Check out the made the cut for Clarence River Cricket Association's Best XI across each grade at the halfway stage of the 2020/21 season.
Check out the made the cut for Clarence River Cricket Association's Best XI across each grade at the halfway stage of the 2020/21 season.

CRCA CRICKET: Mid-season report - who's in the Best XI?

As cricketers prepare to return to the middle this weekend after the midseason break, who hit the ground running during the first half of the season? Who are the players that teams need to be target and rein in?

At the halfway point of Clarence River Cricket Association's 2020/21 season, we take a look at the individual standouts across all three grades (scroll down to view the 2nd Grade Best XI and 3rd Grade Best XI.

PREMIER LEAGUE BEST XI

1. Kallen Lawrence (Brothers) - Bat: 111 runs at 22.20, HS 43. Bowl: 4 wkts at 17.25, ER 2.88, BB 2/27.

Bowlers have dominated the first half of the 2020/21 season, particularly with the new ball with none of the opening batsmen able to clearly dominate. Kallen Lawrence is the highest scoring opener at this point with 111 runs but is yet to break fifty and is well below his own lofty standards set last season, when he was the competition's leading run scorer with 415 runs, which included two centuries prior to Christmas, and 435 in 2018/19.

This season he has handed the wicket keeping gloves to Brothers skipper Jake Kroehnert, thus adding another bow to his arsenal as a handy part-time spin option.

2. Tim Bultitude (Tucabia Copmanhurst) - Bat: 92 runs at 18.40, HS 45. Bowl: 7 wkts at 6.29, ER 2.30, BB 4/8.

Typically a number three batsman, Bultitude has the technique to face the new ball and finds himself opening the bat for the Best XI.

Reasonable statistics with the bat, Bultitude's inclusion was boosted by his improved spin bowling stocks. Tucabia are currently blessed with being able to throw the ball to either Matt Pigg or Bultitude and trust they'll either be able to tie up an end or take a flurry of wickets. Indeed the pair bowled in tandem to take four wickets each in Tucabia's low-scoring victory over Easts-Westlawn at JJ Lawrence Turf in round four.

• KFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK #7: Tim Bultitude earns call up

3. Jake Kroehnert (wk) (c) (Brothers) - Bat: 254 runs at 50.80, HS 105.

The competition's leading run scorer at the halfway mark of 2020/21, Kroehnert has led the way since ball one, scoring 105 on day one of the season against Easts-Westlawn.

Brothers Jake Kroehnert plays a ball through the covers against GDSC Easts/Jacaranda Hotel Westlawn in CRCA premier league.
Brothers Jake Kroehnert plays a ball through the covers against GDSC Easts/Jacaranda Hotel Westlawn in CRCA premier league.

Opting to don the gloves and trust his deep cache of bowling stocks to do the job with the ball, Kroehnert took four catches behind the stumps in round five against South Services. He also wears the captain's armband for the Best XI, having guided his side to an undefeated first half of the season, and resumed the captaincy for Clarence River's winning debut in the North Coast Premier League after a short stint in the position from Brad Chard.

• KFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK #1: Jake Kroehnert 105

4. Matt Pigg (Tucabia Copmanhurst) - Bat: 141 runs at 28.20 HS 60. Bowl: 9 wkts at 7.44, ER 2.39, BB 4/17.

The chances are Matt Pigg would have qualified for the Best XI on about 20 occasions in the past, and yet again he is an absolute shoe-in - with bat or ball.

The veteran all-rounder is Tucabia's leading run scorer and third overall with 141 runs, and his bowling strike of a wicket every 18.67 deliveries is second only to teammate Tim Bultitude (16.43) of the 14 bowlers who have taken six wickets or more.

5. Eli Fahey (Brothers) - Bat: 148 runs at 49.33. HS 73*.

From all accounts it appears to have been a successful transition to his new club for the former Coutts Crossing dynamo.

Eli Fahey plays a shot for Coutts/Coffs Colts in North Coast Premier League against Harwood at Lower Fisher Park.
Eli Fahey plays a shot for Coutts/Coffs Colts in North Coast Premier League against Harwood at Lower Fisher Park. Adam Hourigan

However, with a couple of starts to his name, expect his 148 runs to be merely a preview of things to come in the latter half of the season.

6. Rohan Hackett (Tucabia Copmanhurst) - Bat: 93 runs at 23.25, HS 52. Bowl: 6 wks at 17.17, ER 2.85, BB 2/18.

Showed in his round five innings of 52, when he batted with the tail to fall agonisingly short against Easts-Westlawn, that he has the fortitude to bat in the top six.

