LOCAL CRICKET Jim Timberlake
Geelong Cricket Club enters the new year with renewed optimism following an outstanding outright win against Kingston Hawthorn just prior to the Christmas break.
Entering day two of their clash, the Cats’ backs were against the wall, but an incredible bowling performance from Hayden Butterworth saw them not only win the game, but take maximum second innings points.
The star all-rounder claimed 5/36 in the first innings, before backing it up with 6/63 in the second.
The victory means Geelong sits just outside the top eight on percentage, and, with a very winnable one day game against Frankston Penninsula on Saturday, may well be in the eight by Saturday night.
In Geelong Cricket Association the run into finals has begun, and in division one the top four is starting to break away from the chasing pack.
North Geelong sits on top, followed by Lara, while South Barwon and East Belmont sit in third and fourth respectively on 27 points.
Grovedale and Murgheboluc are both on 18 points, and will need to do everything right, as well as have a slice of luck, if they want to displace any of the top four.
Grovedale will host North Geelong in a one day game this round and the Tigers’ fate may well be in their own hands early Saturday, as a loss would make it extremely hard for them to make finals.
But they have showed over the past decade that they will fight all the way and an upset over the top side would surprise no one.
Selections: EAST BELMONT v St Josephs, Leopold v MURGHEBOLUC, Bell Post Hill v SOUTH BARWON, LARA v Newtown & Chilwell, GROVEDALE v North Geelong.
In division two, the one day grand final held just prior to Christmas proved to be an outstanding success, with the GCA trial being widely praised.
Bell Park showed why it is on top of the ladder, with a dominant win over Marshall, albeit after a shaky start that saw the side fall to 5/28 early in the first innings of the match.
Jamie Spiller (60) played a mature innings to see Bell Park post a competitive 164, while Jamie Turner made 47.
In reply, Marshall had some early jitters, but at 3/76, it was game on.
But when import Daniel Toft removed Corey Walter (34), the Bears crumbled to be all out for 109.
All of the one day games in division two have now been completed, so it’s two day cricket from here on in, with the race for the flag on in earnest.
Selections: St Peters v GEELONG CITY, HIGHTON v Torquay, Manifold Heights v MODEWARRE, Marshall v BELL PARK
And in division three, the race for finals spots is on for young and old, as just one game separates second-placed Alexander Thomson from eighth-placed Geelong West.
The match of the round will be the one day clash at St Albans Breakwater, where Bannockburn will attempt to knock of the hosts and move above them on the ladder.
With such a tight finish to the season looming, all sides will not want to make any mistakes, as the ramifications could be severe.
Selections: Guild Saints v ALEXANDER THOMSON, CORIO v Waurn Ponds Deakin, ST ALBANS BREAKWATER v Bannockburn, Thomson v LETHBRIDGE, Geelong West v NEWCOMB & DISTRICT.