Hawks flex muscles once again

Hallam Kalora Park celebrates an early Berwick wicket in the grand final rematch. 259754 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Nick Creely



It felt like an eternity ago that Hallam Kalora Park reigned supreme over the DDCA Turf 1 competition and clinched the 2020/21 premiership on that golden grand final day in March.

But considering all that has been endured since then, there would be a lot of question marks about just how this season would play out, especially with rampant weather almost playing its part to ruin the season opening round of cricket again.

But one thing is for certain – these premiership Hawks are looking primed for another big Turf 1 campaign, overcoming Berwick in the grand final rematch at the same Frawley Road venue that they lifted the cup up only months earlier.

The Bears batted first after winning the toss, with a number of changes from its grand final lineup last season, with three class cricketers – Andrew Perrin, Damith Mapa Ralage and Riley Siwes – bolstering the group.

But seamer Will Whyte (2/13) had the early say on proceedings, weaving some magic with the new ball to leave the visitors struggling at 2/12.

While the Bears struggled to counter the new-ball and tick the scoreboard over, Lachie Brown and Matt Chasemore fought hard to wrestle back some momentum,

It wasn’t exactly fluent, more gritty batting that got the visitors on track, but two quick strikes, Brown for a well-made 35 and Chasemore for 22 – both LBW – had the Hawks ready to swoop.

Mapa Ralage in his first game since crossing over from Mordialloc – where he enjoyed a stellar career – showcased his experience, absorbing the pressure to get the Bears going.

His 39 from 64 balls proved crucial, combining with Matt Robertson (21) and skipper James Wilcock (33 from 27 balls) to lift the Bears to 8/168.

Leigh Booth (3/69) was expensive but snared vital wickets, Whyte was the catalyst early, while skipper Jordan Hammond (2/22) was typically stump-to-stump and gave nothing away.

While the Bears found themselves in a strong position – removing the Hawks’ top three to leave the home side 3/32 – class and experience came to the fore.

In a match-defining partnership, Matt Cox (58) and Jordan Hammond (57) grinded out 101 runs between them, setting up the Hawks to find the runs with four balls to spare, and the perfect start to their premiership defence.

It was a thriller at Strathaird Recreation Reserve as Vineth Jayasuriya Arachchige (61) proved the hero in Narre South’s one-wicket win against North Dandenong.

The Lions were set 145 after a lone-hand from star Maroons skipper Clay McCartney (78), with McCartney spanking seven fours and three sixes despite wickets tumbling around him.

The classy Maroons batter faced 92 balls in his brilliant half-century.

Tim Phillips (4/17) and Kirk Dickson (3/41) were superb for the Lions with the ball, while Jayasuriya Arachchige (2/21) also chimed in with a few wickets.

The Maroons looked almost certain for victory after bundling out the Lions’ top order and leaving them 5/44 and with Javed Khan (4/29) absolutely dominating.

But Jayasuriya Arachchige kept his head, compiling a class half-century despite the pressure mounting.

He eventually fell with 15 runs still in hand, but the Lions held on with Tim Phillips striking the winning runs with just a wicket left in the shed.

And Akshat Buch has starred for Springvale South in a comfortable opening round win against Narre Warren.

The left-arm tweaker spun the Bloods to victory with a haul of 5/33 as he crossed 30 wickets in just his first 14 games for the club.

The Bloods earlier set the reigning Turf 2 premiers 186 for victory after fine knocks from Jack Sketcher (50) and recruit Blade Baxter (42).

Buch proved almost unplayable in his 12 overs as the Magpies were bundled out for 110 but showed promising signs with bat and ball.

In the remaining match, Buckley Ridges (7/176) overcame a late scare to bank an opening round win against St Mary’s (7/164), with champion all-rounder Michael Davies proving the difference with 30 and 3/49.