The Times’ SMCA team of the year

Rohan Blandford will open the batting in Gippsland Times' team of the year. File photo

Josh Farrell

As the first part of the Sale-Maffra Cricket Association season, comes to an end, it is an opportunity to take stock of the season.

The Gippsland Times has decided to pick its team of the year so far.

It is a challenge to pick a balanced team that is balanced and spinners have dominated the first part of the season — thus, there is a number of spinners picked and seam bowling all rounders in the middle order.

Stratford, Maffra and Bundalaguah began the season strongly, and will feature prominently in this team in which 12 players were picked based on statistics and form.

1. Lee Hopkins (Maffra)

Hopkins made the move to the top of the order in round four after beginning the season in good form, but has improved his statistics since the move.

He has scored 180 runs at an average of 45, with three half centuries so far this summer.

Hopkins has been an instrumental part of Maffra’s ability to finish 2021 in the top two, and the Eagles will be looking for him to continue his form in the new year.

Hopkins has had the opportunity to roll the arm over for the Eagles, taking five wickets at an average of 25 showing that batting form often correlates to bowling form.

2. Rohan Blandford (Sale)

While Blandford is a regular at number three for Sale, he has batted at the top of the order in the Gippsland Cricket League, which is why he finds himself in this team.

Blandford has serious pedigree and has been one of the best performers in the association since returning in the 2018 to 2019 season.

Blandford scored the first and only century for the competition in round four against Rosedale-Kilmany, where he guided his team to their first win of the season.

The Sale captain has scored 200 runs and is averaging 50 making him an almost immediate inclusion in this team.

The level-headed nature of the Sale skipper would make him invaluable at the top of the order.

3. Matt Dowsett (Bundalaguah)

The highest run scorer so far this season finds himself at number three in the Gippsland Times team of the year.

Dowsett has been incredibly consistent so far this season, and has been instrumental in the strong start for the Bulls.

His lowest score so far this season has been 29, and he has scored 229 runs at an average of 57.25 — with his highest score reaching 80.

In a team full of number threes, Dowsett has been a cut above and therefore finds himself in the coveted position.

Dowsett has settled in nicely at three for the Bulls, and they will be looking for more of the same from him in the New Year.

4. Josh Rurawhe (Maffra)

Ordinarily, if someone had only played three of the possible five games, they would not make a team of the year — but Rurawhe’s return to A grade has been astonishing.

Rurawhe returned to the side in round four and made an immediate effect for the Eagles, making 88 against Boisdale-Briagolong.

Rurawhe scored 186 runs, and has been dismissed only once, to give himself an average of 186, and showing his ability to bat long for the Eagles.

For the Eagles, Rurawhe’s form have allowed them to adjust their batting line up to make it much more formidable.

5. Jack Tatterson (c) (Stratford)

The Tattersons have dominated the association so far, and Jack has found his groove as captain of an undefeated Stratford side.

One of the side’s all rounders, Tatterson has had a strong season with bat in hand.

The Redbacks’ skipper has scored 199 runs at an average of 39.8, including two half centuries.

He has been equally impressive with ball, which is always challenging for captains.

Tatterson has taken nine wickets at an average 10.56, and has been consistent in his last three bowling innings taking three wickets in each.

6. Steve Spoljaric (Bundalaguah)

There is no surprise Spoljaric makes this team, as he continues to age like a fine wine and dominate the association.

Another all rounder, Spoljaric has scored 181 in his four innings at an average of 45 — which has included two half centuries.

In each game, Spoljaric has scored 20 or more showing his consistency and form, and is an important part of the Bulls’ batting order.

The Bulls’ all-rounder has been instrumental bowling the middle overs, with an economy rate of under three.

Spoljaric has taken eight wickets at an average of 16, making him the clear choice as an all rounder in this side.

7. Nathan Massey (wk) (Sale)

Massey returns to the association this summer after a year off, slotting back into the Sale line-up and is a key cog for the team.

The Swans’ keeper returned with a half century against Bundalaguah, and has scored 156 runs at 39 — which includes three scores of more than 30.

It has been a tough beginning to the season for Sale, but Massey, along with Blandford, have kept Sale in matches.

Massey has been solid behind the stumps for Sale, taking five catches and two stumpings so far, and earning him the spot as the wicket keeper in this team.

8. Isaac Love (Collegians)

The number one wicket taker so far this season is an automatic inclusion in this side, and could count himself unlucky to not be named captain.

Love has some mind boggling statistics so far this season, and has been instrumental in College’s winning record.

Love has taken 14 wickets at an unbelievable average of 8.21 so far this season.

The College skipper often opens the bowling — impressive for a spinner — and has controlled the innings from the outset.

Batting at eight is far too low for Love, but in a team as high in quality as this, his inclusion provides depth to the batting line-up.

9. Jake Wynd (Longford)

Wynd has been in impeccable form to begin this summer, and is unlucky to not have played any Gippsland Cricket League games so far.

While in his last two games he has gone wicketless, Wynd began the season on fire, taking 6/26 against Rosedale-Kilmany, as well as wickets against the Saints and top of the ladder Stratford.

It has been a tough summer for Longford, and Wynd has been the shining light.

He has nine wickets at an average of 17, and will be aiming to recapture his wicket taking prowess in the new year.

10. Ethan Albrecht (Stratford)

A BOLTER so far this season, Albrecht has been a pivotal cog in the Stratford bowling attack.

In and out of Stratford last summer, Albrecht would be one of the first picked bowlers for Jack Tatterson this season.

Albrecht has taken 10 wickets, and a wicket in all but one game so far this season, with an average of just over 11 bowling his right arm off spin.

The spinner is second on the wicket takers’ list for the association, showing his skills so far this season and making him a handful for oppositions.

11. David Griffiths (Maffra)

The sole specialist seamer, Griffiths has lead the Maffra attack through the middle rounds and into the Christmas break.

Griffiths has taken nine wickets at an average of a touch over 12, opening the bowling and bowling the challenging death overs.

Griffiths has a strike rate of 21 so far this season.

His best figures came against Rosedale-Kilmany, when he took four from 31 from his nine overs when the Warriors posted an impressive 222 from their 45 overs.

For captain Josh Davis, Griffiths’ bustling seam bowling will be pivotal if Maffra wants to compete against Stratford in round eight.

12. Sam Bedggood (Bundalaguah)

Bedggood finds his way into this team after a consistent season with bat and ball, while also being impressive in the field for Bundalaguah.

Bedggood has been picked as 12th man, for his strong season in the field for the Bulls.

He has taken five catches so far, and one unassisted run out, putting him at the top of the list for non-wicketkeepers.

The all rounder has been dismissed once this summer, giving him an average of 136 and a high score of 52 not out.

He has been handy with the ball, called upon by Jason Langshaw in three matches, where he took five wickets at an average of under 20.