7 things we learnt from this year’s cricket season

WITH the 2019/2020 Gympie Regional Cricket Association grand final being played tomorrow, the time seems right to reflect on what we’ve learnt from our local teams this season.

1. The cricketing community has a big heart

After seeing the devastation that the bushfires caused around the nation, Kenilworth’s Steve Ledger and Kelvin Cochrane organised a fundraiser and T10 match to raise money for the Lobethal Bushfire recovery fund.

Kenilworth Cricket Club – Steve Ledger and Kelvin Cochrane with some of the prizes up for grabs in the online raffle.
Kenilworth Cricket Club – Steve Ledger and Kelvin Cochrane with some of the prizes up for grabs in the online raffle.

Ledger was aiming to raise $10,000 and the amount raised easily exceeded that, at $11,953.05.

There were hundreds of prizes and items donated from individuals and businesses from the Gympie region which were sold in a live auction.

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A decent crowd descended on the cricket ovals in the name of charity to donate money and get behind the cause.

Kelvin Cochrane with the Mitchell Johnson signed ball which was one of the top items auctioned.
Kelvin Cochrane with the Mitchell Johnson signed ball which was one of the top items auctioned.

Sporting clubs are bigger than the game. They are there for the community and that certainly showed.

2. Murgon is the benchmark

It is no surprise Murgon is in the grand final again this season.

The minor premiers have been the ones to beat for a few years, they have the ability to play strongly in all aspects of the game.

Murgon's Jason Webber celebrates a century.
Murgon's Jason Webber celebrates a century.

With a decent XI ready for action almost each week, they were the first team to go through to the grand final.

Gympie’s Colts secured the remaining spot last Saturday, setting up a replay of last year’s grand final.

Murgon was in a similar position last season, winning the minor premiership and going to the grand final but then coming undone in the last match.

Will this year be different?

Murgon all-rounder Ashley Sippel in action against the Colts
Murgon all-rounder Ashley Sippel in action against the Colts

Batsman Jason Webber was second on the list of Gympie Regional Cricket Association’s top performing batsmen with 425 runs this season.

Dwayne Malone was third with 402 runs and captain Ashley ‘Lizard’ Sippel was fifth with365 runs.

Dwayne Malone was this season’s third highest scoring batsman in the Gympie Association.
Dwayne Malone was this season’s third highest scoring batsman in the Gympie Association.

Lizard is third on the champion players list and Webber eighth.

On paper, Murgon has the depth in its batting and bowling line-up to enable the team to fire, but anything can happen in a grand final.

3. Kenilworth, the dark horse

In their inaugural season, nobody really knew what to expect from the Kenilworth XI but they were certainly the dark horse in the finals race despite going down to Colts last Saturday.

They finished third and while it was a bit of a rocky start, Kenilworth got their act together as the season went on.

Kenilworth celebrate a wicket against the Colts. Picture: Shane Zahner
Kenilworth celebrate a wicket against the Colts. Picture: Shane Zahner

Skipper Steve Ledge fired almost weekly, the times where he failed to get runs Kenilworth would be bowled cheaply.

He is the Gympie Regional Cricket Association’s top batsman, with 703 runs and he is the champion player on 170.30 points, clearing his teammate Jason Woods in second place by 55.10 points.

Kenilworth's Jason Woods. Picture: Shane Zahner
Kenilworth's Jason Woods. Picture: Shane Zahner

It could have been finals nerves but I certainly think they’ve would have had what it took to bring down the powerhouse that is Murgon in the grand final.

We will have to wait until the next season starts in September.

4. Colts have a strong bowling attack

It may seem like an obvious statement but it has been proven on numerous occasions this season.

Last weekend the side played Kenilworth for a berth in the grand final.

Kenilworth seemed to be in prime position 2/96 after about 20 overs. With captain and star batsman Steve Ledger leading the charge, Colts needed a breakthrough.

