By Jonty Ralphsmith
Two fast bowlers with Victorian Premier Cricket experience have arrived at Cranbourne ahead of another premiership tilt.
Jakeb Thomas joins from Dandenong having played 46 Premier First XI matches, where he collected 58 wickets at an average of 27.
Jayden Scotland arrives from Casey-South Melbourne, playing in the fourths and taking eight wickets at 31 last summer.
With Cranbourne setting the benchmark over the last two seasons of Turf 2 of the Dandenong District Cricket Association (DDCA), winning 22 of 28 home and away matches, there are no obvious list gaps.
But player-coach Mick Sweeney highlighted that for various reasons, as the Eagles have struggled to break-through early across that period.
Although the Eagles took the second most wickets (106) and conceded the second-fewest runs (1513) last season, they only had their opponents 2/30 or better three times.
The coach expressed that the selfless effort of quickie Tim Fathers is emblematic of what the team need to buy into if it wants to taste success.
Fathers had not taken a wicket in the first half of the 2021/22 season, tying up an end at an economy rate of 3.30, as he bowled into the wind to allow Marty Kelly to strike at the other end.
“We wanted to celebrate that as a club internally – that is the kind of thing that I want to motivate the players with,” Sweeney said.
“Relationships are everything in a club, we want a connected club and that is a good example of that.
“It doesn’t have to be fireworks and outright aggression and banter, it’s just about being disciplined and predictable to one another.
“It’s about our players knowing the context and understanding what the team requires of them, more than what they want to do themselves as an individual.
“It might require that little bit of sacrifice but if we get buy in, 11 blokes thinking that way, all of a sudden we become an incredibly difficult team to beat.
“That is the culture that has started to grow and have us known for and I don’t want that to change.”
The batting list is unchanged from last year, with Sweeney unconcerned by the heavy reliance that Cranbourne had upon himself and his brother last season, backing internal growth.
Cranbourne were the best batting side last season scoring the most runs (1945) and losing the second-fewest wickets (76).
Charles Gartisde Medalist Peter Sweeney scored 554 runs at an average of 79 and Mick scored 356 at an average of 51.
“We do think we have some internal growth to come and some better seasons from our middle order, as well as maybe our tail doing a little bit more wagging,” he said.
“Myself and Pete have done a pretty good job I’d like to think, but it would be very easy to look at our six, seven, eight batters and see that they haven’t made a lot of runs, but they’ve been coming in during the last five overs without a good run at it, so we can’t ask a lot more of them.
“We haven’t lost anyone in that regard, so I don’t think it is a big issue.”
Sweeney highlighted middle-order wicket-keeper-batter Matt Collett as a crisp ball striker to keep an eye on, after he scored just 186 runs at 16 last season.
When Mick and Peter arrived at Cranbourne two seasons ago, the goal was very clear: win a flag and with those additions and continuity, Mick is confident the club is well-positioned once again.
Mick knows that the home and away puts expectation upon them but is not feeling any added pressure on the club.
I don’t feel any different going into the season,” Mick said.
“The expectation was us being one of the favourites when I first came to the club with my brother – I wasn’t coming to finish second and neither was Pete.
“We expected to play finals and we expected to win them and the expectation remains exactly the same, and we’re going to have some boys on board and we’ll shoot for that again.
“Hopefully we can do it but you’ve got to be the best team two weeks in a row in March/April so just have to get there.”