A season of ‘what ifs’

Aamir Raza (Jacob Pattison)386773_05

Harper Sercombe

Taylors Lakes’ ‘what if’ Victorian Sub District Cricket Association north-west season has come to an end, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

After finishing bottom of the ladder last season, Aamir Raza was named as coach in September and he immediately identified finals as the goal for 2023-24.

This didn’t eventuate for the first XI, finishing three games out of the top six with a handful of games that could have gone either way has Raza wondering what could have been.

“We didn’t want it to be a what if season… it is a what if season in the ones,” he said.

“When you look back at the Werribee game when we lost by one run, when you look at the Brunswick game where we should’ve won going into the last hour of the game, the Kew game where we were ahead of the game the whole day a part from the last hour and we lost.

“If we won those games it’s a different league.

“It is a season of ‘what ifs’. It’s not all doom and gloom, I think there have been a lot of positives. From a season last year where we won two games to winning seven this season it is an improvement. Obviously, certain things haven’t gone our way this year.

“We set out to make finals and we haven’t.”

The Lions also managed to take some big scalps along the way including beating minor premiers St Bernard’s by 66 runs in round eight.

Another positive to come out of the Lions’ season is the success in the other grades at the club, with the second, third and fourth XI all making finals.

“There’s a lot of talent coming through the club,” Raza said.

“It shows there is depth at the club, I just think when we get to the higher standard we need to step up our game a little bit.”

To maintain the club’s gradual progression up the ladder and potentially crack into the top six next season, Raza said the club must first look to internal growth and improvement.

During the last off season the club recruited a host of players including English fast bowler Adam Sylvester, who only played up to round eight of the season, but had 20 wickets to his name.

This season’s two leading run scorers for the Lions Nilan Fernando (547 runs at 42.08) and Steffan Roberts (490 runs at 35) were also recruits. Fernando also kept all season taking 18 catches and making seven stumpings. Leg spinner Melisha Deshapriya also joined the club and took 18 wickets for the season.

“We have to look within ourselves,” Raza said.

“We have to nurture our own Australian talent because that is the future, there’s only a limit of bringing players in.

“Bringing players in is just covering cracks… one or two new players would be brilliant but it’s just minor changes and slight improvements.

“If you look at the clubs at the top of the ladder like St Bernard’s and Werribee, they’re all nurturing their own club players and the quality of the cricket with those players is very good.

“There is talent there, it’s just about how we nurture the talent and prepare them for the step up for first team cricket.”