The Lions are on the hunt

Despite scoring over 400 runs last season, we can supposedly expect more out of Kyle Hardy! 226241 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Tyler Lewis

A piece of Turf 1 silverware is yet to reach Strathaird Reserve but Narre South has recruited well and hopeful that season 2022/23 is the summer that changes history.

The Lions have lost guns Tim Phillips and Morteza Ali, but have since replaced the pair with Jeevan Mendis, Harry Finch and Zak Wilson.

Mendis will solidify the middle-order as well as frontline the spin stocks, while Finch will strengthen both batting and bowling.

Wilson, meanwhile, is a 6’9 opening bowler.

Narre South president Nathan Tracy was adamant on strengthening all areas after the departure of Ali and Phillips.

“The main target for us was identifying a bowler,” he said.

“With Tim (Phillips) leaving, we needed to get a bowler, that was our main target, realistically we looked at it and thought we needed to consolidate in a few areas.

“We needed to strengthen our spinners, we needed to strengthen our middle order and needed a fast bowler in – we had three areas we had to consolidate.

“We believe with Jeevan coming in, he will more than consolidate our spin bowling, he’ll also fit very nicely anywhere between four to six with the bat, which is super.

“Getting Finch from England has consolidated our fast bowling stocks.

“They say he’s a batting all-rounder, but there’s not much difference (ability with bat and ball), he bowls with good pace and he’s on the verge of getting contracts with the ECB.”

While he churned out 407 runs at 31.3 opening the batting last season, Tracy is also confident there will be more coming from skipper Kyle Hardy this season.

“We’ve retained the rest of our list, if anything we’re a bit stronger than last year,” he said.

“We wanted to find some experience in the top order and bringing that in will hopefully settle it down…we used a few different players as openers.

“We don’t believe we’re a one-day club, even though we have had some big hitters, we still believe we will be better off in two-day cricket.

“You will probably see the best out of Kyle this season.”

Tracy also admitted there is a sense of unfinished business after an ‘uncharacteristic’ finish to season 2021/22.

“I think the way we finished off last year was uncharacteristic,” he said.

“Given we had beaten three of the top four sides in the previous three or four weeks, I don’t know whether we went in complacent or Springy South had a good day, as it turns out they won the grand final, so we played a good side.

“But knowing who the other sides have picked up, I think you’ll find its going to be a pretty competitive top five or six.”

As for the contenders the Lions will have to deal with; reigning Turf 1 premier Springvale South has retained 10 of its 2021/22 premiership XI, losing just Akshat Buch back to Dandenong for another tilt at Vic Premier Cricket.

The Bloods have wasted no time in filling Buch’s shoes however, signing Yoshan Kumara.

Kumara played two seasons with the Bloods across 2013-2015, collecting an impressive 46 wickets.

The right-arm swing bowler famously won the 2013/14 Damien Fleming Medal by snaring a dazzling 9/60.

Kumara comes from Deer Park, where he gathered 55 wickets across two seasons.

Buckley Ridges, meanwhile, will undoubtedly be there once again when the whips are cracking.

The Bucks are boosted by the return of club legend DJ Watson and West Indian spearhead Jerome Jones.

At this stage, Nimesh Kariyawasam is the only departure from Park Oval, who will return to previous club North Dandenong.

Kariyawasam played the opening eight rounds in Turf 1, before finishing the year in the Turf 1 Reserves premiership side.

While it appears Buckley Ridges has concluded its silly season of recruiting, the Bucks are always full of surprises.

The return to red ball cricket will certainly be kind to Berwick, particularly with the signing of Jake Hancock.

Hancock departing Premier Cricket club Prahran to join the Bears was the worst kept secret in local cricket, nonetheless, the right-handed top order bat will add valued stability to the Berwick batting line-up.

The Bears will be without Matt Chasemore, who is recovering from a torn pectoral muscle.

The champion all-rounder had surgery during the pointy end of last season and while the recovery period is typically 12 months, the Bears are confident their star player will struggle to stay away from the middle.

The DDCA Turf 1 season is set to be 14 rounds, with seven one-day matches and seven two-day matches.