Footscray keeps faith in strong squad

Footscray's Jordan Buckingham. (Luke Hemer) 203639_02

Tara Murray

After a long drawn out off season, Footscray is ready for the return of matches in Victorian Premier Cricket.

Like cricketers across Melbourne, the Bulldogs have been left off the field, with COVID-19 restrictions delaying pre-season training and matches.

Bulldogs coach Allan Wise said everyone had been keen to return to training and get things under way.

“It has been a long drawn out off season for everyone, not just in a cricket sense,” he said.

“Everyone is excited to have normality after an abrupt end to last season.

“We’ve started training and working towards a start date.”

Wise said there hadn’t been much player turnover across all four grades, which has proved beneficial with such a short pre-season and limited time to get to know people.

The Bulldogs though have one big recruit, in Melbourne Stars bowler Jackson Coleman.

Wise said with the competition now only one-day matches due to COVID-19, Coleman was set for an even bigger role.

“We had some pressure with injuries last season, especially losing our recruit Jake Reed to an ACL injury.

“Someone like Jackson is a mature bowler who has been around for a number of years and has played state one-day cricket and T20 cricket.

“He is an experienced recruit which is heightened with only one-day cricket, which is somewhat a speciality for him.”

Coleman is likely to play the opening games before heading off for his BBL commitments. He will return to the Bulldogs later in the season.

Wise said that period was a good chance for other players to have an opportunity.

He said they would take a healthy list into the season, with several youngsters set to take the next step.

“Dylan Brasher and Jordan Buckingham are in the Cricket Victoria Emerging Squad and that is an endorsement of their improvement and continuing to give them the best opportunities.

“We’ve got a couple of young players coming through the grades. It’s a good catchment area and we have a good strong list.”

The Bulldogs finished last season in second spot, but lost in the opening week of the finals to Melbourne.

They were due to play St Kilda in the semi-finals, which were cancelled due to COVID-19.

After its win in the first week of finals, Melbourne was the highest ranked team and was awarded the premiership.

Wise said they were hoping to have another strong season.

“Last year our one-day form was a little bit patchy,” he said.

“That format is about match winners and we think that we have them.

“We improved last year in the one-day format, but our two-day form was better,”

The Bulldogs start their season on November 28 against Greenvale.