By Tyler Lewis
VICTORIAN PREMIER CRICKET
SEASON PREVIEW – DANDENONG
PRESIDENT: Gary Davidson
COACH: Nick Speak
CAPTAIN: Tom Donnell
HOME BASE: Shepley Oval, Dandenong
LAST SEASON: 4th (9 wins, 5 losses, 3 draws, by Fitzroy-Doncaster)
MOST RUNS 18/19: Brett Forsyth (984 runs at 70.29, HS 168 not out, 3 100s, 6 50s)
MOST WICKETS 18/19: James Nanopoulos (33 wickets at 19.33, BB 4/73)
INS: Gehan Seneviratne (Carlton), Suraj Randiv (Heinz Southern Districts), Triyan De Silva (Monash Tigers)
OUTS: Adam McMaster (Melbourne), James Wilcock (Berwick), Darren Pattinson (retired), Paddy Turner (Gold Coast)
STRENGTHS: The outlying strength for the Panthers is not just the batting depth, but the merely unstoppable opening pair. Last season, the opening pair accumulated 1,059 at an average of 62.29, passing 50 without the loss of a wicket eight times and 100 three times. Brett Forsyth’s hunger for runs at the top never wavered but what made the Panthers so destructive was Forsyth’s combination with skipper Tom Donnell. Donnell had one of his more impressive seasons of late which was capped off with a monster knock in the elimination final when his side needed it the most. With Shepley being one of the more batting friendly venues in the competition, the Panthers are to be credited to playing to their strength. A break out year from highly-talented batsman Ed Newman in the top order would relieve the pressure of the openers and make the Panthers a damaging side once again.
KEY AREA OF IMPROVEMENT: Despite being within the top end of wickets taken last season, the Panthers are coming into the season a lot bleaker with the ball than they have in the past. No one can fill the shoes of the retired Darren Pattinson, but the loss of McMaster, Wilcock and Turner leaves Dandenong searching for depth with the ball. Perhaps the Panthers take the spinner heavy approach with two spinners, or even three at times, but will need to find or develop a bowler to lead the attack with the brand new Kookaburra this season if they are to compete in the finals once again. The talent is certainly there, and there is enough experience to suggest that a repeat of the 2017/18 success is on the cards.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Comrey Edgeworth, Josh Slater, Ed Newman
FIRST GAME: vs Melbourne Uni, 5 October, 10am at Shepley Oval
LAST FIRST XI PREMIERSHIP: 2017/18
MOST IMPORTANT MATCH:
R4 vs Casey South Melbourne
Every clash in Premier Cricket is pivotal, but crosstown rivals Casey-South Melbourne are soaring and vying for a spot inside the top eight.
The Swans are most likely eyeing off the spot that was the Panthers’ last season – and with both batting dominant lineups, the contest threatens to be a run fest.
The Panthers can never be questioned, they always find a way to win.
Coming into the season lighter on bowlers than previous years, Dandenong will be forced to make big totals with bat in hand – a task their line-up has never had trouble completing.
James Pattinson featured in the navy and red for seven matches last season but his recent rise back into the Australian fast bowling ranks could see him miss the majority of the season for his beloved Panthers.
Promising young left-arm quick Triyan De Silva has also joined the Panthers to add to their bowling stocks from the Monash Tigers, where he played a handful of ones cricket, with skipper Tom Donnell recently hinting that the talented seamer would feature at first XI level at some point.
A strong bowling performance in the practice match against Melbourne where he took three wickets will unquestionably hold him in good stead for selection at some point.
English pacemen Josh Shaw will return to Shepley and will be standing at the top of his mark with intent to have a huge season when he returns to Australia.
But the Panthers are likely to be fairly spin heavy, meaning that they will probably be significantly different, especially in the bowling department.
The Panthers have an abundance of spin options, including Akshat Buch, Suraj Randiv and Gehan Seneviratne to choose from, with all three expected to feature heavily at times in the first XI in what should be extremely interesting to see how it all unfolds. But it remains to be seen just how spin heavy the Panthers will choose to go.
Brett Forsyth’s appetite for runs will undoubtedly entertain again, but for Dandenong to repeat their efforts of the 2017/18 season, Forsyth will need some support in the middle.
Big seasons from Ed Newman and Cameron Forsyth would make the Panthers a nightmare to bowl to and put Dandenong highest innings record of 406 in jeopardy if they bat first on a good wicket when red ball cricket comes around.
Newman notched up a century in the practice match against Melbourne only a few weeks before the season and looks to be set to be given plenty of chances to cash in on his abundance of talent.
Scoring 112 of the 201 team runs in the practice match, the youngster will be raring to go in Round One against Melbourne Uni.
Inspirational skipper Tom Donnell underwent surgery during the pre-season, and he is expected to be back as soon as possible for the Panthers. With some crucial matches early, wins on the board without the skipper will be pivotal for Dandenong.
ROUND ONE XI:
Brett Forsyth ©
Jacques Augustin (wk)
FIRST XI FIXTURE:
R1 vs Melbourne Uni, Shepley Oval, 5 October, 10:00am
R2 vs Footscray, Mervyn Hughes Oval, 12 October, 11:00am
R3 vs Northcote, Shepley Oval, 19 October, 11:00am
R4 vs Casey South-Melbourne, Casey Fields no.4, 20 October, 11:00am
R5 vs Geelong, Shepley Oval, 26 October – 2 November, 11:00am
R6 vs Essendon, Windy Hill, 9 November – 10 November, 11:00am
R7 vs Carlton, Shepley Oval, 16 November – 23 November, 11:00am
R8 vs Kingston Hawthorn, Shepley Oval, 30 November – 7 December, 11:00am
R9 vs Camberwell Magpies, Camberwell Sports Ground, 14 December – 21 December, 11:00am
R10 vs Fitzroy Doncaster, Schramms Reserve, 11 January, 11:00am
R11 vs Ringwood, Shepley Oval, 18 January, 11:00am
R12 vs Greenvale Kangaroos, Greenvale reserve, 25 January – 1 February, 11:00am
R13 vs Monash Tigers, Central Reserve North, 8 February – 9 February, 11:00am
R14 vs Melbourne, Shepley Oval, 15 February – 22 February, 11:00am
R15 vs St Kilda, Shepley Oval, 29 February – 9 March, 11:00am