Blockbuster finals in store

Buckley Ridges' Roshane Silva will be one of the most important players in the Turf 1 finals series. 388167 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Marcus Uhe

The cricket gods are smiling upon the DDCA Turf 1 competition with a pair of tantalising and intriguing contests awaiting in the first week of finals.

Rivals, Springvale South and Buckley Ridges will write another chapter in their storied history, while Hallam Kalora Park and Narre South will (hopefully) answer some lingering questions from the regular season.


Springvale South

Why they can win it: Springvale South hasn’t lost at home all year, while it’s been years since they suffered defeat in a two-day game at the fortress of Alex Nelson Reserve. They bounced back from a two-game losing streak last week that saw key players in Blade Baxter and Jarryd Straker return to form, while Wookey Medal winner Jordan Wyatt has 281 runs in his last three innings.

The challenge: What happens if Wyatt and Straker are nullified? Wyatt has 378 more runs than his nearest teammate, the injured Jordan Mackenzie, and Straker is 15 wickets clear of Baxter in second place. Straker’s two worst performances came in the Bloods’ two losses this season, with Buckley arguably laying the blueprint.

Buckley Ridges

Why they can win it: They’re the last team to knock the Bloods off in both two-day cricket, two rounds ago, and win at their home ground, in a stirring qualifying final win 12 months ago. The Bucks targeted Straker with tremendous effect, and the top order is in ominous touch; Roshane Silva has made half-centuries in his last four knocks, while Jake Cronin has rediscovered some form.

The challenge: Springvale South was undermanned in round 12 with key all-rounders Blade Baxter and Jackson Sketcher absent, both likely to take their place this week. How much of a psychological edge the last two grand final results gives the Bloods, if any, will be telling.


Hallam Kalora Park

Why they can win it: The form side of Turf 1 with four consecutive wins, this is a group that know each other inside and out, and have extra motivation in playing for their retiring coach, the beloved Matthew Cox. The bowling attack is on song, while batters Leigh Booth and Ciaron Connolly have discovered touch in recent weeks.

The challenge: Narre South took 300 runs off them in round six at Hallam, and will be confident in repeating the feat this week. The impact of Saturday-Sunday fixtures on a veteran side, too, will be one to watch.

Narre South

Why they can win it: No trio has taken more wickets than Narre South’s Callan Tout (26), Alex Cruickshank (24) and Jeevan Mendis (23). Mendis is exactly the sort of cricketer you’d want for a finals series too, still with a claim to being the best in the competition.

The challenge: Callum Nicholls is a huge loss, and the batting hasn’t been the same since he went down. Should the Hawks get through Kyle Hardy, much will fall to shoulders of a young group that lacks the experience of finals cricket.

Tips: Buckley Ridges, Hallam Kalora Park.