By Nick Creely
HALLAM KALORA PARK (1st) v BERWICK (2nd)
Saturday 27 March, 12.30pm – Hallam Recreation Reserve, Hallam
PREVIOUSLY IN 2020/21:
Round 7: Hallam Kalora Park drew Berwick
Round 14: Berwick 5/229 (R Kellepotha 64, M Chasemore 45, J Binns 43*, J Cleland 32) defeated Hallam Kalora Park 7/210 (L Booth 86, M Cox 58, J Wilcock 3/44)
Semi-Final: Hallam Kalora Park 6/171 (B Hillard 64, J Hammond 47, R Kellepotha 3/49) defeated Berwick 128 (N Pilon 35, L Booth 3/3, W Whyte 3/33)
Hallam Kalora Park: 2001/02
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
HALLAM KALORA PARK
Jordan Hammond – 227 runs at 25.2, 20 wickets at 20.4
The Hawks skipper has built into a strong season with both bat and ball, and will be a major key throughout what is likely to be a high-scoring grand final. Hammond has combined with Will Whyte to be a dangerous new-ball combination this season, and with the bat the skipper provides both power and a steady hand through the middle order. A genuine match winner.
Leigh Booth – 435 runs at 36.3, 18 wickets at 14.7
It’s all come together for the champion all-rounder this season, with some outstanding match-winning displays with both bat and ball. Struck 86 against Berwick just a matter of weeks ago so is in red-hot form, while with the ball Booth has snared 16 wickets post-Christmas, and always has the knack of picking up a wicket when his team needs it. If the Hawks are to claim premiership glory, expect Booth to be right at the forefront.
Matthew Chasemore – 472 runs at 52.4, 3 wickets at 50
There are few more respected or consistent players in the entire association than Berwick’s champion skipper. There are also few who put a bigger prize on their wicket over such a long period of time. It’s what makes Chasemore arguably the most important player in the grand final. If he digs in, and others can score heavily around him, the Bears are almost unstoppable. Has also bowled more in recent weeks and is always good for a wicket.
Ruwantha Kellepotha – 353 runs at 39.2, 40 wickets at 11.5
The Wookey Medal winner has produced an absurd season for the Bears, topping 40 wickets and nearing 400 runs as he chases back-to-back flags since joining the club. He’s become the most dominant player in the competition this season, and in many ways the game could be decided by his spell of bowling. Kellepotha has taken three or more wickets on 10 occasions this season, as well as crunching three half-centuries, so you just know he will be a major player.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS….
The all-important toss is one to keep an eye on, that’s for sure. Out of seven Turf 1 games at Hallam Recreation Reserve in 2020/21, the side chasing has won on four occasions, including the first three games of the season. But the side defending has won the last two at the venue…
Hallam Kalora Park and Berwick have some of the most impressive sides on paper anywhere in local cricket, with a total of 11 players having played at first XI level in Victorian Premier Cricket, while there is four players that have played First Class cricket. But there’s even more star power and class outside of those players which is just as exciting.
In the last 15 Turf 1 matches between the club, Hallam Kalora Park and Berwick are split at 7-7, with one draw. It’s anyone’s guess how this one plays out.
MORE: The stage is well and truly set for Saturday’s Turf 1 grand final at Frawley Road between one club looking to break a 20-year premiership drought, while the other is looking to stamp itself as a modern day powerhouse with back-to-back flags.
Matthew Chasemore and Jordan Hammond’s sides are so power packed with star quality everywhere you look, and one thing is certain – it’ll be a game that is almost certain to go down to the final hour, and with little clue of which way it ultimately goes.
With the association completing its senior grand finals last weekend, expect a monster crowd to venture down to the picturesque Hallam Recreation Reserve, where the wicket has played absolutely beautifully this season.
The Bears’ biggest strength this season has been its batting, scoring over 300 more runs than the next best during the home-and-away season, and its come down to the depth within its ranks as well as the starpower of Matthew Chasemore, Nathan Pilon, Ruwantha Kellepotha, Jordan Cleland and the likes, while the Hawks have seen a golden season from Leigh Booth with the bat and major contributions from Matthew Cox, Ben Hillard, Jordan Hammond and Sachith Jayasingha that have held them in good stead.
But despite the likelihood that runs will flow and there will be plenty of excitement from the batting sides, don’t underestimate the quality that both sides possess with the ball – put simply, both bowling attacks have the depth, and the quality to completely take the game away.
Whether it be through the sharp pace of James Wilcock and Brendan Rose, or the cleverness of Jarrod Goodes to superstar Ruwantha Kellepotha’s leggies, the Bears are an unbelievably impressive bowling unit, while for the Hawks opening bowlers Jordan Hammond and Will Whyte have been superb, combining for 45 wickets and will fancy their chances of making early inroads.
The Hawks are an unbelievably tough side to beat on its home deck, and play the ground, the pitch and the conditions beautifully, but these Bears know they are just win away from what many teams simply can’t achieve – back-to-back premierships.
Bring. It. On.
SELECTED 12-MAN SQUADS (NOT IN BATTING ORDER)
HALLAM KALORA PARK
Jordan Hammond (capt)
Ciaron Connolly (wk)
Matthew Chasemore (capt)
Jordan Cleland (wk)
Note: Star News Group reporter Nick Creely will run a live blog throughout the day, head to www.dandenong.starcommunity.com.au/sport/2021-03-26/live-ddca-turf-1-grand-final-hallam-kalora-park-v-berwick/ from 10.30am onwards, with Casey Radio also broadcasting the match on 97.7FM