Silverware is up for grabs in Victorian Premier Cricket with the Second and Third XI Women’s grand finals and a blockbuster First XI preliminary final.
Silverware is up for grabs in Victorian Premier Cricket.
The Women’s Second XI and Third XI grand finals will be contested on Sunday with Geelong looking to claim a stunning double in its first season in the competition.
Melbourne is looking for a hat-trick of titles in the Second XI, while Carlton is hoping to win back its crown after claiming the inaugural 2020-21 premiership.
In the First XI, a rematch of last season’s grand final will see Melbourne and Carlton battle for a chance to face Essendon Maribyrnong Park in the grand final.
Both teams are expected to welcome back state stars in what should be a fascinating contest at Princes Park.
FIRST XI PRELIMINARY FINAL
CARLTON v MELBOURNE
Sunday, February 26 at Princes Park
LAST TIME: Melbourne (8-217) def Carlton (133) at Albert Ground, round 12
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Reid will return to the Blues side after missing the first final due to WNCL duties. While she hasn’t had an as prolific year with the bat as last summer for the Blues, the damaging left-hander is in strong form, scoring 48 and 73 in two of her final three Victorian appearances.
Captained Melbourne to a Marg Jennings Cup title mid-season and is now making regular match-winning performances in the First XI. If not for Page’s performance on Sunday, the Demons’ season may well have been over. The young gun top scored with 72, coming in a 3-32 and taking her team to 9-184, falling on the final ball of the innings. She then bowled three tidy overs for 0-13, took a catch and got a run-out.
Green found form in the final round of the home-and-away season with 92 before failing in the semi-final. Over the course of the last two seasons Green and Reid have averaged 42 for the first wicket while the other combinations in that time can average just 11.
Missed the semi-final win due to state duties but comes into the game in strong form after 40 and 2-33 and 21 and 1-29 in Victoria’s recent WNCL double-header against ACT. Haywood has only played two matches for Melbourne this one-day season but you would think would walk back into the starting XI with her all-round abilities. Had a strong performance against Carlton in last season’s grand final, finishing with 2-22 and 18.
The typically ever-reliable seamer had a disappointing outing in the first final against EMP, being uncharacteristically expensive in the powerplay. After having a steady season, Albers will be out to improve on that performance this Sunday.
Terrorised Carlton in the last meeting, taking 3-15 in 8.2 overs as the Blues were rolled for 133. Rolled through Box Hill in the semi-final on Sunday too with 3-32 and enjoyed a strong grand final against Carlton last season with 2-25. Has enjoyed arguably her best season with the ball, claiming 21 scalps – second most in the competition – at an average of 15.81, plus another nine in the T20s.
VERDICT: A rematch of last season’s grand final. Melbourne brings winning form after a strong outing against Box Hill, while Carlton will be looking to bounce back after going down to Essendon Maribyrnong Park. Both teams are expected to welcome back key players from state duties, which will add another dimension to the match. The Demons have the edge head-to-head this season, winning the Round 12 clash while the Round 1 match was washed out. Both EMP and Melbourne over-turned last-match losses to their semi-final opponents so we’re backing Carlton to continue that trend.
SECOND XI GRAND FINAL
MELBOURNE v GEELONG
Sunday, February 26 at Beaumaris SC
Last time: Melbourne (7-147) def Geelong (146) at Kardinia Park
The young run-machine scored 111 – her third century of the season – on Sunday to lead Melbourne into the grand final. O’Meara finished the home-and-away campaign fifth on the Second XI charts with 304 runs but was also the Marg Jennings Shield run-scorer with 262, including a match-winning 84 in the grand final.
Top-scored for Melbourne in last season’s First XI premiership win with 41 and now faces her old side as the leader of newcomers Geelong. Townsend enjoyed a super season, knocking in 333 runs at 47.57 to finish third on the run-scorers charts and added a game-high 34 in the semi-final win over Carlton. Will be a big player on Sunday.
Super form in the Second XI saw Couser called up to the First XI for the minor semi-final win over Box Hill. However, with the return of several state players she could find herself playing for a premiership medal in the Second XI on Sunday. Finished the home-and-away season as the competition’s seventh-leading run-scorer with 264.
Ripped through Carlton’s batting order with 4-23 in Sunday’s semi-final victory, including the wicket of Inakshi Sehgal with her first ball. Leishman had only taken seven wickets in 10 home-and-away matches but has six in her last two appearances, including the semi. The Cats will hope she can stay hot.
VERDICT: Geelong’s debut season has been nothing short of sensational, reaching the grand final. However, it’s tough to see Melbourne getting rolled here. The Demons have been a cut above the competition for much of the season, winning 12 of 18 games, scoring the most runs and taking the most wickets.
THIRD XI GRAND FINAL
CARLTON v GEELONG
Sunday, February 26 at Beaumaris Secondary College
LAST TIME: Carlton (103) def by Geelong (7-163) at Princes Park, round 17
PLAYERS TO WATCH
The Blues’ wicketkeeper comes into the final in extraordinary form after belting an unbeaten 152 off just 102 balls in the semi-final. She’s hardly been a one-hit-wonder either, with a previous century (111no) and 96 in previous outings. Made a duck in the last match with Geelong and the Cats ultimately won. If she gets in, Carlton wins.
Since coming down from the Second XI, Jagger has been a regular force for the Cats. She is yet to be dismissed below double-figures in this grade over the duration of 2022-23 and in that time has posted two fifties. To add to the headache for Carlton, Jagger is coming off a three-wicket haul in the semi-final, where she dismissed each of Melbourne’s top three.
Letchford sealed Carlton’s place in the grand final with a strong 4-36 in the semi-final last weekend. Didn’t play in the last match against the Cats, but in the two games between she has collected seven wickets.
The promising youngster enters the grand final in exceptional form. Schrama has carried on from her five-wicket haul against Dandenong in December, creating a streak of at least one wicket taken that has lasted across her last seven matches.
Originally published as Players to watch in Premier Cricket Women’s preliminary, grand finals