CRCA batter Rohan Hackett digs out a full ball from Northern Districts in their NCCC Premier League clash on December 6, 2020.
CRCA batter Rohan Hackett digs out a full ball from Northern Districts in their NCCC Premier League clash on December 6, 2020.

Meanwhile his class with the ball is undisputed. Tucabia's rich bowling stocks has meant Hackett has rarely seen the new ball, but he is yet go wicketless in a match this season.

7. Jackson Grieve (Easts-Westlawn) - Bat: 117 runs at 19.5, HS HS 51. Bowl: 5 wkts at 19.5, ER 3.06, BB 3/30.

The leading run scorer for Easts-Westlawn this season, and a handy leg spin option for the Best XI.

8. Nathan Blanch (vc) (Easts-Westlawn) - Bowl: 14 wkts at 7.21, ER 1.79, BB 5/15.

Blanch is bowling as well as ever in a truly inspirational first half of the season for his beloved club.

Nathan Blanch celebrates a wicket during the 2019/20 Clarence River Cricket Association GDSC Premier League minor semi-final match at McKittrick Park on Saturday, 15th March, 2020.
Nathan Blanch celebrates a wicket during the 2019/20 Clarence River Cricket Association GDSC Premier League minor semi-final match at McKittrick Park on Saturday, 15th March, 2020.

His numbers are incredible, and Blanch hit top gear leading into Christmas, taking 12 of his 14 wickets in the past three rounds, including 3 for 14 off 8 in his side's first win of the season over Tucabia Copmanhurst in round five.

• KFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK #6: Nathan Blanch 4/30 (22)

9. Brad Chard (Tucabia Copmanhurst) - Bowl: 10 wkts at 9.10, ER 1.91, BB 5/18.

The spearhead of Tucabia Copmanhurst's attack has started the season in reliable fashion with the ball, highlighted by a sublime spell of 5 for 18 off 14 overs across two weekends in round one.

GI Hotel Tucabia-Copmanhurst captain Brad Chard steams in during the GDSC Premier League grand final against Brothers Clocktower Hotel at Ellem Oval on Sunday, 31st March, 2019.
GI Hotel Tucabia-Copmanhurst captain Brad Chard steams in during the GDSC Premier League grand final against Brothers Clocktower Hotel at Ellem Oval on Sunday, 31st March, 2019. Bill North

10. Matthew Dalton (Souths) - Bowl: 14 wkts at 11.07, ER 3.41, BB 4/30.

The surprise packet of 2020-21 has been young fast bowler on the rise Matty Dalton, who is currently equal on 14 wickets with Nathan Blanch and Andy Kinnane at the top of the race for leading wicket taking honours.

TSS bowler Matthew Dalton during a game earlier in the season against Brisbane Grammar. Picture: AAP Image
TSS bowler Matthew Dalton during a game earlier in the season against Brisbane Grammar. Picture: AAP Image

Dalton's early season form saw him thrust into the Clarence River representative side, where he produced an impressive four-wicket haul against Northern Districts. He has also proven to have sound defences with the bat, part of some important partnerships in the lower middle order for Souths.

11. Andrew Kinnane (Brothers) - Bowl: 14 wkts at 8.93, ER 2.70, BB 6/30.

Brothers' first choice spinner has enjoyed an exceptional first half of the season, highlighted by returns of 5 for 28 off 8 (Premier League v Souths), 6 for 30 off 15.2 (Premier League v Tucabia) and 5 for 16 off 3.4 (T20 v Coutts) in consecutive matches.

12th: Jordan Gallagher (Souths) - Bowl: 8 wkts at 9.50, ER 2.39, BB 3/17.

At a new club and with hardly any cricket under his belt for the past two years, Gallagher entered this season with a big question mark next to his name. How would this once promising Coutts Crossing boy, now South Services man, transition into senior cricket? The selectors rightly tested the waters with Gallagher in Second Grade, where he scored 58 and 38 and took 4/29 and 2/26 in his two matches. Swiftly elevated to Premier League, Gallagher's left arm swing bowling in particular has proven up to the grade with an economy rate under 2.5 and average under 10 to be among the top 10 wicket takers in the league.

2ND GRADE BEST XI

1. Jaye Yardy (Tucabia) - Bat: 171 runs at 34.20, HS 60*.

2. Justin Blanch (Tucabia) - Bat: 150 runs at 30, HS 68*.

3. Billy Blanch (vc) (Tucabia) - Bat: 234 runs at 46.80, HS 88*. Bowl: 14 wkts at 6.93, ER 2.83, BB 5/23.

• KFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK #4: Billy Blanch leads the way

4. Jimmy Watters (wk) (Easts Valley Finance) - Bat: 218 runs at 31.14, HS 79. Bowl: 14 wkts at 14.21, ER 3.80. WK/Field: 12 dismissals.

