong middle order form. Not a lot of holes.
Player of the season: Jake Hetherington
Positives: Factory struggled with the bat this past season but seems to have fixed it up dramatically in 2021-22. Wil Hinkley has been an outstanding find, Geoff Williams has yet to hit hot form with the bat but is contributing with the ball. New skipper Jake Hetherington has also been inspired with the extra responsibility. Lots of big positives to take away.
Negatives: If anything, has found it a bit tough to restrict teams when bowling second. Bowling was traditionally Nestles' strength so it wouldn't be a major concern. Just needs to keep kicking on.
Player of the season: Kory Howlett
Positives: Lost some integral players in the winter but is still highly competitive. Howlett is more of a two-day batsman but has adapted his game well enough. Their best player - Nick Butters - hasn't yet hit form but that will be a positive for the newly-merged club. If you're winning when your best players are still finding their touch, you're doing something right.
Negatives: Hasn't hit dizzying heights with the bat and will be determined to fix that up heading into the second half of the campaign. Instead, individual class has helped it over the line and more evenness across the board will be key if it is to challenge for a premiership.
Player of the season: Aaron Williams
Positives: Has been an electric Twenty20 side despite losing two of its best bowlers, Jason Perera and Sam Wilson, in the off-season. Competitive despite losing captain Alex Jennings to a shoulder injury fairly early in the season. Ned Mabon appears to be a shrewd pick up and has filled in the gaps bowling-wise.
Negatives: With Jennings injured, the Pirates are dealing with a bit of a lack of depth through their bowling ranks. Covering Perera, a two-time cricketer of the year, was always going to be a challenge if not impossible and they've desperately missed his influence with bat and ball. More runs will also be high on the Pirates' wish list heading into 2022.
Player of the season: Cam Williams
Positives: It's been an up-and-down season for Russells Creek but the fact it's still well and truly in the hunt for a fourth premiership in five seasons speaks volumes for how talented its list is. Williams' form has been a major positive, both with the bat and behind the stumps. Star bowler Matthew Petherick hasn't bowled a load of overs due to injury early in the season but the fact they've been able to cover his place and not rely on him as the number one man is also good news.
Negatives: Batting depth and consistency remains Creek's biggest question heading into 2022. Do they have enough players capable of covering if Williams, Rukshan Weerasinghe or Shashan Silva is out early? When Creek gets going, it's hard to touch but the shift to one-day cricket has also brought the rest of the field that little bit closer.
Player of the season: Joe Higgins
Postives: Wow. There are a lot of good things happening for Wesley Yambuk. Predicted to finish well outside the top four as it rebuilt under Jason Mungean, the Beavers have shocked the WDCA with four wins and just one loss from their first five. Higgins has been rejuvenated as a spin bowler, Jason Mungean has been excellent with bat and ball and Zavier Mungean has been serviceable with the bat. There's a lot to like with kids also coming into their own on the back of solid division one opportunities.
Negatives: The biggest question surrounding Wesley Yambuk would probably be it's batting depth. Can the Beavers sustain their solid form with the stick, particularly if the top-order fails to fire? There aren't a lot of negatives to speak of, though, and the Walter Oval-based club will be keen to ride more momentum into 2022.
Player of the season: Ben Threlfall
Positives: A few experiments have yielded strong results and that's a major positive for the Panthers. Joe Nyikos has emerged as a wicket-taker to complement his status in the top-order, wicketkeeper Ryan Youl is enjoying more opportunities opening the batting and Tom Noonan is playing an important middle-to-lower order role with the bat after switching between division one and two this past season. There's a lot to like at West Warrnambool and talent-wise, the Panthers are capable of doing anything.
Negatives: Captain Ben Threlfall has been in exceptional form but the Panthers would be keen for more contributors with the bat to round out the side. Only Port Fairy has scored less runs. That said, West's runs conceded are low at 690. The Panthers can at times be a touch inconsistent and that'd be a focus heading into 2022.
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