Sam Lang opening the bowling for Colts last weekend. Picture: Shane Zahner
Sam Lang opening the bowling for Colts last weekend. Picture: Shane Zahner

That came when the two threatening batsmen Ledger and Jason Woods were sent to the sheds.

Brandon Sauer got Ledger for 65 and Sam Lang took Woods for 28.

Colts are bolstered by the likes of Lang, Chris Hughes, Sauer, Anthony Smerdon and Andrew ‘Chappy’ Mallett. It is no surprise they’ve been able to defend low totals.

Colts spinner Andrew 'Chappy' Mallett.
Colts spinner Andrew 'Chappy' Mallett.

Lang and Chappy were two of the nine names on Gympie’s elite cricketers list this season.

They are playing for a back-to-back Gympie cricket title and should not be underestimated against Murgon tomorrow.

5. Harlequins lack depth in their batting line-up

They might have finished in the top four but the Harlequins batsmen were certainly not consistent this season.

Club president and A-grade captain Shaun Ringuet said in the club’s season preview “our batting is usually our strength because we can bat from one to 11”.

Shaun Ringuet
Shaun Ringuet

A lot changed for the club since the start of the season.

The struggle for numbers and batsmen finding form certainly put a strain on the side.

While the batsmen struggled, it was the bowlers who led the charge.

The club’s two best bowlers were Mackenzie Reen and Danny Shepperson, who both made the list of Gympie’s best cricketers.

Daniel Shepperson and Mackenzie Reen
Daniel Shepperson and Mackenzie Reen

The side was bowled out for 85 round 8, losing to Valleys, 87 round 14, losing to Colts, 69 round 17, losing to Wests and 64 round 18, losing to Valleys.

Some of the senior players and leaders in the side need to get some runs on the board for next season.

6. Wests are in trouble

Once one of the elite clubs in Gympie, today they are struggling to get off the bottom of the ladder and be competitive in A-grade.

They have been in a rebuild stage for two years, but the results are not showing just yet.

Wests new captain Anthony Brogden
Wests new captain Anthony Brogden

The side recorded just two wins this year and if I were a fan, I would be expecting answers.

We can sit here speculating on the extenuating circumstances, but one thing is certain, something needs to change.

All-rounder Anthony Brogden came in eighth on Gympie’s top cricketers list and was given the captaincy in November, but Grant Weller soon took back the reins as the team continued to lack form.

Wests Grant Weller.
Wests Grant Weller.

Despite the all-rounders within the side, there was no strong batsman apart from Andre Cave, who was another of the elite 9, who had Gympie Gold duty.

Moving forward, Brogden should be given back the captaincy and confidence from the team.

The young guns in the club should be nurtured and the senior players need to step up and fire.

Gympie Gold and Wests Cricketer Andre Cave
Gympie Gold and Wests Cricketer Andre Cave

All eyes will be on Wests next year to see if they can produce some decent cricket, be consistent and record some more wins.

7. Valley’s lack strong all-rounders

There are a few good bowlers but Valleys have lacked all-rounder depth this season.

They are desperately in need of players who can bowl and bat for the full 40 overs.

Shane Walker in action at the crease. Photo – Zahner Photography
Shane Walker in action at the crease. Photo – Zahner Photography

Captain Shane Walker was on the elite Gympie cricketers list but he is not a bowler and cannot be expected to make the winning runs each week.

Rod Venn took 24 wickets and was seventh on the top performing bowlers list, and Dane Steifvater came in at number 12.

Valleys Dane Steifvater.
Valleys Dane Steifvater.

The seniors of the club have been feeling the brunt, and the gap between the seniors and younger players is widening.

As the off-season has been in play for a few weeks they need to try to recruit some players with the ability to bat and bowl.

Valleys Rod Venn. Photo: Zahner Photography
Valleys Rod Venn. Photo: Zahner Photography

They are not in the same boat as Wests but if this continues they might have to start considering whether they have the ability to produce an A-grade and B-grade team.