5. Matt McKee (c) (Coutts) - Bat: 358 runs at 119.33, HS 131*.

6. Ryan Cotten (Westlawn) - Bat: 180 runs at 25.71, HS 68. Bowl: 12 wkts at 12.50, ER 3.57, BB 7/38.

7. Craig Paul (Easts Poplar Sheds) - Bat: 109 runs at 21.80, HS 40*. Bowl: 11 wkts at 10.27, ER 3.29, BB 4/26.

• KFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK #3: Craig Paul match-winner

8. Casey Wear-Preston (Souths) - Bat: 103 runs at 14.71, HS 47. Bowl: 10 wkts at 9.80, ER 2.97, BB 5/15.

9. Andrew McLachlan (Coutts) - Bat: 91 runs at 15.17, HS 48. Bowl: 16 wkts at 10.88, ER 3.55, BB 3/17.

10. Hayden Woods (Coutts) - Bowl: 18 wkts at 7.78, ER 3.02, BB 4/10.

11.  Angus McFadyen (Easts Poplar Sheds) - Bowl: 18 wkts at 11.94, ER 3.94, BB 6/24.

12th Lachlan Wilcox (Coutts) - Bowl: 7 wkts at 13.86, ER 3.99, BB 3/19.

3rd GRADE BEST XI

1. Shaun Simpson (c) (Westlawn) - Bat: 231 runs at N/A, HS 69*.

2. Finn Lucas (Brothers) - Bat: 144 runs at 36.00, HS 53*.

3. Daniel Moar (vc) (Brothers) - Bat: 219 runs at 73.00, HS 40*. Bowl: 7 wkts at 14.00, ER 5.44, BB 4/8.

4. Scott Chard (Coutts) - Bat:142 runs at 71.00, HS 35*. Bowl: 7 wkts at 13.67, ER 4.43, BB 2/10.

5. Jason O'Hara (Tucabia) - Bat: 147 runs at 36.75, HS 41*.

6. Lance Chevalley (Coutts) - Bat: 130 runs at 130.00, HS 43*. Bowl: 9 wkts at 12.56, ER 4.08, BB 2/5.

7. Eli Jones (Westlawn) - Bat: 119 runs at 23.80, HS 35*.

8. Ricky Johnson (Brothers) - Bat: 107 runs at 21.40, HS 53. Bowl: 6 wkts at 13.83, ER 4.15, BB 2/25.

9. Richie Williamson (wk) (Coutts) - Bat: 67 runs at 22.33, HS 35*. WK: 2 catches, 5 stumpings, 

10. Jason Harrison (Easts) - Bat: 69 runs at 17.25, HS 69. Bowl: 7 wkts at 12.00, ER 4.20, BB 3/12

11. Caitlin Chevalley (Coutts) - Bowl: 11 wkts at 13.18, ER 6.04, BB 3/12.

12th Ramie Simpson (Westlawn) - Bat: 78 runs at 15.60, HS 26. Bowl: 7 wkts at 13.00, ER 4.55, BB 4/7. 

KFC TEAM/PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Each week we have compiled the KFC Team of the Week from the best performances across all grades, with those players going into a poll to be featured as the KFC Player of the Week.

So far eight different players - five from Premier League, two in 2nd Grade and one 3rd grader - have taken the honours in the first eight weeks.

Meanwhile Nathan Blanch, Billy Blanch, Chris Cleaver, Ryan Cotten, Jordan Gallagher, Matt McKee, Andtew McLachlan and Daniel Moar have all been named in the Team of the Week on three occasions. At the end of the seasons a CRCA Team of 2020/21 and CRCA Player of 2020/21 will be announced by The Daily Examiner purely off these selections and the Player of the Week polling.

SO FAR THIS SEASON...

• KFC Team of the Week - CRCA #1

• KFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK #1: Jake Kroehnert 105

• KFC Team of the Week - CRCA #2

• KFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK #2: Beau Sevil 105*

• KFC Team of the Week - CRCA #3

• KFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK #3: Craig Paul match-winner

• KFC Team of the Week - CRCA #4

• KFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK #4: Billy Blanch leads the way

• KFC Team of the Week - CRCA #5

• KFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK #5: Andrew Ellis 120

• KFC Team of the Week - CRCA #6

• KFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK #6: Nathan Blanch 4/30 (22)

• KFC Team of the Week - CRCA #7

• KFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK #7: Tim Bultitude earns call up

• KFC Team of the Week - CRCA #8

• KFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK #8: Simpson sets the standard