Who will break away from the pack?

Matthew Goodwright is having a terrific season for Buckley Ridges. 261692 Picture: ROB CAREW

DDCA TURF 1

PREVIEW – ROUND 6

With the Christmas tree now safely stored away for another year, it’s time for the return of the Dandenong District Cricket Association on Saturday, with the second-half of the season set to kick off from 12.30pm.

And after a fascinating start to the Turf 1 season, it’s anyone’s guess what the pecking order is, with Berwick, Springvale South, Narre South and Buckley Ridges locked away on 18 points, while just outside the top-four is reigning premiers Hallam Kalora Park on 12 points, who continue to fly under the radar in their quest of back-to-back flags.

Here’s a look at this weekend’s matches:

Berwick v Narre South

The blockbuster of the round takes place at Arch Brown Reserve as the Bears and Lions look to continue their dominance pre-Christmas.

James Wilcock’s side is glittered with talent everywhere you look, with openers Lachlan Brown (167 runs), Jordan Cleland (121) in particular getting the side off to rattling starts, while the great Matt Chasemore (89) always looms as a threat. But it’s with the ball that the Bears are the most damaging, with gun quicks Wilcock (six wickets) and ex-state quick Andrew Perrin (12) as good a duo as it gets, while the evergreen Jarrod Goodes has started the season with eight wickets next to his name,

But the surprise packet of the opening portion has been the Lions, a side slated to potentially drop away after some departures, but the side led by Kyle Hardy has plenty of grit. Hardy himself is leading the competition for runs with 181 and is an understated star of the association, while boom recruit Harsha de Silva is impressing each and every week with the bat. Seamer Tim Phillips (nine wickets) is bowling beautifully and leading the attack with aplomb.

North Dandenong v Buckley Ridges

One of the most fascinated aspects of the early-season North Dandenong is that at its best they’re as destructive as any side in the competition.

But the best and worst of the Maroons has been too far and few in between to get a real gauge of them as a side.

One thing is for certain – the Bucks will need to be on their toes. Gun all-rounder Javed Khan is an important commodity for the Maroons with his batting and bowling, and gun skipper Clay McCartney has the ability to tear apart bowling attacks.

It’s just the kind of game the Maroons will fancy themselves in to cause an upset.

However, the Bucks – a bit of a new-look group to what we’re used to – is playing some terrific cricket despite a disappointing loss post-Christmas to Berwick.

Ex-Sri Lankan batter Mahela Udawatte is already showing his class with 112 runs and a superb half-century, while skipper and former England Under 19 player Ben Wright is yet to get going but looks dangerous. With the ball the Bucks have been destructive, with Matt Goodwright and Michael Davies already combining for 18 wickets.

Expect the runs to flow at Lois Twohig Reserve.

Narre Warren v Hallam Kalora Park

It’s been a fairly disappointing start to life back in Turf 1 for Narre Warren, who are still searching for its first win of the season.

The Magpies haven’t been able to fire as of yet, struggling with both bat and ball, and a clash against the reigning premiers won’t make it easy to clinch some points.

The Hawks are a side – weirdly enough – that is flying under the radar despite winning the flag last season. It sounds strange to say, but they’re hardly spoken about.

The reigning premiers have already lost to Springvale South and Buckley Ridges and will want to ensure they don’t drop too many from here, but shouldn’t have too many issues with the Maggies.

Veteran Leigh Booth is flying in the early stages with 174 runs and two half-centuries, while another dangerous cricketer Matthew Cox, and skipper Jordan Hammond are also compiling strong seasons.

For the Magpies to be in this one, they’ll need a big performance from quick Josh Dinger and a collective lift from the top-order with the bat.

St Mary’s v Springvale South

There are few more impressive sides on paper than Springvale South, who with its mix of ex-Premier and state players is a dangerous unit.

But an away clash against a plucky St Mary’s is no easy win for the Bloods, who will need to be at their best against a good Saints side.

The Saints have seen all-rounder Ashan Anthony (169 runs and four wickets) put together a strong start, while Kusan Niranjana (11 wickets and 97 runs) is a genuine gun of the association.

However, with a Bloods outfit featuring names such as Blade Baxter – who is flying in his new home -Jordan Wyatt, Ryan Quirk, Jarryd Straker, Josh Dowling, Akshat Buch, Jayde Herrick and Jack Sketcher, the visitors have ample options with both bat and ball to get the job done.

With the top-four starting to resemble some shape, this provides a perfect opportunity to clinch top spot (should Berwick lose) with a big win.

But on recent form, and the even spread of the St Mary’s side, it’ll be a tough challenge.

DDCA LADDER

Berwick

Springvale South

Narre South

Buckley Ridges

Hallam Kalora Park

North Dandenong

St Mary’s

Narre Warren