The Camberwell Magpies have started the new season with confidence, with wins coming in the Firsts and Seconds, a tie in the fourths and encouraging signs from the Thirds. After the false start last week due to the weather, it was good to get all matches played, and the cobwebs of an interrupted preseason out of the way.
The firsts made the trip to Shepley Oval up against last year's runners-up, who had lost nine players from that match and we knew would be keen to prove themselves. In his first game as captain Ben Rowles lost the toss and was asked to field first.
In Rowles 50th first grade game, Tom Nelson and wicketkeeper Ben Shields debuted in Victorian Premier Cricket.
Shubham Bhargave opened the bowling and grabbed the season's first wicket with only 25 runs on the board for Dandenong.
It was the perfect start for the Magpies, with Dandenong batters getting starts but couldn't carry on, and our bowlers bowled to their plans, routinely taking wickets on what was a tricky surface.
Camberwell held Dandenong for what was thought a below-par total of 189 off their fifty overs. Chris Bridle 3/42 was the leading wicket-taker, with debutant quick bowler Tom Nelson and spinners Ollie Jenkins and Shubham Bhargave picking up a wicket. Although going wickless, All-rounder Will Townsend bowled a great spell in the middle overs to help contain the panthers.
The challenge was to construct a good start against a relatively unknown Dandenong bowling group with only former Carlton player Mat Wilson known well to us in their attack.
Captain Ben Rowles and Rishab Guddadamane opened up with a partnership of 58 runs to set the right platform in the chase, and when Rishab (GM) was dismissed, Shubham Bhargave joined Rowles to take the score to 85 before both departed. Dandenong was able to pull a few wickets back and the run rate in the middle overs and put some pressure on the Camberwell batters.
On 5/107, debutante Ben Shields came to the wicket and built a 41 run partnership with Hamish Burrill, who had been slowly building his innings while wickets had fallen around him. Shields 22 and late hitting by Andrew Fekete 13no, including a towering six, brought home a crucial first win for Rowles the club and new coach Ben Ryan.
The innings of Hamish Burrill 55no (85) was everything we needed from a number 4 to steady the chase for a young and eager side.
Photo Credit: Tyler Lewis
The second XI playing at Watson Park elected to bat first, which proved was the right choice as they posted an impressive score of 308 off their fifty overs. Chris Thewlis and Spencer Wood set up the innings perfectly with a 109 run stand for the first wicket.
Thewlis was the first dismissed for 90 off only 46 balls, with the innings included 11 fours and five sixes. Captain Daniel Rawson and Wood continued with an 84 run stand for the third wicket until Rawson was dismissed for 27. Spencer departed for 81 with the score at 3/243 and with 15 overs to go that saw Jack Di Stefano and James Wiseman go at a run a ball rate with Di Stefano finishing on 57 and Wiseman 34 not out.
Camberwell came out firing with the ball, with Aidan Nicholls taking the first two to leave Dandenong 2/36. The wickets fell regularly, with James Wiseman collecting two and Adrian Vidajic one to have Dandenong 5/79.
Dandenong batsman Daud Malik with a solid 67, was the only real thorn with Wiseman 3/17 (5.1) and Nicholls 3/25 (8), the pick of the bowlers in a resounding 105 run first-up win for the seconds.
The thirds played at Ian Johnson Oval in St Kilda with Dandenong ground out of action due to weather damage.
Dandenong elected to bat first, and it was a bright start for Camberwell with Daniel Walker 3/6 (6) snaring the first three and Lucas Harrison grabbing the fourth to have them 4/13. After their collapse, Dandenong was able to steady the ship, with Jaskabeer Singh making an important 72 to get Dandenong to a total of 161 off their 45 overs.
In response, like Dandenong, Camberwell was in trouble early, losing 5/33 and never really got going. Walker, the pick of the bowlers, also top-scored with 35, with Joshua Nelson 20 being the only other batsman to pass the teens. They fell only 22 runs short, so the top five's lack of contribution was a telling factor.
The fourths hosted Dandenong at Watson Park and batted first, with six players making their debut.
After losing an early wicket Mitchell Traplin (24), Trent Callan (20) and Will Mazza (71) got us to 4/142. Mazza 71 off 48, which included eight fours and three sixes, was crucial to Camberwell total as the lower orders Tricarico (19), Samuel Olsen (14) and skipper Robbie Capstick 15no got us to 215 off 42.1 overs.
In reply, Dandenong was off to a strong start with a 59 run opening partnership. Camberwell pegged it back through Joel Carruthers and Anton Ponnamperuma to restrict Dandenong from scoring and nagged away for crucial wickets with their opener Jack Mclaren making 80.
Dandenong needed 35 runs to win with five wickets in hand, and it seemed it wouldn't be the magpies day. Still, they limited the scoring, and the match came down to the final over and finished in a thrilling tie when they scrambled two off the final delivery with both sides sharing the points.
It was a fantastic weekend for Camberwell, with the 1sts and 2nds wins and fourths having a tie. The thirds were a top-order contribution away from getting the points, it seems upwards and onwards, and many positives come out of the round for Coach Ben Ryan and club Captain Ben Rowles.
Ben Rowles said, " it was a complete performance by all this weekend and winning those seesawing and close encounters with an extremely young group is what builds belief and confidence in what we can achieve".
"We'll take confidence into next week for what will be a big challenge down the highway against Geelong".
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