Decisive factors in DDCA semis

Parkfield number three Riley Payne's offside game is glorious to watch and he'll be hoping to go big against HSD. 391025 Picture: ROB CAREW.

By Jonty Ralphsmith

It’s semi-final week in the Dandenong District Cricket Association (DDCA), with a tight race for the premiership in Turf 2 promising to deliver an unpredictable and thrilling climax to the 2023-24 season.

In Turf 3, Coomoora is the clear front-runner across two days, but will face stiff competition from three rivals which all play positive cricket.

The return of two-day cricket sees these fixtures played as two-day games on Saturday and Sunday, with the winners of the matches progressing to the grand final.


Dandenong West

Why they can win it: Dandenong West’s talent on paper is undoubtedly unmatched. Two former international bowlers in Nuwan Kulasekara and Malinga Bandara are always pressing, while leggie Riley Siwes and quick Adam Reid have also had strong seasons while experienced batters Anthony Brannan and Shaun Weir have led the way. It’s a durable core built for two-day cricket.

The challenge: Overcoming the lack of depth against a strong side. Inevitably, there are always players in an XI which are going to have indifferent seasons, but outside of those mentioned it has been very slim pickings. The Bulls have stuck fat with their preferred squad, which they may live to regret. Arguably, they have been able to paper over those cracks against the bottom four, and rain has washed out three of the Bulls’ six clashes against fellow finalists; The Bulls going 1-2 in the other three games. Getting several players firing will be critical.


Why they can win it: Jakeb Thomas’ fiery seven-wicket haul to bowl the Bulls out for just 56 in round 13 will be fresh in the opposition’s minds. That spell exposed a few kryptonites the Eagles will again look to exploit. Cranbourne will also be confident in its batting depth, having several times lost six or more early wickets and recovered to a competitive total; including in that match against Dandy West. It’s a well-balanced side with clearly defined roles for each player.

The challenge: It’s impossible to overlook the fact that Cranbourne slumped to 7/101 in that round 13 game. While the tail has resisted well throughout the season, the Eagles need consistency from the top-order, with Reid and Kulasekera doing the damage last time thanks to their ability to nip both ways.



Why they can win it: Have shown a propensity to win the big moments and get up in tight games, particularly before Christmas. Players seem to be finding form at the right time, Mackenzie Gardner having made consecutive big scores, Anuda Akmeemana backing up a half-century in round 13 with an unbeaten 28 on Saturday and Jordan Margenberg coming into the side and taking six wickets.

The challenge: Replacing Ryan Patterson. The fast bowling all-rounder is almost certainly the best first-change fast bowler in the league, even if he has gone, at times unrewarded this season. He’s unavailable for the semi, meaning the Cobras lose his discipline, patience and energy with the ball and likely some handy lower-order runs.


Why they can win it: Their even spread. Parkfield is difficult to assess because it doesn’t have a clear strength, nor an absolute match-winner, but that is what has made them so hard to get on top of. Everyone has to do their part for the team to win. The Bandits are probably the best fielding team in the competition and have spinner Nick Jeffrey who goes into finals with white-hot form behind him. Opening pairing Dishan Malalasekera and Nathaniel Cramer bat well together and are another important piece.

The challenge: Their ability to put a big score on the board. So many have contributed bits and pieces, but 20s and 30s don’t win finals. Will carry confidence that they bat very deep, numbers 10 and 11 regularly contributing runs, but no-one from outside the opening pair has a half century this season, despite 26 scores of at least 20 from positions 3-11. Everyone has spent time in the middle…now someone needs to go big.

Predictions: Dandenong West, HSD

Turf 3



Why they can win it: The experience and stability. It took Coomoora a while to hit their stride in 2023-24, but such a large chunk of the XI have played a higher standard of cricket and the squad is virtually unchanged from the one which reached the grand final last year. They know what to expect.

The challenge: Coomoora enters finals off the back of four consecutive games against the teams which missed the top four, so the adjustment to the higher intensity of finals will be a watch. Granted, the Roos have won all four matches – three outrights – but more competitive hitouts would be welcomed. Joel Robertson and Nick Lloyd will also be eyeing the wicket of Tajbir Powar early because he’s hard to stop once settled, as he showed against the Roos earlier in the season.


Why they can win it: Batting depth. A big score will be required to usurp the ladder-leaders, who have so much experience in big games, and the Lakers bat down to nine which will give the club confidence it can ride out waves of momentum. Highlighting the depth, Lynbrook has six batters in the top 25 run-scorers of the competition – compared to three each for the three other finalists.

The challenge: Combatting the challenge of Malan Madusanka. The Coomoora tweaker has 45 wickets for the season and will hold down an end all day for Coomoora. Lynbrook has on several occasions relied on their power against the weaker bowlers to hurry the scoreboard along; but that will carry risk against Coomoora.


Fountain Gate

Why they can win it: The Gators can take the game away from opposition in a short period of time. The poor deliveries which are bound to come in Turf 3 are dealt with by the several explosive match-winners, while bowlers Jasdeep Singh and Sampath, in particular, bowl to take wickets. Between Hasindu Waduge’s legside game and Sampath’s brute strength, the Gators’ explosiveness is unmatched.

The challenge: Instability in the XI. There has been more chopping and changing of the Fountain Gate XI than the rest of the top four, with the club rotating 22 players through the First XI throughout the season. The Gators appear to have found stability in the last month, but how much of an impact the early season upheaval had remains to be seen.

Berwick Springs

Why they can win it: The most bankable opening pair in the competition and a wide spread of players who have all played key hands throughout the season. Of those who will likely line up, 10 of the 11 have either scored a half-century or taken a five-wicket haul this season.

The challenge: Overcoming Fountain Gate’s spinners. Headlined by 5/19 (19) to Chanaka ‘Ted’ Sampath in round 12, the Gators’ spinners have taken 15 wickets against Berwick Springs this season, to help bowl the Titans out twice.

Predictions: Coomoora, Berwick Springs