Tigers on the prowl in GCA1

November 2, 2023 BY

Grovedale recruit Rob Smith (on strike) has been a stabilising force for the Tigers in season 2023/24. Photo: PETER MARSHALL

EXTRA depth in the batting order and three wins from their first four contests has Grovedale staking an early claim to the Division 1 finals picture in the Geelong Cricket Association (GCA).

The Tigers sit atop Geelong’s top cricket division on percentage ahead of South Barwon and St Joseph’s (18 points each) following the first month of action in 2023/24, recording wins against Newtown & Chilwell, Lara, and Highton.

Grovedale was unable to tame a surging South Barwon line-up last weekend, falling three wickets short of the Swans, but captain-coach Jordan Moran is enjoying his side’s hot start.

“We’re seeing even contributions across our whole squad to this point,” Moran said.

“Jack Wrigglesworth stood up for us in Round 1 with the bat, knocking in 88 runs, the second game it was Braden Engelen-Baker with his 52, and in the third it was Michael McNeel with 98.

“So rather than relying on two or three guys to produce runs, we have an even spread for others to step in and pick up the reins, which is something we have kind of lacked the past couple of years.”

The Tigers’ batting depth was on display again on Saturday with Jake Alsop scoring 134 not out off 146, including 16 boundaries.

Grovedale’s eagerness to get back into the winner’s column will be tested on Saturday (November 4) when it takes on East Belmont; the side that eliminated it in last year’s Preliminary Final.

The Lions sit outside the top four with two wins, one loss and a Round 1 abandonment against North Geelong.

The two sides meet at Winter Reserve, with Moran saying his side had struggled in recent years against one of the competition’s best bowling attacks.

“We always seem to struggle against East, I know we won the season games last season on a bit of a wet wicket, but they’ve had the number on us the past few years.

“We’ll approach Saturday with how we want to play it and hopefully our brand of cricket will stand up on the day.

“It’s always a great wicket down at Winter Reserve, they’re a really classy side, it’ll be a good test for us to see where we’re actually at.”

Grovedale is still two bowlers short with Nathan Berry and Luke Guest unavailable due to injury and not expected to return until Christmas, but Wrigglesworth and Sam Coutts have steadied the ship and are both ranked among the top five wicket takers across the competition.

The Tigers and Lions start play at 12.15pm.